Austria: Invitations to Iftar
By Maria Pammer, UPF Austria
On Monday, May 13th an Iftar celebration took place at the old town hall in Linz, which was organized by the Islamic religious community Linz. It was not only attended by representatives of various Mosque associations, but also by political representatives such as the lord mayor of the city of Linz and representatives of the various religious communities in Upper Austria, such as the bishop from the diocese of Linz, the president of the Jewish religious community of Linz and the superintendent of the Protestant Church.
The church leadership of the Unification Church in Upper Austria and the person responsible for UPF in Upper Austria were officially invited and welcomed.
On Friday, May 17th the Imam Lopo Saudin from the mosque of the Bosnian Muslims of Steyr and Mr. Mehmed Becirbasic, both UPF peace ambassadors, invited to a common fast-breaking. This mosque had already organized together with UPF Upper Austria a well-attended interreligious breakfast. The invitation to the Iftar celebration was not only accepted by us, but also representatives of various Christian denominations from Steyr joined this celebration.
After a welcome by Mr. Becirbasic and a round of presentations the Imam explained the meaning of the fasting month Ramadan:
Ramadan is a special time for each Muslim – a time of reflection, of patience, of joy and of togetherness. An extraordinary moment, which we enjoy to share and celebrate together with family and friends, is the daily evening Iftar. It is therefore a special pleasure to us to welcome you as guests to the fast-breaking.
Then we gathered in the prayer room. At 8:40 pm we were then entertained to all kinds of delicacies of the Bosnian cuisine. After the end of the meal the mosque filled with ever more believers from Steyr and the surrounding area. In the end 120 people of every age had arrived for a common prayer.
We were very impressed by the sincerity and length of the prayer. Finally the Imam invited all guests to share their thoughts with those present.
The message of Bogdan as representative of the Unification Church and the messages of representatives of the Protestant and the Catholic Church were received by the believers in the mosque very well.
Bogdan stressed the common roots of the Abrahamic religions and emphasized how precious the main idea of Ramadan is, to purify one’s thoughts, that good thoughts next lead to good words and finally to good deeds.
In this context I extended an invitation to the forthcoming Peace Road-Event in Upper Austria. We, having been guests, felt a warm atmosphere in the mosque characterized by mutual respect.