This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Iftar.

Last night we attended an iftar dinner at the home of a Muslim family. We know these folks through Susan's church, which has been developing a relationship with a group of mostly Turkish Muslims in our area. One family invited us to their home for the dinner that ends the daily Ramadan fast.

During the month of Ramadan, in commemoration of the days during which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad, Muslims fast from food and water during daylight hours of the day. Each evening they break the fast with a family meal to which it is customary to invite friends and other guests.

So we drove into New Brunswick to the home of a young family where we sat down to a delightful, informal meal. There were our host and hostess and their adorable baby daughter, two international students at Rutgers, my son Daniel, my wife Susan, and me.

We learned a lot about Islamic practices and holidays. This led to interested questions about Christian holidays. Our friends apparently didn't know much about Easter, which they asked us to explain. Susan gave an excellent summary of Jesus' life, why he was killed, his resurrection, and the foundation of the church at Pentecost. (I provided the color commentary.) I should know better in this post-Christendom, global age, but it still surprises me when I come across people who have never heard this before.

We also talked about Muslim holidays, which appear to be few. The emphasis is on the 5 daily prayers and the "5 pillars:" the confession of faith in One God and the Prophet, the daily prayers, giving alms, the fast, and the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca). The meal at the last evening of the Ramadan fast seems to be the most important holiday for Muslims.

Our conversation ranged across a lot of other topics. But the main things we experienced were a gracious hospitality, a gentleness and simplicity, and an inquisitiveness, along with a deep and comfortably held faith.

We are looking forward to returning the hospitality and inviting this family to our home.

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