Inter-Faith Iftar at Islamic Center of Long Island

Two hours to sunset on a Wednesday, community members, clergy from various houses of worship, political leaders, Town Supervisors, Policemen rolled into the Islamic Center to attend the event. Keeping true to its tradition, ICLI hosted 15th Annual Interfaith Iftaar on May 30, 2018. The basketball court, ICLI’s new priced addition was buzzing with people. The event was set up with grandeur yet exhibited humbleness, a trademark of ICLI. Over 200 people filled the room seated on golden chairs and green tablecloths. Along with some reading materials were dates and water bottles, waiting

to be consumed at the first sign of sunset. The aroma from the dinner prep also filled the room, almost tempting the fasting bunch.

The Inspiration of the evening was this verse from the Holy Quran, 49:13

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, Chair and Mr. Habeeb Ahmed President of the Islamic Center of Long Island welcomed the guests. Chaudhry recalled the journey of the Islamic Center from hosting a dozen people in a small room, to the large congregation that was in front of her. She reflected on the verse “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” and was able to articulate why interfaith was dear to her as a Muslim.

Mr. Ahmed introduced Dr. Mufti Mohammed Farhan as their new Executive Director. He gave a very thought-provoking short speech. The fulcrum of the speech was a sweet story which focused on how the world can be fixed by fixing relationships amongst individuals. Mr. Habeeb Ahmed made sure to acknowledge all guests and was his usual witty self. He was followed by Dr. Faroque Khan who introduced the work of the newly established Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island. He attested to the strength of building interfaith relationships and recalled numerous occasions when during the strong waves of Islamophobia all interfaith partners stood up for the rights and dignity of the Muslim Community at the Islamic Center of Long Island.

Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, Reverend Mark Lukens of Bethany Congregational Church and Dr. Sheikh Negm, Chief Advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt and a visiting scholar at ICLI, gave inspiring talks on the attributes of fasting in the three Abrahamic traditions. Rabbi White and Rev. Lukens mentioned how the Interfaith Iftar is one of his favorite events due to the warmth and spirit of camaraderie and the dinner especially ICLI’s signature dish Seemie Ahmed’s Mango Mousse. Commissioner Ryder mentioned that during the day he had to deal with a murder incident but was glad to be in a place of peace by evening. There were short speeches by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Supervisors Judi Bosworth (Town of North Hempstead), Laura Gillan (Town of Hempstead), Joseph Saladino (Town of Oyster Bay). Presiding officer Rich Nicolleo and Legislator Siela Bynoe offered their Ramadan Greetings to the guests. Council Women Anna Kaplan and Viviana Russel along with Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Commissioner Health and Human Services John Imhoff, Deputy Commissioner Parks Timothy O’ Connell, and Deputy Commissioner Minority Affairs Farah Mozzawala were among the guests. Keeping up with the tradition of charity in the month of Ramadan. Like previous years there was a cate cutting ceremony, and the cake was cut by county executive, the 3 town supervisors and the police commissioner. Long Island Council of Churches was presented with a 5000-dollar gift on behalf of ICLI. The check was accepted by Rev King who thanked ICLI for all their love and support. Muslim and Jewish ladies from Sisterhood of Shalom Shalom filled two tables attesting to the unity between both communities. They were acknowledged by Dr Isma Chaudhry for their efforts in promoting community building. Dr. Chaudhry also acknowledged the crossing guards who help the congregants cross the Brush Hollow Road every night when they come for the night prayers.

Call for prayer marked the day to a near close. All guests joined in to break the fast with dates and water. Dinner was opened, and the guests were served a multitude of dishes which everyone seemed to enjoy. Multi side conversations and greetings were exchanges between guests from all walks of life. Another beautiful event, a testament to ICLI’s involvement with the larger community of Long Island.

Azhar Bhatt