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15 faiths represented at interfaith gathering

The event drew about 125 to Sharon’s Community Center.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Boston

The event drew about 125 to Sharon’s Community Center.

SHARON — About 125 public officials, civic and religious leaders, and area residents gathered at the Sharon Community Center recently as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Boston held its third annual Interfaith Iftar Dinner to celebrate the start of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.

According to Masroor Sajid, the group’s media relations volunteer, the July 11 dinner drew guests representing 15 religions. “It is a way of bringing all faiths under one roof,” he said, adding that the number attending has grown each year.

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Guest speakers included Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz and state Senator Brian Joyce. Religious leaders such as Farhad Panthaki of the Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area also gave brief addresses.

At sunset, Muslims broke their daily Ramadan fast with juices and dates, and heeded the adhan call to prayer before sitting down to dinner.

For Ahmadis, a relatively small group within Islam, charity work and civic engagement are central components of a faithful life. Since 2011, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has held annual blood drives under the banner “Muslims for Life” as a way to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and more recently the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

“The campaign shows that, as Muslims, we are loyal to the country we reside in,” Dr. Amer Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, told guests. “This is a tenet of Islam.”

One of the guests was Tahir Ahmed, a third-year student at Harvard Medical School, who said he has been active with the Ahmadiyya community all of his life. Until recently he worked as the group’s regional youth coordinator, he said, only stepping back as his studies became more time-consuming.

‘This is one of our beliefs. To be a good Muslim, you have to accept all religions.’

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“There is always a disconnect between the life you live and this whole thing called faith,” said Ahmed.

“As an Ahmadiyya Muslim, something I find very nice about our community is that we try to meld those two worlds. A lot of times they’re two different boxes and they’re never brought together.

“It’s remarkable that at a Muslim event you have so many faiths represented,” Ahmed said of the annual dinner. “This is one of our beliefs. To be a good Muslim, you have to accept all religions.”

William Holt can be reached at william.holt@globe.com.
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