What is Eid al-Fitr? Here’s what you need to know about the Muslim holiday.

This year Eid al-Fitr starts on May 1 or May 2, depending on the lunar calendar. 

The start of the holiday is timed to the first sighting of the crescent moon marking the beginning of the Islamic month of Shawwal.  

Some countries, such as Turkey, rely on technology to see the crescent moon. Others, still follow the tradition of sticking to bare eyes to see the moon’s shape. 

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated to commemorate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and takes place over three days. Eid al-Fitr means “the celebration of breaking the fast.” 

Ramadan marks the time when the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Devout Muslims fast during daylight hours and spend time in self-reflection, prayer and giving charity. 

There are two Eids celebrated in the year: Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. 

Eid al-Adha, or “feast of the sacrifice,” celebrated this year from July 9-10, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son to Allah. In Christianity and Judaism, this is told as the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. 


Israeli restrictions on ‘Holy Fire’ ignite Christian outrage

JERUSALEM — Christians celebrated their “Holy Fire” ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Saturday against a backdrop of rising tensions with Israel, which imposed new restrictions on attendance this year that it said were needed for safety.

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Israel says it wants to prevent another disaster after a crowd stampede at a packed Jewish holy site last year left 45 people dead. Christian leaders say there’s no need to alter a ceremony that has been held for centuries.

In the dense confines of Jerusalem’s Old City, where Jews, Christians and Muslims must share their holiest sites — no matter how reluctantly — even small changes can cause prophetic angst.

The city has already seen a week of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. It stands on a hilltop that is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.


This year major Jewish, Christian and Muslim holidays have converged against a backdrop of renewed Israeli-Palestinian violence. Tensions have soared as tens of thousands of people flock to Jerusalem’s Old City to visit some of the holiest sites for all three faiths for the first time since the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that on the Saturday before Easter a miraculous flame appears inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a sprawling 12th century basilica built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

On Saturday, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III entered the Holy Edicule, a chamber built on the traditional site of the tomb, and returned with two lit candles, passing the flame among thousands of people holding candles, gradually illuminating the walls of the darkened basilica. The flame will be transferred to Orthodox communities in other countries on special flights.


Christians and Muslims: Sharing Joys and Sorrows


Message for the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr 

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, 

As all of us know, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has taken away the lives of millions of persons around the world, including members of our families. Others fell sick and were healed, yet they experienced much long-lasting pain and suffering from the consequences of the virus. As you celebrate the month of Ramadan that concludes with Eid al-Fitrour thoughts turn in gratitude to Almighty God who has protected all of us in His Providence. We also pray for the dead and the sick with sorrow and hope.

The pandemic and its tragic effects on every aspect of our way of life have drawn attention anew to one of those important elements: sharing. For this reason we thought it opportune to address this issue in the Message we are pleased to send to each and all of you.

We all share God’s gifts: air, water, life, food, shelter, the fruits of medical and pharmaceutical advances, the results of the progress of science and technology in diverse fields and their application, the ongoing discovery of the universe’s mysteries… The awareness of God’s bounty and generosity fills our hearts with gratitude towards Him and, at the same time, encourages us to share His gifts with our brothers and sisters who are in any kind of need. The poverty and precarious situations in which many people find themselves because of the loss of employment and the economic and social problems related to the pandemic make our duty of sharing ever more urgent.

Sharing finds its most profound motivation in the awareness that all we are and all we have are gifts from God and that, in consequence, we have to put our talents at the service of all our brothers and sisters, sharing what we have with them.

The best form of sharing springs from genuine empathy and effective compassion towards others. In this regard, we find a meaningful challenge in the New Testament: “If anyone is well-off in worldly possessions and sees his brother in need but closes his heart to him, how can the love of God abide in him? Children, our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine (John 3, 17- 18).

However, sharing is not limited to material goods. Above all, it involves sharing one another’s joys and sorrows, which are part of every human life. Saint Paul invited the Christians of Rome to “rejoice with others when they rejoice, and be sad with those in sorrow” (Romans 12, 15). Pope Francis, for his part, affirmed that a shared pain is halved and a shared joy is doubled (cf. Meeting with the pupils of Scholas Occurrentes, May 11, 2018).


Other faiths invite Dubai Muslims to break fast together during Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan in the UAE, a number of foreign residents and followers of different religions are gathering to break their fast together

April 23, 2022

For two years, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had not been the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year, however, things seem to be back to normal, with respect for public safety rules.

Restaurants are once again swarming with customers during fast breaking time or iftar, and during special Ramadan evenings.

However, humanitarian and collective initiatives have been launched in a country in which foreign residents outnumber citizens.

In addition to the government iftar tents across the seven emirates that distribute meals for free, other humanitarian initiatives are being carried out by foreign and non-Muslim communities.

