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493. You Are Invited to a Dinner Hosted by a Muslim Family 2014

Talip and Vesile . Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy

Talip and Vesile . Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy

Ramadan is the holiest time of the year for Muslims around the world, and for them it is the month of sharing. Every year Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA facilitates family iftar (fast-breaking) dinners for those who wish to experience an iftar meal at the home of a Muslim family, and make new friends.

This year Ramadan will begin on June 28th and will continue until July 27th. If you and your family members would like to attend such a dinner, please register yourself at http://www.meetyourneighbour.ca\ indicating your preferred location and date(s). ICD will do its best to find a host family closest to your location.

Please note that sunset (time for breaking the fast) will be sometime between 8:45pm and 9:05pm. You will be asked to arrive for the dinner sometime after 8pm.

Kind regards, IDI GTA

Ruth writes: A couple years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a home-cooked dinner at a Muslim home in Toronto arranged by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute. We are not Muslim. It was an opportunity to be in a Muslim home here and to have frank conversations in a relaxed informal setting. It was a very pleasant evening.
I must also say the food was better than any Turkish meal I’ve had in a Turkish restaurant in Toronto and we are fond of Turkish food.

While researching my blogs, I meet many Toronto Muslims. While I’ve been invited to eat in Muslim homes outside of Canada – in Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, and China– up to then, I had never been invited to dinner in a Muslim home in Toronto. This is a pity as sitting down to a meal together in a home contributes to a feeling of community and deeper friendships.
Our conversation that evening centred around the lives of the family and my questions about Islam. But you don’t have to talk about religious subjects if you don’t want to. You can talk about soccer or hockey, their country of origin, or whatever.

As you probably know, during the month of Ramadan, strict Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to dusk. They also abstain from a long list of other practices. Among other reasons, this is to learn self-restraint, to seek nearness to God, and to share with others.

You don’t have to return the hospitality but it would be nice. We tried to do this last year. It was not easy trying to offer a Halal meal, especially when the wife said she did not like food that was foreign to her. We ended up serving take-out from Anatolia in Etobicoke, a restaurant that is near our home. We had other friends join us. We asked our Muslim guests if they minded if others in the party drank wine and they said it was not a problem.

Halal Festival 2014. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy

Halal Festival 2014. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy

Since then, I heard a lecturer at one Halal Festival suggest that some Muslims might be forgiven if they wanted to be polite and eat other than Halal food when invited out to dinner. I am sure this depends on individual choice. I am aware that not all Muslims follow Halal food rules and some do drink alcohol. Halal applies mainly to meat and dairy products. Asking prospective Muslim guests about food restrictions is in order, just as you would ask any other friend about eating vegetarian or vegan. The next time I invite Muslims to dinner, I will involve them in planning the meal.

If you haven’t eaten with a Muslim family in Toronto, I hope you too will take advantage of ICD’s invitation. Our Blog about our memorable dinner is at:
https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2012/06/07/273-intercultural-home-visiting-in-multicultural-toronto/.  Please let us know about your adventures.

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