The Christian community opens its doors to its Muslim brothers and sisters, offering an iftar meal. In Ramallah, parish priests welcome the marginalised. For Fr Shomali, “There is an Arab saying, 'when there is bread and salt between us, we have the same blood'.”
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - In Palestine, the month of Ramadan is an occasion to "witness a brotherly rapport” between Christians and Muslims, in the name of charity, this according to Fr Ibrahim Shomali, a Palestinian priest and chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, the holy month for Islam ended today with a celebration at the crowded al-Aqsa mosque.
"Ramadan,” Fr Shomali said, “is an important month for Muslims, a time to think about neighbours, family, loved ones lost in war or to natural causes. In this context, Christians also try to do something as a token of a brotherly rapport."
For this reason, every year the parishes and the Custody of the Holy Land open their doors to their Muslim brothers and sisters, offering iftar, the dinner after sundown that marks the end of the fast.
This tradition goes back a long way, to the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219. Iftar is also an opportunity to reach out to the downtrodden.
"For example, for almost ten years all parish priests in Ramallah have invited the city’s poorest, the street sweepers, who cannot offer iftar to anyone".
"It's nice to experience such moments,” Fr Shomali said. “There is an Arab saying, 'when there is bread and salt between us, we have the same blood'. Thus, even if our faiths are different, we are close in human and physical terms because we have eaten the same food.”
"This is important for dialogue. When iftar dinners are held, we eat together, then there is a moment of prayer for them, to which we are spectators. Next, we talk about how to live together. We must understand how they live, what we must do and bear witness to, and work for the good of man in this land."