MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Leaders from different religious communities around Memphis gathered together to break bread and create more unity in and around the city.
The different faiths of Memphis who preach unity in the community acted on those words Sunday night for the 12th annual Memphis Interfaith Dinner hosted by the local Muslim community.
"One of the reasons we did this is the rising sentiments of religious bigotry that we were noticing, especially after the horrific events of 9/11. All of our faith communities need to understand we share much more in common than the differences we have," Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, resident scholar of Memphis Islamic Center, said.
Leaders of religion and politics as well were in attendance, including Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
Every year the dinner is held during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The event started with a reading from the Holy Qur'an.
"Ramadan for Muslims is the holy month. It is the month we abstain from food and drink, where we're extra generous, where we're supposed to give up our charity, where we display the spirit of our religion," Qadhi said.
During the event, people of all races and faiths come together. It's about learning, building relationships and laughing together.
"And if we just come together and literally break bread together, just crack some jokes together, we can humanize one another, we can see that there's nothing to fear," Qadhi said.
"To see a sold out, packed place with people from different faiths talking in line is a very positive sign. We need more of this, not only in Memphis but in our country, in our world," Temple Israel Rabbi Micah Greenstein said.
The keynote speakers reminded the crowd to think critically---opening everyone's mind to accepting their neighbors without fear.
"How shall we negotiate relationships when we are afraid?" Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart, of Christ Missionary Baptist Church, said.
"Get to know the other. Don't build these walls of hatred and fear and stereotypes without even getting to know mosques, temples, churches, synagogues--don't build your perceptions of them from outside," Qadhi said.