JOHANNESBURG – Sharing the festivities of the holy month with the wider community, the Union of Arab Communities of South Africa has organization an interfaith iftar which gathered several religious groups to celebrate special Ramadan night in Johannesburg.
"We organized the interfaith ifar to create unity between Muslims and other faith groups in the area," Union Chairman Abdeslam Habiballah Ahmed told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, July 1.
Organized in Johannesburg's predominantly-Muslim suburb of Mayfair, the event was attended by more than 200 people of different faiths such as Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
It was cosponsored by Union of Arab Communities of South Africa in partnership with the Pan-African Business Forum.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, falls this year between Sunday, June 29, and July 28.
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.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor.
For Muslim groups, Ramadan is an occasion to educate the wider public about the religious observance and the Islamic faith in general.
Finishing their iftar, a Muslim representative, Mohamed Zaaki, made a public prayer in which he called for unity, love and cooperation in the community.
Reverend Francine Mpume and Mama Mukwazi, both from Christian faith groups, also said a public prayer.
The idea of an interfaith iftar has been praised by attendants who asked for similar events in the future.
"I am happy that we can interact freely, eat and pray together, irrespective of our different faiths," Nomatando Pricilla told AA at the event.
Another Muslim speaker greeted the audience with the Islamic greeting "Assalamu Aleikum", "Peace be upon you", to which the mostly non-Muslim audience enthusiastically replied, "Waliekumu salaam."
Another resident, who only gave his first name, Malume, said he was looking forward to seeing more local interfaith events.
"It would be nice to see more of these uniting events," he told AA.
At the event, organizers voiced support for a candidate affiliated with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who is contesting by-elections for a ward councillorship in the area.
"It's part of the moral obligation of the union of Arab communities to support the ANC because it [the party] stands for Arab issues, especially the Palestinian cause," said Ahmed.
"South African people and the ANC are friends of Muslims and the Arab people," Ahmed said.
Muslims make up some 1.5 percent of South Africa’s 49 million-strong population, according to the CIA fact book.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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