Councilman Pious Ali, Councilwoman Deqa Dhalac, Cape Elizabeth School Board member Nasir Shir, The Muslim Community Of Greater Portland, and Gateway Community Services presented Portland’s first community Iftar dinner June 1 at Gateway Community Services. The dinner welcomed muslims and non-muslims alike and featured “food, faith, and culture,” in the words of Abdullahi Ali, Director of Gateway Community Services. The evening was well-attended and convivial and featured presentations about Ramadan and Islam, as well as a bountiful buffet dinner.
Ekhlas Ismail Ahmed opened the evening with fond reminiscences of observing Ramadan in her childhood home in Sudan. She talked about the joyous preparation of food by the women and girls in anticipation of the breaking of the fast.
The Director of the Maine Muslim Community Center read two verses from the second chapter of the Qur’an and spoke of Ramadan as “a challenge of faith” and “a chance to switch and reset, and practice self-control.”
Reza Jalali spoke about the changing, increasingly diverse face of Maine, and took the audience back to the Maine of 100 years ago, when the KKK, and the Know-Nothing party dominated Maine’s cultural scene. He noted that such an inclusive Iftar dinner would have been impossible in earlier days in Maine, and noted that the event was proof that Maine has made progress in welcoming diversity.
Mayor Strimling talked about the benefits that diversity brings to Maine and voiced appreciation for the different communities gathered harmoniously together at the Iftar Community dinner at Gateway Community Services.
The main sponsors of the evening were cPort Credit Union, Infinity Credit Union, and Gateway Community Services. Numerous volunteers played a key role.