Civic Engagement Iftar aims to build bridges in faith community

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Kashif Khan sees many different reasons why the annual Civic Engagement Iftar & Dinner Reception is important.

“We’re all so busy. For us it’s important to pause and celebrate the partnership and engagement we’ve built in the community,” said Khan, a Carmel resident and a member of Al Salam Foundation’s board of directors. “We can’t succeed without having partners outside of our faith and within the municipal and government organizations. We’ve got tremendous support. It’s our way of recognizing and celebrating that, especially in the month of Ramadan when it is a month of fasting and celebrating and introspect.”

Madni

The Annual Civic Engagement Iftar, hosted by Al Salam, is set for 7:30 p.m. May 24 at Creekside Middle School, 3525 E. 126th St.

Ashhar Madni, a Carmel resident and vice president of the Al Salam board of trustees, said it was first called the Mayor’s Iftar because it was held in Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard’s backyard.

It has grown beyond that over time.

“We started inviting other faith groups, Christian, Jewish and Hindu as well as elected officials beyond the City of Carmel,” Madni said. “So the last few years we’ve called it Civic Engagement. It’s an opportunity to showcase our Islamic faith to people that are not Muslim so they see how we practice in America, not just what they see on TV, and to realize we are just like any other faith group in America.”

The Carmel event is held to break the fast during Ramadan with other families from the community and other faith traditions. During the month-long Ramadan, Muslims fast from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. This year Ramadan started May 5 and ends June 4.

“It’s a happy event. We break bread and drink,” Madni said. “More than ever these days, it’s important to cross community bridges and understanding.”

Khan said it helps understanding on both sides.

“When you break bread together, you start developing a bond with somebody,” Khan said. “We’ve been invited to churches and synagogues and learn about other faiths. We’ve basically come to the conclusion there is more symmetry within the faiths than the differences, which are primarily highlighted in the media I guess. I think the interfaith alliances not just in Carmel but in North America are a model for predominately Muslim countries. Some of those faith alliances are not as visible as they are here.”

Khan, 44, moved from Pakistan when he was 11.

Tickets are $20 for those 13 and older. Admission is free for ages 12 or younger. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com/e/civic-engagement-iftar-2019-tickets-60735322986.

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