The week after Easter, I was able to attend an Iftar at the Afton Islamic Center. During Ramadan, Twin Cities Islamic communities invite the public to join them for Iftar as a way of educating and allowing people to get an inside view of their community.
Iftar is a fast ending meal at sunset for each day in Ramadan. I was surprised at the number of people that took advantage of their invitation. We were welcomed and given a name tag and invited into the community area. Each table had table hosts from their community to welcome and provide conversation. At my table there were two gentlemen, both research scientists one from Honeywell and the other retired from HB Fuller. Both were also from India, which as we found out during the Koran presentation at St Pascal's is the third largest Muslim country, and had settled in the Twin Cities 30 years ago. They shared how hard it had been to practice Ramadan and their Muslim faith when they arrived in Minnesota due to the lack of Islamic communities.
After some table conversation, a presentation on Islam was given by their energetic high school members. It was a nice and basic introduction with an opening prayer. After the presentation there was an open question and answer session. The questions were answered by two community leaders, a man and a woman. The questions were what one would expect and the answers were honest and heartfelt. I think it might be good to see if the woman who was answering questions might come to St Pascal's sometime in the future to talk about Islam from a women's perspective.
At 8:03, sunset, the community members had a call to prayer to end Ramadan. We were able to watch and they had the words of the prayer in english for us to follow along. The women of their community did go to a separate room for the prayer.
After prayer ended, about 10 minutes, we were treated to an amazing meal and continued our conversations. There was more focus on Islam and Koran questions during this second time of table conversation.
It was a very nice night and great opportunity to see the Afton Islamic community and all the things and outreach they do. Much of which is in cooperation with other faith communities. I would encourage you to try and attend an Iftar next year. We are encouraged by Vatican II to reach out and be in conversation with other people of faith, especially our fellow children of Abraham.
The week after that, St Pascal's adult formation committee sponsored a talk by John Bellaimey about the Koran and Islam. I was excited that we were able to offer this presentation after a 2 year COVID delay. It was a outstanding talk and I learned quite a bit. If you could not attend the presentation it is on our YouTube channel.
I would encourage you to take some time and watch it. There were many take-aways for me and there are two that stand out. Reading the Koran requires a knowledge of the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures as the Koran only adds clarification to the stories from these scriptures. The other is Islam's understanding of sin. It is not based on the concept of original sin, something that has been used to make people feel bad about themselves but more on that later. They see it as we have lost our way of what we were originally.
We are called be ecumenical and learn about other faiths. Not that we will become Muslim and quite frankly the more I learn about God's revelation in other faith traditions only enhances and deepens my Christian faith.
Peace, Love, and Blessings