News Release

Mormons and Muslims Break the Fast Together in Montreal

Sunday, July 3, marked the first time that iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast, was held at a Mormon chapel in Montreal. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) of Montreal shared a meal at sunset to celebrate Ramadan and to mark the end of the monthly Mormon fast Sunday. Both groups seized the opportunity to engage in dialogue and to share information about their respective fasting traditions.

One year ago, members of the Church were invited by IDI to participate in their annual Ramadan “Meet Your Neighbour” program. This program offers non-Muslims a chance to share iftar and to be welcomed into a Muslim home during the month of Ramadan. After participating in such a dinner last year, Janell Gehmlich, director of public affairs for the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake, decided this year to invite Serif Damar, director of the IDI, to co-host an interfaith dinner on the fast Sunday that fell during the month of Ramadan.

“It is important to recognize how much we have in common with other people of faith and take the time to get to know each other. Fasting is a significant ritual in Muslim and Mormon religious communities, so the one day a year that we were both observing the fast seemed the perfect opportunity to invite our Muslim neighbors into our chapel to share our respective faith traditions around fasting and enjoy a meal together,” Gemlich said.

Mr. Damar observed, "In every language, in every culture, there is a notion of fearing what we do not know. These kinds of events eliminate fear by lowering the barriers that separate people, communities and cultures."

“Breaking the fast is about sharing,” commented Mrs. Camille Akbas, vice president of IDI. “You cannot break a fast alone or only with your husband or child. So things like this are good, because it allows us to (share Ramadan) with you, with your community. It's nice to share a moment like this because it is faith that counts.”

President Jay Glowa of the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake spoke for all of the Latter-day Saints in attendance when he said, “This event was a wonderful opportunity for us to understand and begin to develop a love and appreciation for our brothers and sisters from the Muslim faith.”

Muslims and Mormons are looking forward to an encore next year.

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