American Muslims Host Religious and Political Leaders for ‘National Healing through Prayer’ Inter-Faith Iftar
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Holds First Ever National Virtual Interfaith Iftar during Ramadan
A year into the COVID pandemic, the oldest Muslim community in the U.S. held its inaurgural national virtual interfaith Iftar entitled ‘National Healing through Prayer.’ Leaders from diverse religious backgrounds and U.S. lawmakers attended the virtual Iftar focusing on the importance of healing through prayer, service, and justice.
Iftar is the breaking of fast observed by Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan. During this month, Muslims come together to pray and reflect on ways to help alleviate human suffering. Attendees of the event included Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Congressman Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Honorable Keith Ellison, who spoke on promoting cooperation across faiths by partnering in building peaceful and inclusive communities. They advocated the need for collaboration across all communities to resolve the economic and humanitarian crisis in America.
The pandemic, racial injustice, and hate crimes have marred our communities in recent years. Commenting on the pandemic, Amjad Mahmood Khan, National Spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, said, “Words cannot quite capture the emotions we feel in the wake of such incalculable human loss. As American Muslims, we share in grieving over the departed souls who are part of the American family.”
Rev. Johnnie Moore, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, spoke about his experiences attending the annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and extolled the importance of inter-faith dialogue and harmony. Rabbi Noam Marans, Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations at the American Jewish Committee, spoke on advancing human rights and values through unity and harmony. “It is incredible what can be done when Jews and Muslims come together,” he said as he mentioned the achievements of American Jews and Muslims, including Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018. He acknowledged the similarities in two religions in the teachings of unity and prayers: “We can take comfort in the words of Psalms that weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning, or as the Qur’an says, after hardship, comes relief.”
U.S. Congresswoman Torres (CA-35) pointed out that our nation faces economic and humanitarian crises in these times. She presented her vision of bringing Americans together by connecting communities of faith around their shared values of unity and love. She appreciated the contributions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA in these words, “From food drives to promoting cooperation across faith, you have been an amazing resource and partner in helping to build a safer, more peaceful, and more inclusive community.” Attorney General Keith Ellison discussed the importance of achieving racial justice in America and commended the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA for their social service work in America.
Imam Azhar Haneef, the Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, explained that prayer is pivotal in Islamic teachings and the power to heal humanity. He explained that from the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), we learn that he prayed with utmost humility for those who suffered. In his closing remarks, Imam Haneef reiterated that Ramadan is a time for self-sacrifice and self-improvement. Muslims not only avoid food and water during the day, but they also abstain from even the slightest moral ills and try to live a life of purity. Prophet Muhammad’s compassion and charity peaked in Ramadan, and his charity took the form of prayer that extended to all regardless of their background.