Guru Nanak Darbar, the Indian Sikh temple in the Jebel Ali Village, in the south of Dubai, has been providing daily meals to low-income Muslims of all nationalities since Ramadan began. Those who wish can share food with members of the Sikh community.

This religious sanctuary is located within an area known as the Churches Complex, which includes several Christian churches.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the head of the Guru Nanak Darbar Temple, Ragidi Babuhai Patel, said, “The Indian community is the largest in the UAE, numbering more than 3 million individuals from different confessions, whether Islamic, Christian, Hindu or Sikh.”

There are about 50,000 Sikhs in Dubai, he said, “but I do not have numbers in the rest of the emirates.” The temple was built in 2012,  but two older temples are located in Bur Dubai

The idea of providing daily meals for Muslims and members of any other faith during Ramadan began in 2018, he said. Most of their Muslim visitors are Indian, followed by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and “People of other nationalities and faiths visit the temple occasionally. They sit with us during iftar.” 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the space could accommodate some 60 people. Today, however, with public safety measures, a maximum of 30 to 40 people are allowed in.

“Our meals do not contain any kind of meat or its derivatives, because our faith does not allow it,” Patel explained. “The idea is to break bread out with our brothers in life, especially the low-wage workers, out of humanity, peace, and fraternity.”

Common dishes include channa masala, which are small pancakes stuffed with potatoes, curry, and onions. Palak paneer is made of spinach and chunks of paneer, which is Indian style farmer’s cheese. Other dishes are also served in addition to fruits, Indian sweets, and Karak tea.


What Christians Can Learn from Muslims During Ramadan

It is not every year that Muslims observe Ramadan while Christians celebrate Easter and Jews celebrate Passover. Muslims follow a lunar calendar—a year of twelve cycles of the moon, not the solar calendar marked by Earth’s orbit around the sun. This means that the Islamic year is a bit shorter (by about 11 to 12 days) than the solar year and consequently that Ramadan starts earlier each year. This year Ramadan began in the midst of Lent and will conclude in the midst of Easter Season. With the disturbing recent news about the persecution of Christians in Egypt and Nigeria, it is perhaps fitting to remind readers that—despite the acts of small numbers of militants—Christians need not fear Muslims. Indeed Christians might even learn from them.

The idea of mutual learning represents a different approach to Muslim-Christian relations. Typically, Christians and Muslims think in terms either of polemics or dialogue. On the one hand, the internet is abuzz with Muslim-Christian dispute. Hundreds of Islamic websites, YouTube channels, Instagram feeds, and twitter accounts advance “dawah,” a form of Muslim evangelism that is not limited to apologetics but often includes polemical attacks on the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the Bible.

Christians often respond in kind, and not always with an apologetic of love. Certain apologists caricature and scorn the Qur’an and the records of Muhammad’s sayings and deeds known as the hadith. We are told that the Qur’an preaches a cruel and vengeful God and that Muhammad was guilty of the worst sort of sexual immorality. Some Catholics participate in this polemical game. Now most “dawah practitioners” and Christian apologists claim that they do not mean to spread hate, but only to preach the truth. Nevertheless, the image they give of the other is not authentic. Indeed sometimes it is hardly recognizable.


Jews, Christians and Muslims mark major holidays as war in Ukraine continues

This weekend, Jews, Christians and Muslims are all celebrating major holidays at the same time. Ramadan, Passover and Easter all coincide in a rare occasion. But in Europe, the war in Ukraine overshadows all three holidays. 

A Ukrainian and a Russian woman who work together at a Rome hospital took part in Pope Francis’ “Way of the Cross” service. But the meditation they wrote was scrapped after protests by Ukrainian Catholics claimed the war made it inappropriate. 

Italy Pope Good Friday
Two nurses, Albina from Russia, right, and Irina, from Ukraine hold the cross as they take part in the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession presided by Pope Francis on Good Friday in front of Rome’s Colosseum, in Rome, Friday, April 15, 2022.GREGORIO BORGIA / AP

In Jerusalem, Palestinians and Israeli police clashed Friday at the al-Aqsa mosque. More than 150 worshippers were injured at the site that is sacred to Jews and Muslims. 


Al-Aqsa mosque: Dozens hurt in Jerusalem clashes

At least 163 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers have been hurt in clashes in Jerusalem, Palestinian medics and Israeli police say.

Most were injured at the Al-Aqsa mosque, where Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades as Palestinians threw stones and bottles.
Tensions have been rising over the potential eviction of Palestinians from land claimed by Jewish settlers.
The Red Crescent has opened a field hospital to treat the wounded.
The Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City is one of Islam’s most revered locations, but its location is also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.
The site is a frequent flashpoint for violence, which unfolded again on Friday night after thousands had gathered there to observe the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli police said they had used force to “restore order” due to the “rioting of thousands of worshippers” after evening prayers.
WATCH: Why Jerusalem is so important
What makes Jerusalem so holy?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, said he “held [Israel] responsible for the dangerous developments and sinful attacks”.

