Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Muslims, Christians come together during Ramadan

July 31, 2013


Upcoming community fast-breaking dinners:

  • August 1 at the Carnegie Building.
  • August 2 at Plymouth Congregational Church.
  • August 6 at Unity Church of Lawrence

Dinners run from 7:45 to 9:15 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Eyyup Esen is a long way from his family back in Turkey, which is especially hard now during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when followers of Islam fast from sunrise to sunset. The Kansas University doctoral candidate is used to breaking the fast each night of Ramadan with a large Turkish dinner with fellow Muslims, family and friends back home.

But Esen found a new way to celebrate Ramadan here in America by sharing the experience with Christian friends and neighbors in Lawrence at six community fast-breaking dinners, sponsored by members of the Institute of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialog of the Southwest.

About 30 people came to the event last night at First United Methodist Church to the learn about Ramadan and eat a traditional Turkish dinner just after sunset yesterday. An unusual situation, maybe, for Muslims and Christians to come together at a church, but Esen says it was just the type of experience the institute encourages and the world needs.

“We are all essentially human beings, when we come together, we become aware that we are all really equal,” Esen said. “Our goal is to bring people of all races, genders and religions together to show people we have a lot of commonalities. We need to make peace allies, not fear allies.”

Just a handful of Muslim women prepared the meal last night of Turkish chicken, salad, potatoes, rice and “Semolina,” a sweet, spongy yellow cake for desert. The dinners, which are free and open to the public, are paid for entirely by the few Turkish families, as well. But Esen says they are happy to help provide the fast-breaking dinners to the public because of the nature of the holy month.

“At Ramadan especially, people become more cordial and charitable. Every guest is like a blessing,” Esen said. “We have a saying that goes, ‘guests bring 10 blessings with them, when they eat they take one, but when they go, leave nine with you.’”

Shannah McAleer, director of Children’s Ministries at First United Methodist Church, got involved with the Institute of Intercultural Interfaith Dialog when she met Esen two years ago. She says that participating events like the fast-breaking dinners creates an opportunity for people of all religions to come together to find a common ground.

“There is not much more important in this world that coming together to find peace,” McAleer said. “And I believe as Ghandi did, that we will not find true peace until all religions can get along side-by-side.”


Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

It's unfortunate that there was no Jewish participation, but that's not very surprising due to the rather small number of Jews in this area. From a quick reading of this article, it appears that the Ramadan fast-breaking dinner has a lot in common with a Jewish Passover Seder. Although of course, they celebrate vastly different things. What they have in common is the community spirit of togetherness, and the way guests are welcomed.

When, or if, everyone realizes that we have so much more in common than we have in differences, the world will be a much more peaceful place. It sounds as though this is a step in the right direction.

“Think globally, act locally.”
- Paul McCartney

voevoda 4 years, 10 months ago

I understand that there was a fast-breaking dinner held this year at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City.

Armen Kurdian 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm going to assume that an equivalent dinner between Muslims and Christians is going to be held at a mosque? Otherwise, this was a pointless endeavor.

asixbury 4 years, 10 months ago

Is there a mosque in Lawrence? The location of the dinner does not make it pointless.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes, there is a mosque in Lawrence, and there has been one since at least the 1980s when my boss at work was a very likeable Muslim, but at a couple different locations. The current location of the mosque in Lawrence is:
Islamic Center of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Dr, Lawrence, KS

The building used to be a Christian church, and so it does not have the architecture that you might expect if you are familiar with the typical style of mosques in the Middle East. But it's only a building, it's the faith of the people that worship there that makes it a mosque.

asixbury 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the info Ron! I would have been surprised if Lawrence didn't have one.

Bob Forer 4 years, 10 months ago

Ron, Do you really think it was necessary to qualify "Muslim" with "likeable, " your implication, at least how i read it, is that most Muslims are not likeable? And frankly, you don't seem like the type of person who would intentionally mean something like that.

shaq3232 4 years, 10 months ago

Dear All,

Thank you for your great comments. I am one of the organizer of the events. We have been doing events with Christians, Jews and people of other faith and traditions regardless race, ethnicity, gender, and so on. Please visit our web-sites to have better understanding of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.



For further questions, feel free to e-mail us at Thank you,

RazzelT 4 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting that a Christian quotes a Hindu regarding relations with Muslims.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

You don't think that all religions and philosophies don't have at least a bit of wisdom?

asixbury 4 years, 10 months ago

That fits perfectly with the purpose of these dinners and the interfaith in not just Christian.

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