Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – On the occasion of the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, the bishop of Hyderabad opened the doors of his own home "to our Muslim brothers and sisters" for a moment of shared celebration.
Mgr Shukardin Samson, who was recently appointed to the diocese of Sindh province in southern Pakistan, wanted to promote a moment of encounter and dialogue for the Eid al Fitr in a nation often torn by sectarian violence.
The meeting was held last Tuesday, 14 July, the 27th day of Ramadan, known in Muslim tradition as the "Night of Destiny" in which God revealed the first verses of the Qur‘an to the Prophet Muhammad.
The new bishop worked hard to organise the meeting, which saw the participation of government officials, religious leaders, friends and prominent dignitaries from both faith communities.
The daily fast ended in a joint prayer, followed by a convivial moment. Welcoming those present, Mgr Shukardin read the message issued by Card Jean Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of Ramadan.
Titled ‘Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion,’ the English language message was read first, with a summary given in Urdu, so that everyone could understand it.
Those present gave the message a round of applause to show their appreciation for the cardinal’s remarks, and discussed its main points.
Participants agreed that they shared the same objectives, such as a desire to boost ties between Muslims and Christians and an unequivocal condemnation of violence in the world committed in the name of religion, because "terrorists have no faith".
To prevent abuse, everyone agreed that humans need unity, tolerance and the capacity to accept others.
Muslim dignitaries and political leaders in attendance welcomed Pope Francis’ wishes to the Islamic world for the feast of Eid al Fitr.
They stressed that this was "the first inter-religious meeting" in Hyderabad on the occasion of Ramadan. From here on, they added, everyone must work to "strengthen future cooperation."
For Bishop Shukardin, this is "a ray of hope," one that foreshadows future relationships in which "love and harmony" may be built between representatives of different faiths and peace be promoted among and between communities.