An Aqsa official called for calm over the mosque’s loudspeakers. “Police must immediately stop firing stun grenades at worshippers, and the youth must calm down and be quiet!”, Reuters news agency quoted them as saying.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 88 of the injured Palestinians were taken to hospital after they were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets. Police said some of the 17 officers injured needed medical treatment.

Israeli police walk near the Dome of the Rock during clashes with Palestinians, 7 MayIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS

Israeli Police at the site, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews

The international community also appealed for de-escalation on Friday, as anger mounted over the threatened eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Shaikh Jarrah district.
A US State Department spokeswoman said Washington was “deeply concerned about the heightened tensions”. The European Union condemned the violence and said “perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable”.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, urged all parties to “respect the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City in the interest of peace & stability.”


What this Muslim sexual health educator wants you to know about Islam and sex

Sameera Qureshi is debunking myths and sharing necessary education IRL and to her ever-growing online following

When you think of Islam, you don’t necessarily think of a pro-sexual pleasure religion. This is *especially* the case if you were raised in the West and have been taught – due to tabloid headlines and negative representation in tv and film – to view the second biggest religion in the world as “oppressive” or “illiberal”. In fact, women (be they Muslim or non-Muslim) are always surprised to hear that I find inspiration for my sexual wellness through my Islamic faith.

But perhaps my approach shouldn’t be seen as anything out of the ordinary – at least if you take the word of sexual health educator and occupational therapist Sameera Qureshi. Running the Instagram and TikTok accounts @sexualhealthformuslims Sameera has amassed a following of almost 45,000 by exploring topics such as sexual health, pleasure and desire in conjunction with the soul, trauma and healing.

Through working with Quranic text, she aims to empower millennial Muslims of all genders. Her approach is to go back to the cores of Islamic faith and what it teaches us about our sexual health, sexuality and sex lives: the parts of our Muslim lives that are usually left unsaid, a space we usually have to navigate by ourselves. Inspired by her work online, I was able to talk with Sameera about her practice to learn more about her insights around sexual wellness within Islam.


Ukraine shows war is always about greed & hatred. Not Christianity vs Islam ‘Clash of Civilisations’

Post Cold War, Muslim World was seen as rising to challenge the Christian West. The war now is in Europe, within the same race, faith, civilization.

Many new thoughts emerged in the global political science and strategic communities after the Cold War ended. Among the most prominent was Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations in 1993, which came in response to, or probably provoked, by his brilliant pupil Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, published a year earlier.

It would be hasty to say both lie in the rubble of Bucha, Mariupol and Kharkiv yet. But enough is happening to reopen most post-Cold War debates and theories.

Here’s what we have. Slav fighting Slav, so it’s within the same white race; the Christian Orthodox (listed by Huntington among his various civilisations) fighting the Orthodox, so that takes religion/ religious order out of the equation. And it has brought back the Western powers in conflict again in Europe. The big, powerful, unidimensional (military) superpower they confront in Russia has a near ally in the biggest power in Asia, namely China. And a new Cold War is well and truly on.

All we need to list now are the many new ironies, contradictions and paradoxes the situation offers and reach our usual limit of the weekly 1,200 words for National Interest. After all, old Soviet-era T-72 tanks being transported by trains from former Warsaw Pact member Czech Republic, S-300s from Slovakia and the entire effort being bankrolled by America and NATO, directly or indirectly, European nations buying $38 billion worth of energy from Russia in the period they spend a billion on arming Ukraine against it etc. each make a story. But this week, we aren’t going there. Because that’s too lazy for this column where we search for a complexity every week.

Which brings us to the Islamic world. Surprised? What do the poor Muslims have to do with any of this? They can’t even be blamed for the rise in crude oil prices. Why drag them in then? Which is precisely the point.


A Ramadan etiquette guide for non-Muslims

There are about 7.6 billion people in the world. And around 24% of them — 1.8 billion — are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month.
It’s Ramadanthe holiest month of the Muslim calendar.

But what if you’re not a Muslim — just a caring, considerate person. Is there anything you should do so you don’t come across as insensitive to your fasting friends in the US during Ramadan?
Short answer: No. Long answer: No.
But you can earn some cool points if you follow these 10 tips:

1. You can totally eat in front of us …

For the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry on business as usual. (Just turn a deaf ear to our growling stomachs.)

2. … but try not to schedule a work lunch

If you have to host a brown-bag, you should. But don’t feel bad if we sit there, like a vegetarian friend at a churrascaria. Ditto for a happy-hour mixer. If your Muslim co-worker takes a pass, understand.

3. You don’t have to fast with us …

You can if you want to see what it feels like. But it’s not going to hurt our feelings — even if we’re best friends.

4. … but you can join us for Iftar

Iftar is the breaking of the fast after sundown. We like to make it a big communal meal. You should come.