2011 Iftar Dinners
Turquoise Harmony Institute has hosted the annual Friendship and Dialogue Iftar Dinner programs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Around 500 distinguished guests gathered
for the fast breaking dinners in three cities to build bridges of friendship and strengthen dialogue and tolerance.
Leaders of all levels of government, faith communities, academia, civil society and media were present and the commitment to dialogue has been re-emphasized. On behalf of the host, THI, the regional directors called for reassurance on stronger commitment to dialogue.
"The one thing that we cannot compromise as we move forward and attend to new challenges is dialogue. We can negotiate about everything else but not about dialogue as a method. When we walk out this hall tonight, we would like to see greater commitment to dialogue and tolerance." said Aydin Inal, director of THI in Gauteng.
The Premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane was the Guest of Honor among the dignitaries in Johannesburg and said that dialogue should be a philosophy to live by rather than being the subject of theoretical deliberations. Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Cllr. Parks Tau, reflected on an interfaith initiative prior to the recent elections and reiterated their commitment to fostering social cohesion.
Prof Adam Habib, D. Vice Chancellor of UJ, spoke on interpretations of the religious texts and the importance of interpreting them with an open mind so that faiths do not become exclusivist phenomena. He expressed his approval and admiration in the way Prof Alexander interpreted Ramadaan from Christian perspective. He also emphasized the importance of crossing bounderies.
In Cape Town the program was attended by Premier Helen Zille. Premier Zille emphasized the symbolism of fasting and its profound effect on the community. She also said the interfaith space available in the Western Cape which can be a practical laboratory for the academic program described by Prof Alexander. She also statted that the greatest dimension Islam brings to our faith community is the understanding of discipline it takes for the spiritual life.
Premier congratulated THI and said “the work of THI has an impact beyond the weight of the small numbers involved” and added “Thank u for giving us these safe spaces”.
Deputy Min Fatima Chohan reflected on the life of The Prophet Muhammed (PbUH), and how practical His leadership was. She pointed that “I am right but I could be wrong and my sister is wrong but she could be right” should be the basis for our approach to others. She ended her speech by saying “If anybody was doing God's work it is your institute”.
Prince Buthelezi was among the dignitaries in Durban and expressed his thanks to THI and indicated that ideas of Fethulah Gulen and the work of THI foster our courage for coexistence. He stated that South Africans are patriots and willing to work together under a common cause. Prince Buthelezi pointed to the importance of presenting our differences as a points of strength.
Prof Scott Alexander from the Catholic Theological Union travelled from Chicago, US, to join the Iftar dinners as the key note speaker. Prof Alexander spoke about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan from Catholic perspective and drew parallels between Ramadan experience of Muslims and Christmas experience in Christianity. The speech was followed with great enthusiasm and interest by the attendees.
In addition, the dignitaries included, among many others, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Cllr Parks Tau, Mr Richard Mapunya, Ms Ela Ghandi, KZN Finance MEC Cronje, Cardinal Napier, Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Mr. Yusuf Abramjee, and many other distinguished representatives of media, academia, civil society, faith communities, etc.
Guests indicated their delight to be present at the event and expressed thanks to THI.
The videos of the speeches and comments may be viewed at the multimedia section. Click here to go to the video gallery.
You maybalso view photos of the dinner program by clicking here: