More than 70 people of all faiths gathered Wednesday night at the Frederick home of Imam Yahya Hendi for a traditional breaking of the fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The reception, known as an iftar, included beef kabobs, curried chicken, shrimp, rice and vegetables, as well as dates, which Muslims typically offer during Ramadan.
Ramadan began this year on Sept. 12 and ends today. It commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims fast each day of the month.
"The idea (tonight) is having people from different backgrounds, from different faiths, from different jobs and for them to experience a loving God, a God of mercy, who wants us all to be united," said Hendi, imam for the Islamic Society of Frederick. "There are lawyers here, clergy, taxi cab drivers, engineers, law enforcement people and imams."
Guests included friends from Hood College, Fort Detrick and Frederick Memorial Hospital, as well as Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.
Literally meaning "breaking the fast," iftar is not considered a time for solemn worship, though there are moments for prayer. It's more of a social occasion with spiritual themes.
"The Ramadan fasting starts before sunrise and ends every day at sunset and part of the religious aspect is that we try not to break our fast alone," said Irma Hafeez, president of the Montgomery County Muslim Council. "It's a time to be with friends, relatives and neighbors."
Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said iftar is traditionally an opportunity for Muslims to invite non-Muslims friends, neighbors and co-workers to their homes to take part in a celebratory evening dinner. . .
Last weekend, the Montgomery County Muslim Council helped the City of Baltimore Muslim Council with its inaugural Feed the People campaign. More than 1,400 meals were served during the event.
"During Ramadan, it's recommended that you always include someone who is less fortunate than you and you'd rather feed them first before you get something to eat yourself," Hafeez said. (MORE)