KARACHI: A beautiful example to interfaith harmony was witnessed at St Jude’s Church in Hussain D’Silva Town where a joint Iftar for both Muslims and Christians was held on Saturday.
The scrumptious Iftar followed by a delicious dinner was attended and enjoyed by members of the Christian community as well as Muslims along with clergy from neighbourhood mosques. Archbishop Benny Travas, the Bishop of Karachi, was the guest of honour on the occasion.
The joint Iftar was the idea of the parish priest of St Jude’s parish Father Mario Rodrigues. He had been planning it for some time now, but the Covid-19 lockdowns and consequent standard operating procedures were constantly coming in the way of his plans. This year, though, he was happy to see it happen finally. “It is the seventh Muslim fast and the 34th Lent fast for us. And we will both break our fasts together at sunset or Maghrib,” Father Mario told Dawn.
The popular Iftar delicacies like pakoras, samosas, spring rolls, fruit chaat, milk sherbet, etc., were all homemade as was the dinner. Father Mario could be seen running around between kitchen and the big U-shaped dining table as he was supervising so many things while also welcoming his guests with amazing grace and energy.
In a rare show of interfaith harmony, St Jude’s Church allows Muslim guests to offer prayers on church grounds
A popular community figure, the little children didn’t take long to find their way to his lap the moment he sat down from a breather and to break his fast.
Both Muslims and Christians then broke their fast on the call to Maghrib prayer with dates and milk sherbet. It was a rare sight to then see the Muslim guests say their prayers on the church grounds where special arrangements had been made for the purpose.
Qari Bakhtullah, the imam from a neighbourhood mosque, the Jamia Masjid Al Sattar, led the prayers.
Later, he told Dawn that he was glad to have accepted the church’s invitation.
“My Christian brothers respect our religious obligations as we do theirs. Their prophet Jesus Christ is also our Hazrat Isa Alay-hi Salam. Caring for one’s neighbours and respecting their beliefs is also part of good religious practice followed in both our faiths,” he said.
Father Asher Liaqat of St Jude’s pointed out that their church was located in the Hussain D’Silva Town, home for both Muslims and Christians. “It was due to the strong friendly bonds between Muslims and Christians that this town came about. We hope that this friendship becomes even stronger as more peace spreads in this place in the future,” he said.
Archbishop Benny Travas, the Bishop of Karachi, said that as they broke their fasts together and broke bread together on the same dining table, it felt like they were all a part of one family.
“We fast for 40 days during the Lent season, a time that we also spend looking to strengthen our relationship with God Almighty. We pray to Him and we give charity to the poor. You also spend Ramazan Kareem in fasting, praying and distributing zakat. We are so similar in our religious beliefs and obligations,” he pointed out.
Dr Syed Khurram Mehdi, convener of the South Asia Research Institute for Minorities, and Advocate Nasir Ahmed also spoke on the occasion.
Later, the church also distributed ration bags among the neighbourhood poor, including both Muslims and Christians.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2022