To demonstrate the spirit of tolerance and giving, a Sikh temple in Dubai gathered the Muslim community with different faiths over Iftar and Maghreb prayers on Wednesday.
The temple, Gurunanak Darbar Gurudwara, hosted about 120 residents of over 30 nationalities to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan and support the Muslim community in breaking their fast in a multicultural setting.
As the call to Maghreb prayers rang inside the temple, Muslims broke their fast over water, dates, Rooh Afza milkshake and Indian dishes of dal served with naan bread, paneer and biryani, followed by ras malai for dessert. Later, they offered their Maghreb prayers inside the temple, facing the Qibla direction, in Jebel Ali.
The gathering started with Abdul Hadi from Al-Manar Islamic Center reciting the Quran, and a brief address by Ahmed Hamid on the importance of fasting during Ramadan.
“The different faces that we have, the different colours and nationalities bring out on point of reflection: is that our maker is so powerful,” said Hamid as he explained the spiritual meaning of Ramadan to guests that included diplomats and dignitaries like Indian Consul General Vipul and Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Gurunanak Darbar, said the Iftar was to bring people together in the face of adversity. “In a world that struggles with extremism, the best way to cut it is through creating friendships among different faiths and nationalities and making the difference ourselves. It is only through communication that we can overcome adversities,” said Kandhari, noting that guests varied from Arabs, Ethiopians, and Mexicans to Americans and Serbians.
Al Sayegh, who served at the UAE Embassy in New Delhi in 1973, said the occasion goes beyond an Iftar to celebrating the tolerance and coexisting that UAE leadership has set the path for ever since the country’s formation. He added it also celebrates the Emirati-Indian relations that go back to centuries ago. “Historically, the Indian community with all its segments is the closest to Emiratis for we have been living together for centuries,” Al Sayegh said.
“We all worship God but it our different ways, and God has created us differently so we learn from one another, not fight one another,” said Al Sayegh, noting that the values of togetherness and tolerance that the Indian community practices are similar to that of UAE values. “The Indian community is part of our heritage as they worked with our ancestors from the beginning of the last century,” he said.
A regular to the temple, Mitchell Peeters from Belgium, said as a Christian, having Iftar in a Sikh temple makes the experience in UAE more special. “It is a nice experience to enjoy happiness and friendliness of people around you from different faiths and nationalities. It is part of the charm of living in Dubai and adjusting to the customs of the local people,” said Peeters, a UAE resident for four years.
Gurunanak Darbar, the largest Gurudwara of Gulf region, was declared open for over 50,000 devotees in UAE. For the Year of Giving, the temple held the Guinness World Record for serving free continental breakfast titled “Breakfast for Diversity” to the maximum number of people from diverse nationalities.
On a regular basis, the gurudwara serves free meals every day to visitors and distributes food packs to labour camps every weekend.