Sunday 18th of August 2019

Denver Iftar Promotes Interfaith Unity


--American Muslims in Denver are opening their doors for people of all faiths and races to join interfaith iftars during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a bid to promote unity and understanding among their bigger community.


"Ramadan is a time of sharing," Ismail Akbulut, a volunteer at the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation in Aurora City, told the Denver Post on Monday, September 7.


"We try to get all kinds of people together to rebuild trust."


The foundation, mainly run by American Muslims of Turkish origins in their 20s to 40s, organizes iftar banquets during Ramadan to community members and followers of others faiths.


This allows 40 to 50 Muslim families to share their culture, cuisine and Ramadan with diverse guests.


They organized last week an iftar to a number of state legislators, local Christian congregations’ members and non-Muslim neighbors.


"What I like about this group is that it is so welcoming to people of all faiths, without judging the other faiths," said Sigrid Higdon, a non-Muslim who attended the iftar.


Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, started on Saturday, August 22, in the United States, home to more than seven million Muslims.


In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.


Most dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through self-restraint, good deeds and prayer.


In addition to iftar banquets, the foundation organizes a number of interfaith activities all over the year.


"It's hard to explain why we do all this," said Andrea Mikulin Topuz, another volunteer.


"We want to create community and be part of something bigger than our individual selves."


The nonprofit Muslim foundation, launched in 2003, now has centers in most states.


Its inspiration is Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish intellectual and scholar who leads a movement with the stated aims of peace and tolerance.


Over the year, the foundation hosted a series of speakers from different faiths and disciplines.


"We also believe we need to get everyone in interfaith dialogue," said Topuz, the mother of a 4-year-old son.


"To contribute positively to the image of Islam is critical. We try to be that moderate voice."


And each year, around the Islamic lunar month of Muharram, volunteers prepare and distribute to various places of worship hundreds of servings of Noah's pudding, a dessert of grain, nuts and fruits symbolic of Noah's first treat after the waters of the great flood receded.


Topuz says that since the Noah story is common to all three Abrahamic faiths, this symbolizes the unity of humans to each other and to their Creator.

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