‘Interfaith Dialogue’ Highlights Ramadan Observance At Masjid-e-Ali Mosque

Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Macari

The Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Macari of Community Presbyterian Church in Edison speaks at the interfaith dialogue program.

It’s possible for adherents of different religious beliefs to work and coexist together without sacrificing their own beliefs, a group of about 200 people was told July 24.

The gathering was at the Masjid-e-Ali mosque on Cedar Grove Lane, where the 26th day of Ramadan was observed with the mosque’s annual interfaith dialogue program.

Featured speakers at the event were Rabbi Deb Smith of the Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Community of Morris County; Rev. Dr. Kenneth Macari, pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in Edison, and Professor Aun Hasan Ali, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies, Montreal, Canada.

Also speaking were Sayed Rizwan Rizvi, the mosque’s Imam, and Dr. Parviz Hamedani, the mosque’s vice president.

Ramadan is considered by Muslims to be the most sacred month of the year, and is observed by fasting during daylight hours.

Fasting was the them of Macari’s talk, in which he made comparisons between Ramadan and the Christian observance of Lent.

Macari said fasting shouldn’t be seen as only giving up food and drink for a specified time.

“Maybe fasting is taking the time to read God’s word and being renewed,” he said.

Rabbi Deb Smith

Rabbi Deb Smith of the Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Community.

Observers of all religious beliefs must work together, Smith said.

“On this planet, we all need each other, and we need the best of what each of us can be,” she said. “We need to begin conversations with other religions. We need to see where we intersect.”

“Each religion has unique traits that are needed for the Earth,” Smith said. “The Earth needs our distinctiveness and it needs our commonalities to survive in a healthy way.”

Prof. Aun Hasan Ali.

Prof. Aun Hasan Ali.

Continuing that thought, Ali said that “what we share in common is not inconsequential.”

“Each individual community has a stake in the success of other communities,” he said.

“The Quran’s vision for interfaith dialogue is rooted in the conviction that God alone deserves to be worshipped,” he said.

“Belief matters,” Ali said but so does interpersonal interactions.

“How we treat people matters,” he said. “It will affect how successful we are in building connections.”

Ali said the main way to promote interfaith dialogue is to do things together that have nothing to do with religion.

“There have to be less Muslim basketball leagues, and more just basketball leagues,” he said.

Hamedani said that people should not be seen only as adherents to a particular faith tradition.

Dr. Parvez Hamedani

Dr. Parvez Hamedani.

“We are all brothers and sisters in humanity,” he said.

“Everybody in this room, whatever your background may be, we need to force the governments of the world to think in the paths of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed and stop the barbarism going on in the world,” he said.

Summing up the evening’s speakers, Rizvi said that “we should be able to abide everyone else’s beliefs” without compromising one’s own.

“We don’t need to discuss our ideologies, that will not be a fruitful way for us to produce harmony,” he said.

Talking about shared emotional experiences behind the religious traditions is a better tactic, he said.

Sayed Rizwan Rizvi

Sayed Rizwan Rizvi, Imam of the Masjid-e-Ali mosque.

“From that aspect, you will be able to bridge the gaps,” he said.

The program was followed by evening prayers, after which the traditional daily Ramadan end-of-fast dinner was held.







Masjid-e-Ali Interfaith Program 2014

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