Submitted by Michiko Yokoyama and Dr. William Selig
A diverse mix of cultures and faiths came together to celebrate Ramadan and the Blessing Ceremony during an interfaith Iftar dinner Saturday, June 9, 2018 at the NOVA Family Church Learning Center in Fairfax, VA. The event was the first joint effort of the Family Federation, Virginia Chapter and Express Care.
Express Care, based in Herndon, Virginia, is a humanitarian organization that provides social service information and emergency assistance to low-income families, individuals, immigrants and refugees. The Family Federation, located in Fairfax, Virginia, promotes and supports the establishment of “ideal families” as the foundation for healthy societies and a world of peace.
The program drew a crowd of about 40 representing several faiths and cultures including guests from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Colombia, Japan, Germany, and of course, USA.
Prior to the breaking of the fast at sundown, Rev. Werner Seubert, Pastor, NOVA Family Church gave an introduction to the Family Federation-VA and UPF. He emphasized that world peace begins with the family. “God is looking at our hearts,” he said.
The first guest speaker was Anh C. Phan, outreach representative of Senator Mark R. Warner. Phan was invited by her friend, Nalia Alam. “Hard to say no to Nalia,” she said. Phan wished everyone a happy Ramadan and meaningful fast on behalf of the senator who was unable to attend due to other engagements.
Muhammad Irfan Qureshi spoke on the meaning of Ramadan and Ifar. Iftar is the evening meal which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. According to Islamic belief, Ramadan is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad and is one of the five pillars upon which Islam is founded along with prayer and zakat (charity).
Dr. William Selig, who served as the evening’s emcee, welcomed everyone with an enthusiastic “Welcome, Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal,” and gave an explanation about the Interfaith Blessing Movement. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad: “No foundation has been built in Islam more loved by Allah, than marriage (and family),” Dr. Selig described the Interfaith Blessing Movement as “a celebration of the commitment of couples, families and extended families to love and live for the sake of others, and to realize healthy communities centered on God.”