Interfaith iftar event in Detroit: A time of national healing through prayer


Syed Shamshad Nasir, Missionary, USA

Muhammad Ahmad Sahib, Secretary Tabligh Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Detroit, reports that their Jamaat held its annual interfaith iftar, titled “A Time of National Healing through Prayer” on 2 May 2021.

The iftar has been part of the Detroit Jamaat’s annual tradition where interfaith leaders, public officials and friends and neighbours join every year at the Mahmood Mosque with Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Detroit. Like last year, due to the ongoing pandemic across the US and state-wide restrictions on gatherings, the programme was held virtually.

This year’s interfaith iftar was kicked off by the local president, Maqbool Tahir Sahib, who welcomed the guests and the members. The formal programme proceedings started with a recitation from the Holy Quran with translation. Then, Maqbool Tahir Sahib gave a brief overview of the evening and its background.

A brief video was played regarding Ramadan. Following the video, Secretary Tabligh, Muhammad Ahmad Sahib gave a brief presentation on the background of Ramadan and fasting. 

The event moderator, Secretary Public Affairs, Nasir Bukhari Sahib introduced and invited Rev Eric Williams of the St Philip’s Episcopal Church of Rochester, Michigan. Rev Eric Williams started off by thanking Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya for inviting him to the interfaith iftar event. He touched on the pandemic and other societal issues of racial inequality, systemic justice problems facing the country and stressed that we need to embrace the diversity of faith as well as racial diversity. He quoted inspiring quotes of a Christian mystic, Thomas Morton and then shared prayers from the scripture.

Following this, Rev Dr Melissa Lynn DeRosia of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan also thanked the Jamaat for the invitation and the opportunity to be part of the interfaith iftar event. She brought greetings from her congregation and shared a story of two disciples who were the survivors of the trauma of Jesus’ ordeal on the cross.

Rev Melissa prayed that as a nation we are going through the Covid-19 pandemic and many other crises such as climate crisis, racial and gender related violence and prayed that may God bring peace and healing to us all during these difficult times.

Nassy Sankagiri who was representing the Bharatiya Hindu Temple of Troy, shared a Hindu epic, Maha Bharta, after the great Battle of Maha Bharta that states the people who departed during the battles are lucky ones as they have been taken by God into His lap. Thus, those who departed from us during the pandemic were the lucky ones as they had been taken by God; however, the ones that survived had to suffer the great loss of their loved ones, said Nassy Sankagiri. He also mentioned the fasting concept in Hinduism. He thanked and congratulated Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya for hosting such a wonderful event.

The Jewish faith was represented by Edward Chezick who thanked for the opportunity to be part of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya’s network of friends and prayed that may God remove the situation created by the current pandemic. 

Edward Chezick represented the Jewish Synagogue of Troy Shir Tikvah and mentioned that he was representing not only the Jewish faith but also the Troy Interfaith Group (TIG) and thanked Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya for their long and unwavering support of the interfaith group. He then offered prayers from the Jewish traditions.

At the end, the keynote speaker, Regional Missionary, Shamshad Nasir Sahib welcomed the interfaith leaders and thanked them for their participation. He spoke about Ramadan and the concept of fasting in Islam. 

At the end, Shamshad Sahib requested all to pray for all the front-line workers including doctors, healthcare workers and other workers –that may Allah protect them all in these difficult times. He then led the attendees in silent prayer.

Overall feedback from guests and Jamaat members was positive. Below is some of the feedback received:

Rev Eric Williams of the St Philip’s Episcopal Church of Rochester said:

“What an honour and privilege it was to be part of the iftar. Thank you for the invitation. I wonder if you might be willing to come to St Philip’s some time to talk about the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Hopefully, we will be resuming our in-person gatherings this Fall.”

Rev Melissa DeRosia of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan said:

“[…] Thank you for the invitation and it was great to see all of you again. It was an honour and pleasure to be present alongside many other faith leaders. I am looking forward to the in-person iftar next year. Ramadan Mubarak.”

Nasy Sankagiri of the Bhartia Temple expressed:

“Greetings in Holy Ramadan. I was honoured to speak at the event. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the iftar program. Best regards.”

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