October 18, 2021


documenting the nigerian story…

How Iftar unites Muslims, Christians

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He added that for the past 11 years, he had been joining Islamic scholars to observe Iftar in order to promote religious tolerance across the country.

Ramadan is a sacred month devoted to fasting and prayers by Muslims to receive blessings from the Almighty God. Findings by Daily Trust show that Christians, too, tap into the blessings of the season as some of them join their Muslim friends and groups to observe the Iftar (breaking of fast) despite their religious differences.

Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Some Islamic and Christian adherents who have been sharing the bond during the ongoing Ramadan, told our correspondents that it was aimed at fostering religious tolerance, love, unity and peaceful coexistence among both faiths as well as unifying the society.

Recently in Abuja, the former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, shared iftar to almost 2,000 Muslim faithful at the Al-Habibiyah mosque in Guzape, Abuja, where they had gathered to perform prayers before breaking their Ramadan fast together with Christian visitors on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Onaiyekan, while handing out the platters to the Muslims, said: “We are doing our best to spread an attitude of openness because we believe that God does not want his children to kill each other. He wants us to live in peace. So, anything we can do to promote peace, we must do.”

The Chief Imam of Al-Habibiyyah Islamic Society, Fuad Adeyemi, said: “People see that the food we eat was given to us by a Christian clergyman, a cardinal that everyone knows. This is not an underground clergyman. It shows that we can really live together, that we can be friends, and that we can live in peace.”

Also, on April 25, Stella Erhuvwuoghene Okotete, Executive Director (Business Development) NEXIM Bank and member, APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (Women Rep) took time out to have iftar with Muslims in Abaji, Abuja.

“May God continue to strengthen us to serve diligently and empower us to make impactful contributions to the growth, safety, development and unity of our dear country, Amen. Ramadan Kareem to our Muslim brothers and sisters,” she said.

In Kwara State, Daily Trust learnt that some Christians host Muslim friends and associates for Iftar to break the fast with them in the spirit of rebirth and reconciliation.

While speaking on the significance of the Ramadan month, which emphasizes unity among residents of the state and the entire society, a member of the Muslim Congress (TMC), Ustadh Peleowo, said that it was a period of reformation not only for Muslims but also an instrument of tolerance among people from different religions, especially Christianity.

“Islam is a religion that preaches tolerance among people. The Ramadan season is used to preach love, perseverance, unity and peaceful coexistence among one another regardless of any religion one belongs to,” he added.

A Muslim, Akeem Olaide, said “The religion teaches us to live peacefully with all, irrespective of diverse faiths. During the Ramadan period, our Muslim brothers and sisters do invite our brothers from other faiths to come and share with us what Allah has bestowed on us when it is time to break our fast,” he added.

“While we shall be rewarded by the Almighty for sharing our resources with our fellow human beings, such occasion is always an opportunity to meet minds, share problems and even present the beauty of Islam to them as a religion that tolerates other religions. They will have trust in us which will go a long way in solidifying our relationship,” he stressed.

Dasilva Olusheyi, a Christian, encourages his Christian brethren to participate in Ramadan as a way of promoting unity and love among mankind.

“The period of Ramadan is when God Almighty manifests his love towards mankind.”

Also, Elder Wole Adedeji, a Christian, says, “One striking thing about Ramadan and the Lent is that they are synonymous in spiritual devotion to move closer to God which is greatly emphasized by the two religions.”

He added that fasting unites the two faiths, noting: “Those of us who have many Muslim friends find it very interesting to go and break fast with our Muslims brothers during Ramadan. I think Nigerians should imbibe the spirit of unity during this period to spread the message of peace and love rather than hatred and chaos which are not in line with both religions’ principles.”

In the South West, too, Christians and non-Muslim groups join their Muslim brethren to share the Ramadan ambience.

In a chat with our correspondent, the president of the Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG), Comrade AbdulHakeem Adegoke, said that the affinity was aimed at fostering harmony among ethnic nationalities in the South-West.

“We have held Iftar with the Arewa Consultative Forum and the message we are passing across is that of peace and harmony. We specifically thanked them for not embarking on reprisals during the recent crisis, especially in Oyo State,” he said.

“What we are saying basically is that Muslims and Christians, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Fulani are one. We have a responsibility to live together.”

Adegoke stressed that Iftar had brought together people of all ethnic nationalities to foster brotherhood and peaceful coexistence.

He also noted that the Ramadan had, to some extent, helped to douse ethnic tension in the South-West in the recent time with very limited incidents of insecurity, following efforts by prominent Yoruba indigenes under the platform of Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG) to foster harmony and peaceful coexistence among ethnic nationalities.

Daily Trust also gathered that a similar meeting which coincides with Iftar was held with the Igbo community recently to douse ethnic tension and entrench peace and harmony in the region.

In Kaduna, the spirit of unity, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence that Ramadan offers is also being enjoyed among Muslims and Christians.

Recently, some Christian faithful led by Pastor Yohanna Buru, the General Overseer of Christ Evangelical and Life Intervention Ministry, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, observed Iftar with their Muslim counterparts.

The cleric, who was accompanied by some church members to the residence of Malam Rilwanu Abdullahi at Kakuri-Makera, said that Iftar offered him the opportunity to spread the message of peace and better understanding of mankind.

“Every year, I visit Islamic leaders and scholars, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Sa’ad Abubakar lll; Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi; Sheikh Salihu Mai-Barota; Sheikh Ibrahim Yaya; Alaramma Abdulrahman Mohammed Bichi among others,” he said.

“We came with our clerics to build a good relationship with Muslims and our religious teachers. We must love our Muslim neighbours. That is why we are here to join them in celebrating the Holy month of Ramadan and to urge them to rededicate their lives to the worship of Allah,” Buru said.

He added that for the past 11 years, he had been joining Islamic scholars to observe Iftar in order to promote religious tolerance across the country.

Buru added that during the last lenten period which finished in April, Muslims visited him at home to join in the breaking of fast despite economic recession.

“God created us to be in relationship with all human beings, irrespective of tribe, culture, religion, colour, size, region and continent,” he stressed.

Malam Abdullahi, who hosted the Christian delegation, expressed delight at the visit and thanked the Christian clerics who joined him for iftar. “Peace is all we need in Nigeria and all over the world. Only God can reward Pastor Yohanna for the good intention of promoting peace in the country. There is need for Muslims to emulate such gesture which is aimed at uniting the people and this would help in reducing ethno-religious and political clashes in the country,” he said.

Another Christian group led by a former sports minister, Solomon Dalung, visited the residence of renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, to join him in breaking the fast. The former minister was accompanied by Pastor Yohanna Buru and other clerics to dine with the Islamic cleric.

Appreciating their visit, Dahiru Bauchi told the delegation that Muslims and Christians need to live together in peace.

While commending them for sustaining the tempo of observing iftar with Muslims annually, he said that such visits would go a long way in strengthening the understanding between the two religions.


From Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos) & Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna)