Interfaith Community Iftar brings different traditions together

  • Batavia Islamic Center's Mazher Ahmed with Paige Wolfanger, pastor of Congregational Church of Batavia, at the 2022 Interfaith Community Iftar. This year's community dinner will be Saturday, April 1.

    Batavia Islamic Center's Mazher Ahmed with Paige Wolfanger, pastor of Congregational Church of Batavia, at the 2022 Interfaith Community Iftar. This year's community dinner will be Saturday, April 1. Courtesy of Congregational Church of Batavia

 
 
Updated 3/15/2023 2:02 PM

For the fifth year, the Congregational Church of Batavia will host an Interfaith Community Iftar on Saturday, April 1.

What is Iftar? Iftar is the meal at which Muslims break their daily fast in the holy month of Ramadan.

 

One might ask why the Congregational Church, which is part of the United Church of Christ, is hosting a Muslim event?

It began with a panel discussion at the Batavia Public Library in 2017, with Mazher Ahmed of the Batavia Islamic Center and David Foxgrover, the pastor of the Congregational Church at that time, as presenters.

The discussion resulted in an interest in establishing an Interfaith experience. The church's outreach ministry, contacted Mazher and it was decided to hold a community interfaith Iftar at the church. During that time there was a lot of hate being directed to Muslims.

The intent for joining together was simple, to quote a church member, "For the most part it's easier to hate someone you don't know than someone you do know. We want people to know that at heart we are all created the same. We share the same concerns, Christian, Muslim or whatever, for our children, for our safety, for our future, for our well-being, and more."

The evening begins with prayers, both the Muslim evening prayers after sunset, as well as Christian prayers.

After the prayers, dates and water are provided for the traditional breaking of the fast. The Muslims have not eaten or drank since sunrise.

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This is followed by a wonderful home-cooked meal provided by Mazher, her husband Hamed, and the Batavia Islamic Center. Mazher, and Hamed are active in the community and attract a diverse crowd of Christians, Jews, Sikhs, and perhaps some nonbelievers.

Other churches in Batavia are invited. Local government officials often attend, including Mayor Jeff Shielke, and the police and fire chiefs. Volunteers from the Congregational Church of Batavia provide the clean up after dinner, while the Muslims have one more call for prayer that day.

As it states on the invitation to the event "We all from different traditions pursue the same goals that of cultivating human goodness and bringing comprehensive understanding, respect for other traditions and happiness to all humans."

If interested in attending this year's event, please RSVP to the Congregational Church office, (630) 879-1999 by Wednesday, March 29.

It will begin at 7 p.m. at the church, 21 S. Batavia Ave. (Route 31).

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