Eid Mubarak to our Muslim Friends!

Muslims around the world are celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Eid al-Fitr, or “the festival of breaking the fast”, begins with the first sighting of the new moon, and it often varies from country to country.

Celebrations begin with a special early morning prayer in mosques and open-air spaces and later move on to feasts and festivals.

This year, Eid al-Fitr comes amid a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many Muslims are still determined to enjoy the holiday and the easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries.

But for others, the festivities are marred by conflict and economic hardship.

At the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers on Monday morning at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. It was shuttered when Islam’s holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and was closed to communal prayers last year.

FULL PICTORAL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

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. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY

Christians and Muslims: Sharing Joys and Sorrows

BY MIGUEL ÁNGEL AYUSO GUIXOT in OP-ED on 14 APRIL 2022

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).

FULL ARTICLE FROM ASTANATIMES (KAZAKASTAN)

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHURCH LIFE JOURNAL (NOTRE DAME)

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MTSTANDARD.COM (MONTANA, USA)

This April, Chicago has a rare opportunity for interfaith cooperation

Holidays important to a number of faith communities will converge this month for the first time in decades. In a time of rising faith-based bigotry, this should be a moment for Chicagoans of diverse backgrounds to learn about each other.

By Hind Makki, Sara Trumm Apr 2, 2022, 4:03am EDT

As leaders in our own faith communities and in inter-religious circles, we are anticipating a spring filled with holy days of multiple religious traditions.

For the first time since 1991,Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Baha’is, Hindus, Buddhists and Indigenous nations will observe holidays simultaneously. In April, this includes celebrations of Ramadan, Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi, Mahavir Jayanti, Theravada New Year and the Gathering of Nations.

This convergence, happening amid rising intolerance and discrimination, is the perfect time to connect, lift one another up and uphold our shared ideals: Treating our neighbors with dignity and respect, ensuring religious freedom for all.

Opinion

Our traditions, Islam and Christianity, call on us to know one another, welcome the stranger and to not slander one another. While the unprecedented global refugee crisis continues to grow, some say we must fear newcomers. Religious extremists and nationalists hijack our moral and ethical values, turning plowshares of cooperative living into swords. Coming together amid differences is not an easy path, but is rewarding for individuals and communities. We are better together than apart.

In our interfaith work, we witness solidarity and the building of meaningful relationships. A small interfaith group in Hyde Park began refugee resettlement in their neighborhood in 2016. It now has more than 225 supporters and is helping 10 families find self-sufficiency in their new lives.

One year, they hosted a quiet but unforgettable celebration of Nowruz (New Year marked in many countries along the Silk Road) with a refugee family in their new home. They were careful to celebrate in a way that would not re-traumatize the children — without crowds or the loud bang of fireworks.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO SUN TIMES

As Afghan refugees celebrate Islam’s holy month, church gives Ramadan lessons

Somewhere between 75 and 100 UCC churches are actively sponsoring Afghan families — about 800 individuals — who have recently arrived in the US.

(RNS) — Even before the family of 10 Afghan evacuees arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, earlier this year, volunteers from eight local churches pitched in to prepare a home for them, painting and sanding and ripping out old carpeting. When the family arrived, the volunteers drove them to medical appointments and helped the children sign up for sports and the parents set up utilities.

But as Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of prayer and fasting, approached, the volunteers of Gettysburg’s Refugee Resettlement Partnership weren’t sure what they could do to help their new neighbors, who are Muslim.

To answer their questions and those of churches across the country that have welcomed Afghans in the last few months, the United Church of Christ produced a series of four online events in March called “Ramadan in a New Country” aimed at teaching Christians about Ramadan, which begins this weekend.

“This is going to be the first Ramadan that these Afghan refugees are going to spend in a country that doesn’t celebrate Ramadan, and they’ve been through a lot,” said the Rev. Irene Hassan, the UCC’s minister for refugee and migration services.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE

American Airlines CEO Fasts For Ramadan To Honor Muslim Employees

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says he joined in a Ramadan fast in an effort to empathize with the carrier’s Muslim employees.

“The core of fasting is empathy,” Parker wrote Friday, in a LinkedIn post, quoting from an invitation he received from a Muslim employee group.

“Fasting helps us feel others’ pain, suffering, loneliness, poverty and hunger,” the invitation said. “In a way, it connects us as humans. Refrain from eating and drinking to experience what it’s like for Muslims to fast, and also to step into the shoes of impoverished people.”

The post is the latest in a series of actions by major airlines to show support for popular causes including voting rights, LGBTQ rights and carbon neutrality. By Tuesday, Parker’s post on LinkedIn had attracted 13,353 reactions and 536 comments.

Most were positive, and thanked Parker for showing respect. One, from Egypt said, “I find it awesome that you managed to fast all these long hours when you did not have to.”

However, a subset of comments decried a supposed lack of similar attention to Christian employees. One from Fort Worth said “I wish you had the same recognition and praise for Christian believers in the company. Christians fast regularly for the same reasons. I’ve never seen any special mention or recognition along that line.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FORBES

Muslims navigate COVID rules as they celebrate Ramadan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Muslims are celebrating their second Ramadan amid the pandemic.

But this year, they are observing the holy month at a more hopeful time in the ongoing public health crisis.

Last year, mosques closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak as the world struggled to understand the highly contagious, deadly illness. It meant many Muslims prayed and broke their daily fasts at home instead of gathering together to do so in community.

This year, mosques are open for prayers with coronavirus precautions in place and some worshipers have already been vaccinated.

Muslims are still adapting their usual Ramadan traditions as the outbreak continues and this time of prayer and fasting gets underway.

“It’s kind of like 50% going back to normal,” Hardui Adham said.

He volunteered Monday at the Salahadeen Center of Nashville, preparing the mosque for an influx of people. Traditionally, Muslims pray shoulder-to-shoulder, but not this year. Adham stuck social distancing stickers around the prayer hall, reminding everyone to stay six feet apart.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE