Serving up goodwill

Mohamed Mohideen, Shenouda Boutros, Alaa El Zokm, Ian Smith and others shared faith, fellowship and food.

Peace, love and unity were on the menu at an Iftar dinner held at Ivanhoe Uniting Church on 18 May.

The event, which was jointly staged by the Victorian Council of Churches and Islamic Council of Victoria, invited Christians and Muslims to share more than just a meal.

Barriers were broken and friendships were forged, with conversation and understanding flowing between the two faith communities.

Islamic Council of Victoria President Mohamed Mohideen said the gathering emphasised what people of faith had in common.

“We all pray to one God, we might find different pathways, but there is one supreme being that we all worship,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by VCC President-elect Father Shenouda Boutros.

“We are all creations of God, we are brothers and sisters despite our faith and nationality, we are all one in our humanity,” Shenouda said.

“It is very important for us to have this opportunity to come together, share a meal and show respect and love for one another.”

Talk of terrorism and racism seemed unavoidable given the events of the past few months.

Elsedeaq Mosque’s Sheikh Alaa El Zokm said racism and terrorism were “two sides of the same coin, both of which we (Muslims and Christians) have united against”.

“We are a cohesive family, we will not allow one or both to divide us or weaken our efforts in resisting any threat to the human security and safety of our home Australia,” he said.

Uniting Church Minister Sandy Brodine, from the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches, said while acts of terrorism and racism were on the increase, “we are one and we love and care for each other”.

Mohamed took to opportunity to recognise while those attending ate in comfort, there were many who did not have a meal to share.

“Looking after our refugees is one of the key things we believe in as faith groups,” he said.

The overarching message of the night was that religion, whether Muslim or Christian, called us to love one another.

“Jesus teaches us to love, and that is not dependent on faith, creed or nationality,” Shenouda said.

Alaa agreed: “Religion is a call for peace and for the universe to be filled with love and happiness.”

During Ramadan, two main-meals are served, a suhoor before dawn and an iftar after sunset.

After the meal, attendees were invited to light a candle in recognition of their commitment to building and nurturing interfaith relationships.

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One Response to “Serving up goodwill”

  1. Brian Lauder

    What a great idea,, How come I wasn’t invited.? I wanna come next time..