Toronto Mosque Holds All-Inclusive Iftar, Invites Members of LGBT Community to Celebrate Ramadan

Before the Orlando attack, Toronto's Muslim and LGBT communities shared a meal.

ByABC News
June 14, 2016, 10:55 AM

— -- The night before a troubled Florida man pledged allegiance to ISIS and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, members of the LGBT community and Muslims broke bread together to celebrate Ramadan at a Mosque in Toronto.

Toronto Unity Mosque held its 14th annual all-inclusive iftar, or breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, on Friday, inviting all members of the community to share a meal and celebrate.

The iftar welcomed all, “regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, disability, or other status,” according to the Facebook invite.

Just under 200 people showed up, with more than a third of them not identifying as Muslim, event organizer and founder of Toronto Unity Mosque El-Farouk Khaki told ABC News.

“The idea was to break bread together and to meet your neighbors,” Khaki said. “The Peace Iftar is something we have been doing since 2003, I was inspired to create this event after being invited to a Passover seder by a Lesbian Jewish couple."

In the wake of the attack in Orlando, some have tried to pit the Muslim and LGBT communities against each other, but Khaki calls for unity.

“No community is a monolith, there is no such thing as the LGBTI community or the Muslim community, we have communities within communities within communities," Khaki said, referring to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

In addition to the Iftar, the Toronto Unity Mosque regularly keeps its doors open as a safe space for all.

“The mosque comes out of a visioning of Islam as an egalitarian space, where everyone has access to God," Khaki explained, noting how this month was special for both Muslims and people who identify as LGBTI.

“Many LGBTI communities are going into pride celebrations, and they are trying to find community and safety,” Khaki said, noting that Muslims are observing Ramadan.

The events over this weekend in Orlando deeply affected both communities, Khaki said. “Both of these communities have been shattered here. So many people in the Muslim community are fearful of a backlash.”

Khaki hopes that his Mosque and the work he does can create a place for people from all backgrounds to come together.

"The way I envision the work that I do is to create a faith-based place where people can heal."