Dubai: Emiratis and other Muslims ending their fast, reading the Quran and offering namaz marked an interfaith iftar — end of the fast — hosted by the Gurunanak Darbar Gurudwara on Wednesday.
Around 120 Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians belonging to dozens of nationalities, including representatives of seven diplomatic missions, attended the ceremony.
This is the fifth time that the Sikh temple in Jebel Ali is organising an inter-faith iftar, said Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of the gurudwara.
The temple is known for offering free food to visitors from its community kitchen, called "langar".
Exchanging handshakes and pleasantries, the guests — men, women and children — enjoyed a vegetarian iftar at a specially-arranged area in the langar while regular visitors feasted on the other side of the hall.
What was common among everyone inside the place of worship was a head covering.
Many Muslims were seen wearing the saffron coloured headgear supplied by the gurudwara.
“The UAE is the only country where one can see such perfect coexistence of all nationalities and religions… We are very proud to share with our Muslim brothers a great sense and feeling of equality and mutual respect,” Kandhari said.
Islamic scholars Abdul Hadi and Ahmad Hamid of Al Manar Islamic Centre explained the essence of Ramadan to people of other religions as there are many who generally associate the fasting month with just iftar and suhour.
Dignitaries, including Mirza Hussain Al Sayegh, Vipul and Surender Singh Kandhari, joined representatives of several diplomatic missions for iftar at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara. (Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News)
The chief guest at the iftar was Mirza Hussain Al Sayegh, Director of the office of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
“You can see tolerance, cooperation, harmony and happiness in the faces of everybody who has got together in this spiritual place. This is [an occasion] which brings the UAE and India together as well,” said Al Sayegh who has served in India as a top diplomat.
“We need everybody. Everybody in our land is important. Everybody here is a small part of a big block. In order to keep the big block intact, everybody should be linked. This iftar is an occasion for that. It also shows that Islam is not a religion that wants to seclude itself,” he told Gulf News.
In his speech, he commented: “Now we can see the whole world in turmoil. Luckily, our country will be stable and will be enjoying peace and harmony with everybody on its soil.”
Indian Consul General in Dubai Vipul said the gurudwara is doing a great service by getting all communities and religions together.
He cited the example of the gurudwara achieving a Guinness World Record by hosting breakfast for 101 nationalities in April. “I see today’s iftar also as a step in that direction. It is a great confluence of three things.”
“One, the UAE, particularly Dubai…The number of nationalities who live together in Dubai in a very liberal atmosphere is second to none right now in the world. Second is India where all religions and communities coexist together. Of course, the third is the gurudwara wherein every community and religion is welcome.”
Bisrat Ghirmay from Eritrea, who was present with her brother Teame, said it was the first time they attended such an event.
“It is a wonderful feeling. We are very delighted and the food is also very delicious.”
Mitchel Peeters from Belgium, who has been to the gurudwara to a few times earlier, said it is always a great experience to visit the temple and be with a mixture of many nationalities and religions. “This special occasion with iftar has given it an extra dimension.”