Iftar Dinner at Holy Trinity Cathederal - Auckland
Some twenty members of the Jama’at, including Lajna were invited to partake in an Iftar Dinner hosted by the iconic Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland on 3rd May 2021. Following their very successful Iftar dinner five years ago, the church organisers continued with the tradition of inviting various Muslim groups along with other range of faiths. This year some 45 guests were invited along with our Jama’at and with some members of Good Deed Muslim Women’s Group of Auckland.
The initial welcome was done by Rev Ivica Gregurec as the guests were seated in the large ornate and architecturally inspiring nave, the main central foyer of the Cathedral. Brother Ajaz Khan called the Azan to end the fast following which the guests moved to an adjacent dining hall for Iftar. Maulana Shafiq ur Rehman led the Maghrib prayers afterwards, joined by other Muslim guests as well. Guests were offered a delicious dinner before the formal welcome by The Very Reverend Anne Mills, Dean.
Addressing the audience at the main function, The Very Rev Anne Mills said, “When this Cathedral was built it was to be an ecumenical Cathedral of hospitality and hope for all peoples, especially the marginalized. In a time when the religions in general, do not often get a positive rap in the Media, initiative such as this is a worthy cause – not because we want to show off or just as a courteous mingling of diverse people, but because we want for all of us, a visible expression of God’s hospitality.
Hence, we are here to offer that hospitality to each other as we meet…. By gathering together and sharing food and your company we get to know each other so much more as real human beings. For Muslim friends we know these are not easy days for you, nor for your movement nor for the homeland of many of you.
Therefore, by showing hospitality we wish to stand with you and we to pray with you… wishing you best things especially in this holy month Ramadan when your thoughts and hearts turn to one of the most central pillars of your religion - fasting”
Mr Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner NZ as a guest speaker spoke on Human Rights and diversity of people in New Zealand. He said the habit of stereotyping people is out of the door. He said, ”We are all humans, all children of our mothers and we are all brothers and sisters living in one beautiful planet and we all have chosen to live in Aotearoa.”
Referring to the new settlers to New Zealand, he said, “I want to tell you that you have my back. I want you to grow in confidence. I want you to build on that confidence, be a great person and believe fully that you have every right to practice your religious beliefs, whatever beliefs you have, your skills, being yourself, as a group of people or as individuals right here, in Aotearoa. You have human rights.”
This was followed by Qur’an recitation by Anma Ibrahim, Hebrew scripture by Olga Bernstein of Beth Shalom Progressive Group and Christian scripture by Rev Diane Miller-Kealey of Anglican Diocese of Auckland.
The highlight of the evening was the keynote address given by Maulana Shafiq ur Rehman on Shakil Monir’s journey in translating the Holy Qur’an into Te Reo Maori.
Maulana Sahib began with Sura Fatiha in Te Reo Maori and thanked the organisers of the Cathedral for inviting Jama’at members and showing a true spirit of manaakitaga. He started with a short introduction of Islam. He said that revelation was a universal phenomenon and throughout the ages God has sent revelations to his chosen servants from all nations. As Muslims, we believe in the divine origin of all religions, not just the Abrahamic faiths and this one aspect binds together people of all faiths. The Qur’an, he said was a literal word of God revealed to the holy Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon), through Angel Gabriel and the text of which has been preserved as it was revealed.
Introducing the Jama’at, he said our Community is a revival group who have accepted Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian as the Promised Messiah. Our Jama’at exits in around 220 counties of the World spreading message of peace with its members numbering tens of millions, despite facing persecutions
in many countries. The Jama’at is strongly opposed to violence and terrorism of any form. One way of spreading the peaceful message of the holy Qur’an is to translate it into different languages. That brought him to the efforts of the late Shakil Monir. He said it was a long story of labour of love that took 25 years to complete. The initial responsibility to translate short verses of the holy Qur’an in Te Reo Maori for the 1989 Centenary Celebrations fell upon him as the President of Jama’at in Australia. He found it extremely hard to find a translator who could come up with a faithful translation as they lacked the knowledge and translated from Christian concepts introducing serious flaws. He took it upon himself to learn the language and translate himself. It took him 25 years to learn language he knew nothing about, nor were there many resources available at the time, other than an English to Maori dictionary, a Bible in Maori and a book of Maori phrases. He worked hard with amazing courage, conviction and determination whilst living in Australia, then in Nigeria, Pakistan and towards the latter part in New Zealand. Later when he had learnt enough to translate portions of the Qur’an, he found it equally frustrating to get it proof read in a timely manner by Maori translators. Finally, he managed to contact Professor Ray Harlow at Faculty of Maori Language at University of Waikato. He gave a favourable report on Shakil Monir’s translation. It was then that the fourth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, rahimullah, advised him to come to New Zealand to help him complete his task. He arrived in New Zealand in April 2002 lived here for 3 years until Dec 2005. The first half of Te Reo Maori translation was published in 2008 and the full book was published in 2013. The very first copy was presented to King Tuheitia Paki at Turangawaewae Marae by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, (May Allah be his helper).
This is a brief history of Shakil Monir’s struggles and achievement despite many challenges he faced during his long and inspiring journey to finally complete the translation of the Qur’an in Te Reo Maori, a much cherished gift to the nation. Towards the close of the programme, The Very Reverend Anne Wills presented Peace Candles to the representatives of the four groups invited to the function, as a token for them to continue their work of spreading peace around them. This was followed by National President Bashir Khan presenting a crystal bubblegram of 3D laser-etched image of Baitul Muqeet Mosque and a copy of Te Reo Maori Qur’an to the Cathedral.
Isha prayer was held at the Cathedral led my Maulana sahib before members left the Cathedral premises around 9 pm.
- - by Basharat A Khan
- in news, media-release