Friday is the 17th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, an event of daytime fasting from food and water and an evening breaking of the fast with a fig and a full meal. Thursday night, local Islamic groups celebrated the connection of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the annual Tent of Abraham.
Representatives of what are called the Abrahamic faiths met for a post-sunset dinner at the Islamic Center in Amherst to talk about the similarities in the messages preached by the three religions who meet under the Tent of Abraham, symbolic of the tent in which Abraham spent much time with family. The dinner also raised money and donations for an array of local charities.
Fr. John-Paul Boyer, bishop's theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, explained the ancient connections of the three faiths.
"All of the three great monotheisms, in historical order, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, we all trace our roots back to Abraham, the first of the patriarchs, whom God called out of Mesopotamia into what is now the land of Israel," Boyer said.
At sunset, Muslims participating in the event moved to recite the early evening prayer before returning to break their fasts. Imam Khalil said a standard question is why Muslims give up food and water during the days of Ramadan.
"The point of Islam and the injunction of Islam is the idea of surrendering a person himself to God Almighty," Khalil said, "and this level of submission is found in fasting, when you are hungry and thirsty, if you leave that aside because you have submitted to God already."
While the details of what happened in Abraham's tent vary by religion, it is always a story of him greeting travelers in Mamre and offering them food and hospitality. It is a message passed down the centuries.
"Goes back to the Old Testament," said North Presbyterian Church Pastor Bill Hennessy, "to the Jewish scripture where Abraham is at his tent at the Oaks of Mamre and he is visited by three visitors and he shows him hospitality and the Tent of Abraham is a, I guess, a way of expressing that hospitality."