News Story

Mormons and Muslims Join Together to Share Fasting Traditions

Three Quebec congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently shared their fasting traditions with local Muslim community members in three separate events. The Mormon members, who typically fast the first Sunday of each month, joined with the Muslims, who were fasting as part of Ramadan, to discuss their respective fasting traditions. Afterwards, the two groups shared an iftar meal, the evening meal Muslims eat to break their fast every day during Ramadan.

Participants at the events discovered that Mormons and Muslims both use their time of fasting as a reminder to help the needy. Muslims believe that they have a responsibility to feed and clothe those in need. This belief leads them to donate to charities during Ramadan. Similarly, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked to contribute the money they would have spent on food during their monthly fast (typically two meals) to the Church’s welfare system. This money is called a “fast offering” and is used to assist the poor and needy.

Members of both faith traditions find that fasting deepens their sense of community by drawing congregations and families closer together. Both faiths also believe that fasting increases both physical and spiritual strength. While fasting, Muslims spend more time praying at the mosque, letting go of the concerns of the “natural man” and focusing more on the divine. Latter-day Saints may choose to fast for many reasons, among them to worship God and express gratitude to Him, to ask God to bless the sick or afflicted, to receive answers to prayer and to seek comfort during times of difficulty, sorrow or mourning. Both faith traditions hold the belief that fasting humbles us and helps us draw closer to God.

Heather Ward, who helped organize an iftar event in Montreal, said, “I learned and marvelled over the similarities [between why Mormons and Muslims fast] while at a break-the-fast iftar we held with a group of Muslims from our area. It felt more like old friends coming together for dinner than strangers.”

After the dinner, Serif Damar, director of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute of Montreal, observed, “It was a wonderful event indeed! My people are in love with yours. Everyone enjoyed being there.”

“While we may have many cultural and theological differences, we can find love and community with our Muslim brothers and sisters, knowing that we share such a beautiful fasting tradition,” added Ward.

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