Quran graces the altar at St Patrick’s cathedral in Pune
The St Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest parish of Catholics in the city and home to the Bishop of Pune, Rt Rev Fr Thomas Dabre’s residential and office quarters, opened its doors to host an iftar (break of fast) for Muslims on Monday, June 3.
Karimuddin Shaikh, head of Jamat-e-Islami Hind Pune unit said, “It was a unique experience. We had an iftar party in St Patrick’s church. The event was mesmerising and we saw almost 150 people of different faiths present.”
“We also arranged a lecture and a talk on the holy month of Ramzan and the importance of fasting for Muslims, which was very well received,” said Shaikh.
The two communities, Muslim and Christian, aimed at promoting peace and inclusiveness through the event. Bishop Thomas Dabre said, “This is the first time that such an event was organised at the mother church of Pune city. I have always spoken about inter-religious dialogues to maintain peace and harmony and developing bonds with people of other communities which is very important for the world to exist peacefully.”
“We not only were educated about what Ramzan is, but the Muslim brothers also spoke about Jesus Christ and read some excerpts in Arabic from the holy book of the Muslims. Post that, we also ate at the iftar,” Bishop Dabre added.
“Usually, addressing the Prophet as Isa and not Jesus in front of Christians is not taken very well, but we did not experience anything of that sort at the Church. In fact, our talk was received well and there was a discussion as well. We even recited a prayer from our Holy book, the Quran which mentions Prophet Isa in its aayat (verse). Not only this, but the prayer was recited by us in Arabic and that too in a church,” Shaikh said.
Dr Sameer Tamboli who attended the event said, “It was a very different experience. I felt welcomed in a church.
“It was an eye opener for me where I saw that people are so warm and loving. We exchanged views, post the event, on similarities between both communities.”
Rocky Gomes, a St Patrick’s parishoner who was also present at the event, said it was like “an eighth wonder”.
“We have never had an iftar or a Muslim in this church ever. Listening to them and knowing about Islam was amazing,” Gomes said.