Ramadan is not only a month for spiritual awakening that sees Muslims reaffirming and expressing their love for God through fasting, but also a month where people with different faiths, opinions, languages and ethnicities come together and bond in an exemplary show of solidarity and peace. For this reason, it is important that during Ramadan, past resentments are forgotten, people with different views embrace each other, and representatives of different faiths stand together in solidarity. Ramadan is the month of peace and it should be a time when hostilities cease and nations that harbor grudges against one another set aside their resentments and make steps toward conciliation.
Sadly, some Muslims seem to have forgotten this important and beautiful aspect of Ramadan. They don’t seem to understand that just like fasting, reinforcing brotherhood and making peace are religious duties as well. They pay too much heed to the noise of warmongers and can’t see that what God really wants is peace and that Ramadan is intended to be a means to that.
In order to help build this perspective and to show the true meaning of Ramadan, A9 TV’s annual iftar meal took place on May 24, 2018 at Çırağan Palace in Istanbul. Nearly 1,000 Turkish and international guests, all respectable members of their circles, including Jewish rabbis and Christian priests, the esteemed members of the Turkish Christian and Jewish communities as well as representatives of various Muslim religious orders attended the iftar.
Among the guests of the A9 TV iftar dinner there were also esteemed names from a wide variety of political parties, high-ranking bureaucrats, as well as intellectuals of differing opinions who would generally abstain from meeting with each other because of their opposing views. A prayer was recited in both Arabic and Turkish during the iftar, expressing our desire for peace and deep love among people. This was also noteworthy – and unprecedented – due to its being a Muslim supplication to God for good wishes and blessings for both Jews and Christians.
Our guests from Israel, rabbis and politicians, had appeared on A9 TV’s live night program the day before the iftar and made very important and meaningful statements. Rabbi Abraham Sherman, who served in the Israel Supreme Rabbinical Court for 32 years, made a very inspiring speech, concluding with a wish “to build a new world without fights, without bloodshed, without murder.” Rabbi Ben Abrahamson, historian and consultant to the Jerusalem Rabbinical Courts on matters concerning Islam, pointed to the commonalities between our faiths and said, “The word ‘maamin’ doesn’t just mean somebody who believes in God but also somebody who is reliable, who is trustworthy and credible. … We are looking now to join together with trustworthy people so we can help to build a solution for what we are now facing.”
In her speech, Rebecca Abrahamson, co-director of Al-Sadiqin Institute, emphasized the harmony in which Jews and Muslims are supposed to live and gave some examples from Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount, and from Jewish and Islamic history, saying, “In Jewish sources that include non-Jews on the Temple Mount, in Psalm 135, we have the three circles of believers who would circumambulate around the holy of holies – the priests, the Israelites, and non-Jewish God-fearers. Non-Jews were included in the Temple Mount in ancient history. … Later, Islam also included non-Muslim believers. In fact, in the seventh century, Caliph Omar restored the Temple Mount to Jewish and Christian use and in the eight century, Caliph Abd al-Malik constructed the Dome of the Rock based on Ezekiel’s prophecy. And the Arabic writings inside the Dome of the Rock are actually directed at worshippers from a Christian background.”
Respected Palestinian and Jordanian sheikhs and imams, and Israeli rabbis and politicians who make sincere efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace also came to Turkey as our guests. To further solidify this effort, during the iftar, members of the three Abrahamic religions shared the same table and painted a true and exemplary portrait of friendship.
Our Palestinian and Jordanian guests emphasized that it was crucial to educate those who terrorize others in the name of Islam with the Quran, as opposed to superstitious and mistaken interpretations. All our guests reiterated that it was important to stay the course of peace and reconciliation. They kindly asked us to continue to be the pioneers in explaining the Quran’s spirit of peace and finding a common denominator between Muslims, Christians and Jews.
The best response to those who seek to turn this holy month into a time of bloodshed would be to put forth the alliance of the good at every opportunity. For years, our iftar dinners have been boldly leading this alliance, showing the spirit of solidarity. These gatherings helped further conciliation between hostile communities, showing that the union of people of goodwill always wins and is entirely possible.