Muslims, Catholics break bread at annual community iftar

  People bow their heads during a prayer at the 24th Muslim-Catholic Iftar dinner on Wednesday in Libertyville. John Starks/

Suburban Muslims and Catholics came together Wednesday to break bread and mark the end of a day’s fasting for Ramadan.

The Archdiocese of Chicago joined with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago for the 24th annual Muslim-Catholic Iftar at Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville.

Sponsored by CIOGC, the interfaith dinner celebrates bonds of fellowship during Lent and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“Since Lent and Ramadan overlap this year, we have the unique opportunity to discuss together how both communities are especially committed to prayer, fasting, and charitable giving during these respective holy times in our traditions,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “Encounters like these contribute so much to improving our mutual understanding of one another and give Muslims and Catholics a regular forum to build relationships of trust and friendship.”

For Catholics, Lent is a time to “focus on the basics and reflect more clearly on what grounds our faith,” he said.

Cupich and Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, chairman of CIOGC, opened the evening with remarks, and Bishop Mark Bartosic, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Imam Azfar Uddin, of Islamic Foundation North, offered reflections on “Healing through kindness.”

Cupich said Catholics are “greatly troubled” by the many wars going on in the world today, especially the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

“I have come to know, as best I can, the deep pain and trauma that many of you feel because of this war,” he said. “It is likely that some here tonight have lost family and friends in this conflict. I am here with you tonight to support you in your grief and assure you that you are heard and seen amidst your mourning.”

He added his voice to those calling for “the release of all hostages and the increase of humanitarian aid to those in such dire need.”

“I join the Holy Father in praying for a cease-fire in Gaza and for a two-state solution in the pursuit of a lasting peace to take root in Israel, Gaza, and the Palestinian territories, Cupich said.

Considered the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a time of increased spiritual reflection, charitable giving and prayer. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from predawn to sunset as a means of achieving piety, while practicing self-control, gratitude and compassion.

The month, which many Muslims globally began observing starting Monday, will end with the Eid al-Fitr festival, falling on April 9-10 depending on the sighting of the new moon.

  Muslims and Catholics serve themselves a meal to break the fast of Ramadan at the 24th Muslim-Catholic Iftar Wednesday in Libertyville. John Starks/
  The Rev. Raymond Webb, professor emeritus in the Department of Pastoral Theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, fills his plate to break the fast of Ramadan at the 24th Muslim-Catholic Iftar Wednesday in Libertyville. John Starks/
  Muslims perform the evening prayer before their fast-breaking meal for Ramadan at the 24th Muslim-Catholic Iftar Wednesday in Libertyville. John Starks/
  Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, speaks with dignitaries at the 24th Muslim-Catholic Iftar Wednesday in Libertyville. John Starks/
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