“I have been fortunate to attend so many iftar events this month that I have lost the count, and I consider it a big blessing for me- also that I had the opportunity to host an iftar for the community along with my parliamentary colleagues,” said Michael Wood in an exclusive interview with The Indian Weekender at his community Iftar dinner event last weekend.

The theme of the Iftar-dinner ‘Aroha & As-Salaam- Moving Forward Together’ echoed the sentiments of leaders of different faiths to come forward and share their views of social and cultural cohesion between the Muslim and other faiths.

Present at the event were Labour List MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan, MP for New Lynn Deborah Russel, NZ Police District Commander Karyn Malthus, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo and Jessica Phuang representing New Zealand Police, Puketapapa Local Board member Shail Kausha, Jeet Suchdev from Bhartiya Samaj and representatives from the Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Jewish faiths.

The iftar event on Sunday, May 26 at Western Springs Community Centre pondered upon the significance of Aroha and Islamic greeting As-salaam that translates to love and peace for all.

The speakers narrated verse from their holy books and mentioned how the communities have to come together and move forward increasing acceptance amongst one another, understanding between the teachings of their religions, promote inter-faith dialogues and find similarities in the values every faith teach.

“Ramadan is one of the most important times on the Islamic calendar, a time of spiritual reflection, fasting, and care for those less fortunate. The Iftar meal, which breaks the fast at the end of each day is a special time for people to come together to share food and conversation. In New Zealand, Iftar meals are also increasingly an important time for inter-faith dialogue and the Muslim community to share in their traditions and beliefs,” Michael Wood said.

The iftar event had separate arrangements made for the men and the women prayers after the iftar followed by dinner sponsored by Paradise Restaurant and WISE- a community organisation.