Khaleej Times | Dubai, UAE | 24 June 2015 | Asia Samachar |
10-member delegation from the Al Manar Islamic Centre had last year visited Guru Nanak Darbar to promote inter-religious understanding.
At 7.16pm, the official time for breaking fast during the holy month of Ramadan in Dubai, the air in the langar hall (dining area of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, a Sikh temple) was filled with azaan, instead of the usual kirtan, in honour and regard of the visitors from Al Manar Centre.
On one side, scores of people sat cross-legged in rows waiting to be served langar (dinner), while the other side was cordoned off for Muslim prayers.
The experience was overwhelming. “I have never seen anything like this before,” said Surjit Kaur, an elderly lady from the north Indian state of Punjab, who is visiting her son in Dubai.
In one of the firsts for the Gurudwara that was opened in January 2012, a 10-member delegation from the Al Manar Islamic Centre visited the holy place of worship for Sikhs on Tuesday to promote inter-religious understanding. The two sides exchanged messages of peace in the main hall of worship and the evening was followed by a lavish spread of sumptuous vegetarian Iftar meal.
“I think it is a great way to have an open dialogue between people of two different faiths and practices,” said Surinder Singh Kandhari, Chairman, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara on the sidelines.
“Such visits help clear misunderstandings. The horizon is so big that it is a pleasure to learn from other religions, too. Sikhism as a religion glorifies tolerance, equality, service and humility, and Islam shares the same principles,” he said.
“We are grateful to His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to have granted us this piece of land for free and giving us the permission to build our holy place of worship and practice our religion freely.
“We are allowed to serve langar the whole day even during the holy month of Ramadan. This visit reciprocates the magnanimity that the ruler has shown towards other religions.”
In exchange of pleasantries, the gurudwara presented the delegation with Saropas, the highest honour accorded in a gurudwara.
“We took this initiative during the Dubai Peace Convention, which is a biennial event. We invite people from different faiths; we had a delegation from a church and temple. The idea is to spread the message of peace through dialogue. Our endeavour is to let people know the essence of Ramadan, why is it really special for Muslims,” said Abdul Hadi from Al Manar Islamic Centre.
Al Manar is a holy Quran learning and Dawah centre run under the patronage of Shaikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed. Last Friday, 150 Sikhs were invited to the Islamic Centre for an Iftar and discussions.
Article by Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli courtesy of Khaleej Times (23 June 2014)
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