CAIRO - In a spirit of unity, Christian Nigerian youths gathered at the prestigious Sultan Bello Mosque in north-central state of Kaduna to share Muslims their Ramadan Iftar, sending a new message of peace and tolerance from the city.
With the Muslims calling the Christians to breakfast together in this historic mosque is something very significant, Diji Obadiah Haruna, president of the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told The Leadership newspaper on Sunday, July 22.
The iftar, held on Saturday which marked the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, was attended by over 100 Christian youths with their leaders.
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Serving food in bowls, Muslim and Christian youths gathered at one table to share the Ramadan iftar.
The occasion was organized by the Christian-Muslim Youth Peace Initiative of Nigeria under the co-chairmanship of Dr Suleiman Shuabu Shinkafi, the chairman of the Muslim youth division and Haruna, youth CAN president.
For attendants, the essence of the breaking of fast together with their Christian counterparts was to further promote peaceful coexistence among the diverse groups and religious divides in Nigeria.
It was also seen as a good chance to promote understanding and religious tolerance.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in Nigeria on Friday.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.
The iftar was also meant to break barriers inside Nigerian society.
The youths are the worst hit in times of crisis, Dr Shinkafi, the chairman of the Muslim youth division in the Christian-Muslim Youth Peace Initiative of Nigeria, said.
We want to create the needed awareness of tolerating each other and stop the youths from being used for violence.
Dr Shinkafi called on the government to engage the youths meaningfully, so that all forms of social vices perpetrated by young Nigerians would be reduced to the barest minimal.
Haruna, youth CAN president, agrees.
I pray that it will not just stop at eating together alone, but that we will further join forces to say no to violence and collectively build a better society, our religious differences notwithstanding, he said.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net