Chicago community’s spirited interfaith crusader Iftekhar Shareef in partnership with entrepreneur Aftab Baig hosted a grand Iftar Banquet – this splendid interfaith celebration was marked by the convergence of people of all faiths joining the Chicago’s Muslim community in celebrating one of their most momentous pre-festival Ramadan at the Monty’s Banquet in Elmhurst, Illinois on April 16, 2023. This grand Iftar Banquet was hosted traditionally in its march towards a grand festival celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Taking to the podium, Iftekhar Shareef welcomed the gathering of guests of all faiths and outlined the significance of interfaith Iftar celebration which he added seeks to foster a sense of unity and build bridges of friendship and unity with all communities of faith and work together to make our communities, our society, our nation and indeed our world a better place. Iftekhar Shareef said it is my humble aspiration to promote interfaith camaraderie that offers an opportunity for greater understanding of what Ramadan truly represents and ways to promote and strengthen interfaith harmony. Iftekhar Shareef said based on our religious tenants, I feel so grateful and honored to host this interfaith banquet to celebrate friendship, unity, brotherhood and deepen the engagement of interfaith appreciation.
Chief Guest United States Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi in his remarks extolled the virtuous interfaith celebration in observance of Ramadan and said the presence of Hindus, Christians and other faiths present at the celebration is a shining testament to the diversity of the community coming together with the shared interest to celebrate and complement each other’s faith.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said Ramadan is a time when people of all faiths come together in unity to strengthen the bonds of friendship and unite in their efforts to deepen greater understanding among diverse faiths. Congressman Iftkehar Shareef and Aftab Baig for taking the lead on hosting a grand interfaith banquet with the purpose of bringing people of all faiths together to celebrate oneness, goodwill and unity. Following Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s remarks, host Iftekhar Shareef fed him with a date a tradition commemorating the breaking of fast and honored him with a shawl and flower bouquet to showcase appreciation for his presence.
Azam Nizamuddin, a leading lawyer who promotes interfaith worldwide, spoke of the importance of interfaith events and brotherhood amongst communities. Dr Sabeel Ahmed of Gain Peace foundation also spoke of the importance of hosting this kind of interfaith events .
In the gracious spirit and tradition of Ramadan, Iftekhar Shareef honored several leading elected officials and community’s prominent leaders including Oakbrook Mayor Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, Lincolnwood Mayor Jesal Patel, Raes Yawar, VP Board of Commissioners of Streamwood Park District, Dr. Hanumanth Reddy, American Telugu Association Founder, Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Ajeet Singh, Sohan Joshi , Dr Tajjamul Hussain a leading oncologist who also spoke about interfaith.
Community’s leading stalwart Mr. Niranjan Shah was the honored guest who took to the podium paying glowing admiration to Iftkehar Shareef for taking the lead in hosting Iftar celebration, and said that the spirit of interfaith harmony must continue to work towards deepening our interpersonal relations. He was joined by his wife Pratima Shah. Mrs. Raes Yawar, VP Board of Commissioners for Streamwood Park District said Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection and devotion; while Keerthi Kumar Ravoori described Iftekhar Shareef is an interfaith champion who is relentless in his pursuit of fostering peace, love and goodwill among people of all faiths.
Earlier, precisely at 6:34 pm, after the call to prayer, the fasting members of the Muslim community broke their fast by eating dates. Following the initial breaking of the fast, they went into the prayer hall to offer post-fasting prayer before the formal celebration began. The religious significance of Ramadan was explained as to how fasting serves a variety of spiritually and socially based purposes including the human frailty and greater reliance on God for sustenance; to show hunger and thirst to enable compassion for the poor and the responsibility to support them and to rebuild relations with God through prayer and abstinence.
Some of the prominent community guests include Bhailal Patel, Rakesh Malhotra, Altaf Bukhari, Sainath Reddy Boyapalli, Mir Khan (ZIa) , Dr Muzzafar Mirza a leading Dentist , Dr Imaad Sheikh , Kishore Padma Mehta, Abdul Siddiqui, Rajani Akurati, Syed Khurram, Bhanu Swargam, Falguni Rana, Veteran Chris Chrilstian, AR Saleem , Samiuddin Khaja and many more. The evening celebration of Interfaith Iftar featured a lavish expansive dinner spread and the guests savored its finest traditional cuisine specially created by Co-Host Aftab Baig.