CAIRO – Muslims in Sacramento area in California will gather tonight at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims Center for a special iftar served by members of the local church amid efforts to foster interfaith relations in the community.
"This is historic," Irfan Haq, who helps organize iftars at the SALAM Center, told The Modesto Bee on Friday, July 27.
"They will not only be preparing the meal, but also breaking the fast with us, and joining us in prayer."
As the sun downs tonight, members of both faiths will gather at SALAM center to share iftar and prayers.
Inspired by Ramadan’s message of solidarity, members of First Covenant Church of Sacramento planned tonight’s iftar for the Muslim minority, the first time that a local church prepare an iftar meal.
Much of the food for iftar is the culmination of a weeklong cooking camp hosted by First Covenant Church to teach children ages 8 to 14 how to cook.
Tonight's menu includes meatballs made by the children with halal beef and lamb, pasta sauces and frosted cupcakes.
Members of the church will volunteer food items of their own, in addition to the children's creations.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
During Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Tonight’s iftar comes amid efforts to foster understanding relations in the Sacramento community.
"We want to teach about the similarities in the Bible and Quran," said Mark Shetler, executive pastor at First Covenant Church of Sacramento.
"There is too big a division today between Western society and the Arab world."
The iftar is not the first effort made by the church to educate its members about other faiths.
Earlier this year, the church held a six-week "equipping class" to teach the similarities and differences between Christianity and other faiths.
Church leaders continue to bring in a series of speakers from different faiths, including Haq of the SALAM Center, to educate their members.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
US Muslims celebrated the start of the holy fasting month on Friday, July 20, making it the first time for Ramadan in 30 years to come in mid July.
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