SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - “We are all one” was the theme Tuesday night as about 200 Muslims and non-Muslims joined together to break the day’s fast at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey on Route 1.
“We had a wonderful outing today,” ISCJ President Arif Patel said. “We invited everyone (from the community) out for our Iftar (the term for the evening meal that breaks the day’s fasting).”
The Iftar was held in a large tent outside the Mosque and followed a half-hour long evening prayer service inside the sanctuary, starting at 8 p.m.
During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which runs through July 17, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day and are not allowed food and water during that time, Patel said.
They are also to spend that time in prayerful reflection, according to members of the mosque.
“This is one of our obligations in the Muslim faith,” Patel said. “We invited our friends and neighbors, elected officials, and the community, so we could break bread together.”
Mayor Frank Gambatese as well as Township Council members Jo Hochman, Joe Camarota and Assemblywoman Donna Simon, R-16, took part in the event with members of the South Brunswick Clergy Association.
“We (my daughter Alexis and I) were so impressed with the sense of community,” Simon said. “Azra (Baig) invited us out here to experience the cultural diversity and to break the fast.”
Attendees lined both sides of a long buffet table with a large variety of Halal (or properly prepared) dishes including dates, chicken, salad and pastas.
“This shows the best of our community,” President Patel said. “It is so amazing when everyone can come together under one roof and break bread together, eat together, share stories together and discuss our commonalities and all the wonderful things that are part of our human nature.”
He said that despite the differences among the various people in the community, in the end, as humans, “we agree on almost everything.”
“You can see the love,” he said. “This is going to be a tradition (here).”
Baig, a member of the South Brunswick Board of Education, as well as the ISCJ, said that the event was part of an initiative she, and a fellow mosque member from North Brunswick, Saima Iqubal, are spearheading during Ramadan to encourage sharing food with neighbors and friends.
“We both started the (Ramadan Sharing) Initiative at the beginning of the month,” Baig said. “We thought it would be nice for the mosque to share in celebrating the fasting and the month of Ramadan with our community leaders and elected officials.”