Interfaith iftar, 5K run build bonds in Metro Detroit

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Throughout the holy month of Ramadan, Metro Detroit Muslims often break their daily fasts with iftars, or communal meals that friends, neighbors and others are invited to join. 

On Wednesday evening, the more than 200 guests who filled the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills illustrated the welcoming spirit tied to that longstanding tradition: dozens of locals from diverse religious backgrounds, sharing food, prayer and dialogue.

Dozens gathered for an interfaith iftar Wednesday night at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills.


Led by the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, JCRC/AJC and Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, the second annual interfaith iftar at the Oakland County mosque aims to foster bonds at a time when religious and social divides linger.

“It’s those grassroots relationships that make you stronger,” said Sumaiya Ahmed Sheikh, the Michigan Muslim Community Council’s executive director. “It’s important that kids and adults come together. At the end of the day, we’re all in America.”

The gathering plays off local efforts to connect area Jews and Muslims

Participants dined on kosher and vegetarian entrees; heard recitations from the Quran, the holy Muslim text; learned about Ramadan fasting; and discussed issues with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

The sisterhood’s local chapters follow its mission of linking Muslim and Jewish women.

“It feels like a way to build friendships with people of different backgrounds and life phases, but I also joined the group in the wake of the Trump presidency and the general feeling of helplessness in our country,” said Kate Kurzmann of Royal Oak, who is active in a local chapter and will attend the iftar Wednesday. “We’re building bridges that will hopefully strengthen us.”

In another Ramadan-related event, more than 100 people are expected to join the Fasting 5K run/walk Saturday at the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton Township. It’s the fourth year Metro Detroiters are joining in the multi-city effort to support local and international charities during the holy month.

Participants will raise money for OBAT Helpers, a nonprofit working to aid Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and B.L.O.C.K. Youth & Teen Center, a Canton Township site offering after-school programs and youth activities.

"We are grateful that Fasting5K participants are choosing to hold this fundraising event after observing a long day of abstaining from food and water during the holy month of Ramadan," said Laura Mortier, a recreation specialist in the township. "This shows just how dedicated they are to making a difference in our community.”

Helping groups dedicated to children can have far-reaching impact, said Jabeen Siddiqui Hamzavi, a Fasting 5K coordinator. 

“Safe, stable and nurturing environments are critical for young children," she said. "Whether it is in a suburb in Michigan, or a refugee camp in Bangladesh, all children are entitled to these fundamentals in order to thrive physically and emotionally. Participating in Fasting 5K is unique way for communities to join together to raise money for charities that support youth safety in their community and abroad.”