A Grand Interfaith Iftar took place in Los Angeles
On April 28, 2022, the Los Angeles Consular Corps held its first-ever Ramadan Interfaith Iftar bringing together Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Baháʼí, and Zoroastrian faith leaders of Los Angeles. Jointly sponsored by the Consulates of Azerbaijan, Turkey & Israel, the Iftar was hosted at the Turkish Consul General’s residence.
Mr. Homi Gandhi past president of FEZANA and Ervad Zarrir Bhandara represented the Zoroastrian faith at the Interfaith/Multicultural Iftar event hosted by the Azerbaijan Consulate at the Turkish consulate general’s residence.
Los Angeles faith leaders came together at the invitation of the Consulate General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev to share their perspective on the eve of Iftar on communal peace and harmony on Thursday, April 28th. A well-attended event dedicated to the traditions of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance in Azerbaijan.
The event was attended by consuls general and honorary consuls of various countries including Turkey, Iran, and Israel, faith leaders representing many different religions, including Bahism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, the top brass of LAPD, LA Sheriff’s department, journalists, members of various communities, representatives of art, culture, science, and education, and others.
Opening the event, the Consul General of Azerbaijan Los Angeles and Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps Nasimi Aghayev thanked the Turkish Consul general Sinam Kuzum for hosting this momentous celebration of multiculturalism, which, he said, was indicative of unity in diversity and a strong commitment to multi-faith and multicultural tolerance and harmony.
Islam was represented by Dr. Mozambi Siddique, who emphasized the importance of fasting, saying “fasting teaches self-discipline, gratitude generosity, and charity, fasting is associated with the divine message which is done during the 9th month of Islamic Lunar calendar”.
Rabbi David Wolfer represented the Jewish faith and spoke about Yom HaShoah, also known as Yom Hashoah VeHagevurah, which literally means the “day of remembrance of the Catastrophe and the Heroism remembering the massacre of millions of Jews.”
Father of Archdioceses of Los Angeles representing Christianity compared people of different faiths to traveling companions, we are all children of the same God.
The Zoroastrian representative Ervad Zarrir Bhandara stole the limelight with his following powerful speech, where he received thunderous applause from the gathering I bring you the greetings of peace and unity from one of the oldest revealed religions of the world- Zoroastrianism.
“I thank the organizers’ honorable Consul general of Azarbaijan Mr. Nasimi Aghayev and Turkish Consul general Sinam Kuzum for this iftar, interfaith meeting.
Well-known Zoroastrians mentioned in the holy Quran and holy Bible are Dastur Diniyar, – Salman-e-Fars, as the most revered companion of prophet Mohammad – may be peace upon him (holy Quran chapter 16- paragraph 105).
The Messiah or the Savior mentioned in the old testament- Zoroastrian king Cyrus- helped our Jewish community to rebuild their temples, in Jerusalem in 538 B.C. and also gave them the freedom to practice their own religion.
As many of our forefathers have demonstrated. Peace begins with a loving understanding of ourselves and other human beings, human doings, and all living beings including plants, animals, and all-natural resources.
Energy flows, where the attention goes. So, it is important to be conscious about what we think, speak, and do. Our individual actions affect us and affect the whole universe. That is why one of the main tenants of our religion includes Good thoughts, words, and deeds.
God can be seen and revealed in many different ways, which is why we have different religions. Yet, we connect to fundamentally one supreme principle the infinitude of the divine reality. We believe that the religion we all have taken birth in is THE path God has prescribed for an individual to attain our purest light and progress physically and spiritually.
We have different religions/different paths, but one goal. We are diverse, yet we need to be united. Just like in nature, everything is diverse yet works in synchronization.
Even within our religions, we have different beliefs, but we do not allow our differences to divide us, but to unify and strengthen us. Live and let live. Thereby, we will bring more peace, unity, harmony, love, and healing to the world. We can spread peace, maintaining our own individuality in the ocean of humanity. I would like to conclude my talk by urging the clergies and community leaders to interpret the scriptures to bring about more peace, harmony, unity, and love in the world, and further he said that during interfaith meetings, we talk and talk, and now it’s high time we take action and make our talk walk’’.
Consul general Aghayev highlighted the ancient traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism in Azerbaijan noting that these traditions have already been raised to the level of state policy in the country. The diplomat said that Shia and Sunni Muslims pray in the same mosque and people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and representatives of other faiths have been living together in peace, brotherhood, and mutual respect for many centuries in Azerbaijan. The Consul General noted that President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly said that “multiculturalism is a lifestyle in Azerbaijan”. “We all see and cherish diversity as a virtue that strengthens us and makes our world a better place,” said Consul General Aghayev, in his concluding remarks.