Parishioners of the Church of St Ignatius pose for a photo with Mr Haji Azman bin Kassim, Msgr Philip Heng and MP Christopher De Souza.

Twenty Catholics from the Church of St Ignatius, led by Msgr Philip Heng, joined Muslims in their Iftar (breaking of fast) at the Al-Huda Mosque on July 28.

This is the fourth time the parish has supported the annual Iftar which began in 2010.

The organisers are the Ulu Pandan Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) and the Al-Huda Mosque Management Board.

A total of about 50 people took part in the event, held at Jalan Haji Alias, which aimed to promote cordial relations among the various communities regardless of race or religion.

Participants also included members of the International Baptist Church, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Farrer-Holland Neighbourhood Committee, Ulu Pandan Community Club as well as residents from the vicinity.

Mr Haji Azman bin Kassim, chairman of the mosque and IRCC, stated in his opening address that racial and religious harmony must not be taken for granted.

He reminded all present that Singaporeans need to know their neighbours, culture and heritage, to “know the differences but also celebrate what we have in common”.

Guest-of-honour Christopher De Souza, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and adviser to Ulu Pandan IRCC/GROs (grassroots organisations), said teasingly that the Iftar is “not just that we eat the best briyani in Singapore but that we enjoy the friendship that a meal symbolises”.

Ustaz Haron Hasan Akhtar, who spoke on “Ramadan the Month of Courtesy”, explained that fasting is nothing if it does not transform a person to be a better person.

According to Prophet Muhammad, the best person is the one who benefits others the most. Fasting is what “makes us empathetic to those who do not have enough to eat”.

“When we do not share what we have, it would be taken away from us,” he said.

Participants later proceeded to remove their footwear, performed a symbolic ablution of washing their hands and joined in the fast breaking along a long hallway of the mosque.

There they dined on dates, briyani, curry chicken, mutton rendang and Malay desserts and chatted away in an atmosphere of harmony and solidarity.

By Gerald Kong