Friday, June 10, 2016

Under a Ramadan Moon

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began this past Monday. It wasn't that long ago that Canadians, including Canuck Christians didn't know boo about Ramadan. Now we might have a neighbour or co-worker who is quietly observing through the month. Others are making the effort to educate and learn publically.

In Toronto there is a program called "Meet Your Neighbour" in which Muslim families across the city welcome non-Muslim neighbours to their dinner tables.  In Montreal, downtown St. James United Church held an interfaith event at sundown which included music and communal prayer, and Muslim  participants broke their daily fast. Rev. Arlen Bonnar said the interfaith iftar (an evening meal Muslims eat after their daily fast) was a bridge-building event to show the solidarity of the diverse communities in Montreal.

Ramadan isn't just about fasting from food in the period between dawn and dusk. It is also a time to abstain from negative passions -- road rage perhaps? Charity and generosity are also important aspects of Ramadan.

I like the fact that Ramadan is connected to the lunar cycle, which gives us a common thread between the three great monotheistic religions. Our greatest Christian festival is Easter, which is on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (got that?) Passover is also lunar dependent, which is why Pesach and Holy Week often coincide. These three religions are very different, and we need to understand both how and why. Yet it is wonderful when we find commonalities. Always, we can be respectful and open to learning from others.

Watch this sweet little musical video called Ramadan Moon by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens)

Do you know anyone who observes Ramadan? Do you wish you knew more about the observances of other religions?


Judy said...

When I picked up Maysoun from her ESL class yesterday, she reminded me that she was observing Ramadan; I wished her "Ramadan Mubarak" and I asked if she was allowed a drink of water during the day, and she said "Nothing to eat or drink til 9 pm ...." That takes strong dedication and discipline. We could stand to learn more about the practices of people of other faiths, and hear from them how it benefits them. Then come back to look at our own traditions (in the United Church we don't seem to fast for any reason - we march along on our stomachs and have all kinds of food - related events, sometimes to the point where the food and how it is presented is more important than any spiritual practice) We could also learn few things from atheists at times, and listen to their reasons why they reject our God, and church, and all formal religions. I just came across a web site of a minister in a community church in Raleigh , NC, and he has some thought provoking things to say to churches today about things we take for granted in our Christian faith and the ways we speak it.... will post it when I get back to it and find the URL address for you....

Judy said...

The web site, as promised...

David Mundy said...

Thanks Judy. I have blogged about fasting several times through the years and people never respond. You are correct in observing that we are much happier stuffing our faces than abstaining from food.

To clarify for folk, Maysoun is the mother in the Syrian family sponsored by United Church congregations in Belleville. I wonder if the oldest of the three boys is fasting in some form this year? Children are not expected to fast, but teens ease into this spiritual discipline over time.

roger said...

I have been intrigued by Islam for some time now, and am fortunate that one of my colleagues and friends is a Muslim. He is very knowledgeable about the religion and has shared a lot of that knowledge with me.

My colleague and I will be attending an Iftar dinner tonight at a community function put on by an organization with which my we have done much work. We will be attending another one in a couple of weeks organized by the much-respected and well-known Iman Dr. Hamid Slimi. Dr. Slimi can be credited with putting out to the public and media an excellent counter-narrative to combat the inevitable increase in islamophobia that happens after recent terrorist attacks. I would count Dr. Slimi as one of the most inspiring and intelligent people I have ever met.

One of my highlights at last year's Ramadan was attending a family dinner in Scarborough. There were a few of us "guests" and the conversation with the family, not to mention the food, was excellent. These folks were wonderful and it's a reminder that the vast, vast majority of Muslims are decent people who abhor what Daesh is doing and that their religion is essentially being hijacked and twisted by these evil thugs.

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