Abuja: “Iftar” dinner is the platform where interaction can be increased within the society and Muslims and Christians can become closer to each other through this platform.
These views were shared by the Deputy Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Muhammadu Kabir Adam, located in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
The Deputy Chief Imam highlighted the importance of Iftar, a meal taken by the Muslims for breaking their fasts during the holy month of Ramadan after sunset. He said that the sacred meal in Islam can serve to the purpose of “social interaction” and Muslims can invite the Christians to Iftar dinner.
He said, “In Islam, we are allowed to live together with Christians.” He welcomed the warm gestures by the Muslims during the last Islamic month, Ramadan, as they increasingly invited their Christian acquaintances to the Iftar feast and the trend gained popularity.
Muhammadu Kabir termed this practice as a healer between the decades-old strained relations between the Muslims and the Christians in Nigeria.
He stated, “Islam recognizes Muslims and non-Muslims. It recognizes the presence of Christians and Jews. The name of Chapter 18 of the Quran is the ‘Chapter of Mary’... And we all know that Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ. If the Quran can state the circumstance that led to the birth of Jesus Christ that means Islam recognizes the presence of Jesus Christ. In Islam, we recognise Jesus Christ as a prophet of God. In fact, belief is not total, if a person does not accept Jesus Christ as a prophet of God.”
He highlighted the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the light of Holy Quran saying, “Islam also allows Muslims to eat what their Christian or Jewish counterparts cook. So, it is not surprising to see Muslims inviting Christians to join them in breaking the fast, or a Christian inviting a Muslim to do likewise. This is something that has to do with social interaction. In Islam, we are allowed to live together with Christians. During the life of Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him), in Medina, the prophetic city, there were Christians, there were Jews, and they lived together in harmony and understanding. That is why it is not surprising if a Christian is invited for Iftar.”
Muhammadu Kabir clarified, “There is no problem between the two faiths. It wasn’t quite long we held a meeting with Christian clerics, led by Archbishop Onaiyekan in this mosque. I also attended a meeting at the National Christian Centre some time ago. So, there is no dispute between the two faiths. Dispute comes from the people, and that is not a religious matter. It is a societal problem, politically and economically induced. Go to Palestine, the late Yasser Arafat was leader. He was a Muslim but his wife was a Christian. Mubarak of Egypt was a Muslim but his wife was a Christian. Among the Palestinians who are struggling for independence from Israel, there is Hanan Ashrawi who is a Christian but a Palestinian.“And we all know that Boutros Ghali of Egypt represented Egypt in the United Nations and rose to UN Secretary General, notwithstanding fact that majority of Egyptians are Muslims. So, there is no problem between the two. The problems are either political or economic etc.,” he concluded.