08/31/10: Iftar used to push interfaith efforts

Iftar used to push interfaith efforts

By Jessica Barrow- Arab American News

Tuesday, 08.31.2010, 02:17am

DEARBORN — The Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights hosted an interfaith iftar on Friday, August 20 at 8:30 p.m. with the theme of uniting against the hate speech and Islamophobia seen in America in recent weeks due in large part to the proposed mosque and community center near "Ground Zero" in New York City.

    "It is hurting not only Islam and Muslims, it is hurting America, it is hurting Christianity, it is hurting all the religions of Allah. It is hurting the integrity of this country," said Imam Elahi about the recent wave of anti-Islam sentiments. Elahi asked for help from those in the interfaith group in refuting stereotypes.

Reverend David Bullock of the Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park, Father Jeffrey Day of St. Sebastian's Parish in Dearborn Heights, Imam Dawud Walid, director of CAIR Michigan and Father Lawrence Ventline of Sacred Heart Church in Roseville were in attendance.

Father Day spoke to those present, reassuring them that they were working to bring peace.

"One of the tenets of Christianity is to bring peace to everyone. This is the message I try to give to parishes, priests and pastors," he said. "There is fear that  comes up when people see people who wear different clothing or speaking a language that is different, but we have to remember…we are all children of God.  This is a message I am trying to promote in the Christian Catholic Community."

Father Day, who is also the ecumenical and interfaith advisor for the Archdiocese of Detroit, is looking to put some of Imam Elahi's words about working together in action, as teachings in the Second Vatican Council specifically mention Islam, requiring Catholics to respect it.

"There is a part that talks about Islam and how we have to have respect for Islam because it is a religion that says there is one God and we must submit to him,"  said Father Day.

Imam Elahi  also spoke to the audience in regards to the month of Ramadan and how its message applies to all.

"It's a message of community, respect and working together with sincerity and honesty; of helping one another to help this country." He highlighted that fasting is not only a Muslim practice, but is practiced in Judaism and Christianity, thus Ramadan is an interfaith month.

"When we get together in the mosque during the month of Ramadan, we recite the stories of  Moses, and Jesus and Abraham, " said Imam Elahi. "In that sense it is the atmosphere of interfaith."

"The concept as fasting to preserve and protect really struck a chord with me," said Reverend Bullock.  "I was wondering how to add that to the Christian liturgical calendar. I believe we really need to integrate some symbols and traditions from the 'religions of Allah.'"

PHOTO: Reverend David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park,  Imam Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, and Father Lawrence Ventline of Sacred Heart Church in Roseville listen intently to a speech.             PHOTO: Jessica Barrow/TAAN