Thank you Maryam for this wonderful and evocative post – and for the challenge!
Who’s up for a bit of peace-building over a delicious meal? Full details below.
Almost a year ago today I had the pleasure of attending Shabbat dinner at Rabbi Wittenberg’s house, a lovely soul that touches the hearts of everyone he meets.
It was also Ramadan on the night Rabbi welcomed 30 interfaith activists and myself into his home. The entry of Shabbat coincided quite nicely with the end of the fasting day.
We prayed the evening prayer in the garden after breaking our fast. As we prostrated on the cool grass we could hear the blessing for the challah bread (a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays) drifting through the kitchen window. That evening we broke our fast with fruit and challah bread.
It was perhaps one of the most special evenings of my life and one of the most unique Ramadan dinners ever! Sharing in such an intimate moment as Shabbat with a Jewish family was simply beautiful!
Food plays an important role in many faith traditions. Whether it is Langar, free food offered to all people regardless of race or religion, in Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples), or Shabbat dinner, to mark the day of rest on a Friday night, or Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast in Ramadan. Food has the potential to bring people together, to create as well as rebuild broken bonds, and it has the power to create a hearty atmosphere for dialogue.
I know what Iftar is like at my house. It is loud, it is solemn, it is full of laughter, it is prayerful, and it is warm. Dine @ Mine is all about sharing the Ramadan experience with neighbours, colleagues; sharing food and making new friends. The idea is that Muslim families ‘apply’ to host non-Muslim families. And families from other backgrounds ‘apply’ to attend an Iftar. Once we receive an application from families in the same area we put them in touch.
With over 20 Muslim families signed up and Dine@Mine events in London, Manchester and even as far as New Delhi and South Africa, it has grown beyond my expectations. Why? Because people are desperate to connect! They are desperate to break down those barriers and get to know their neighbours.
With the rise in Islamophobia many people are eager to understand the Muslim community and Islam. We hope this initiative will help to break down stereotypes and create a sense of community and lasting friendships.
If you would like to be paired with a family in your area during the Dine@Mine week in Ramadan please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.