What happens when women from different religious traditions meet up?
It was after Mass one Sunday in April that a friend of ours told us with a smile that he and his wife were going to have a blind date that evening. We looked at him, puzzled. A blind date? Then he explained that they had subscribed to “My Ramadan,” a matchmaking program organized by Dialogue Forum, an association of Muslims promoting peaceful co-existence with people of other confessions. In “My Ramadan,” Muslims could invite non-Muslim people whom they do not know to their homes to share Iftar with them (Iftar is the meal in the evening when they break their fast.) The matchmakers would make it possible for those interested in being invited to come to a place not too far away.
That sounded interesting to us! That same week we had participated in “Ramadan Evening,” a yearly event organized by a local Lutheran church in cooperation with Dialogue Form. In this event people from the neighborhood and others (Muslim and non-Muslim) come together in a tent in front of the church, and while they wait for others to arrive to break the fast, they are entertained with music and poetry, and invited to share with the people at their table on some topics concerning religion. Then someone chants the Muslim call to prayer, and after the Our Father is prayed, the food is served for all. It is a beautiful occasion for sharing and meeting people you don’t know, who come from many corners of the world.
The matchmaking program our friend told us about goes a step further, though, giving people the chance to open up their homes and hearts and share in a more personal way. We hurried to subscribe to the program, since Ramadan was ending soon. A few days later we got a phone call from a lady of Turkish background, inviting us over to her place for Iftar and inquiring about any food intolerances we might have. That Saturday evening, we cycled to the inner city, where she lives with her husband. He had left for the occasion, knowing that the rest of us would be only women—our host had also invited her mum and a younger cousin. But it was he who had prepared most of the lovely dishes she served us!
We spent a beautiful evening with them. All three of them are very committed Muslims. We shared about our faith, prayer life, and the challenges of living in our society. And we also shared about the Muslim movement they are part of, which is very persecuted at the moment in Türkiye, and about the consequences that has for them.
When we left at about 11 pm we promised to invite them over for dinner at a later date. We did so on the Monday after Pentecost. They brought along another cousin who was curious to meet us. They told us that it was in fact the first time that they had sat around a table with people able to answer their questions about the meaning of Christian holidays. Once again, we spent a lovely evening together, meeting as believers rooted in our faith and involved in our society.
We are very grateful for having met them, and are impressed by their perseverance in all the hardships they have gone through, and by their openness and respect for others.
L.srs. Anna Stefanie, Agnès-Ghislaine, Els, and Johanne-Marie
Community of Copenhagen (Denmark)