Cairo – There are no provisions in the Koran and in the Sunnah that prohibit Muslims from sharing the evening meal of “breaking the fast” (Al-Fitr) with Christian friends, relatives or acquaintances during the Muslim month of fasting Ramadan. This is what is reported by Sheikh Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, current Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and finds space in the Egyptian media just as all the Islamic communities in the world are preparing to celebrate Eid al Fitr, the feast that concludes the holy month dedicated to fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Accepting food from one’s fellow Christians and sharing dinner with them, after the fast observed from dawn to dusk – said the Grand Mufti during an interview broadcast on satellite channel Sada Elbalad, in the program conducted by the journalist Hamdi Rizk – is in no way a violation of Islamic law, but rather an expression of the respect and merciful kindness towards one’s neighbor that the Koran recommends”. “This benevolence and this respect”, according to Sheikh Shawki Allam, “is not reserved exclusively for the members of the Islamic Umma, but also shapes the attitude which the devout Muslim should meet with everyone he meets in life if he wants to act in accordance with the Koran”.
In recent decades, campaigns in several Arab countries have regularly opposed the exchange of congratulations and greetings between Christians and Muslims on religious festivals celebrated by their respective faith communities. In January 2016 (see Fides, 11/12/2016), the imam of a mosque in the Egyptian city of Damietta issued a fatwa prohibiting greetings and congratulations to Christians on the occasion of Christmas. Precisely for this initiative, the imam himself had been subjected to an investigation by the Awaqf, the Ministry for Religious Endowments which also has monitoring functions on the activities carried out in mosques.
In December 2020 (see Fides, 21/12/2020), the provision with which a department of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the Gaza Strip, governed by the Palestinian Islamist party Hamas, ordered Muslims to limit their “interaction” with Christian Christmas celebrations. In recent days, meanwhile, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II has conveyed good wishes for the upcoming Eid al Fitr to both Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and Al Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb.