Earlier today I gave my 35th "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester. As it was the date of the Muslim Jewish Forum's annual interfaith iftar, I wanted to mention that.
That led me into thinking about exactly why do we attend religious events organised by other faiths. 90 seconds was enough time to explain my answer.
This is the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. The meal when the fast ends is called an iftar. A wonderful trend in recent years is the number of iftars where Muslims invite guests of other faiths and none to join them. This evening is the Muslim Jewish Forum Interfaith Iftar which we have been running for several years.
Similarly, last month, I went to the Coptic Orthodox Church centre in Stevenage to attend a service officiated by His Holiness Pope Tawadros The Second.
That leads to the question: “Exactly why do we attend religious events organised by other faiths?”
Part of the answer may be that our religious beliefs overlap. Many of the things that Coptic Orthodox Christians believe are also things that I believe as a Muslim. For example, we both believe that God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and parted the Red Sea for Moses. We both believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, the virgin Mary.
However, our beliefs also differ. I believe that Jesus was a man, while Coptic Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus was divine.
Personally, I don’t think that shared beliefs are the main reason for attending events organised by other religions. I think it is something much more fundamental.
Attending other religions events is a way of showing respect for, and rejoicing in, our shared humanity.
By attending, you are giving out the following message: “I may not believe exactly what you believe. However, I am here because I respect you, and because I love you as a fellow human being.”