Letters to the President: Reflections on Growing Up as Muslim Americans

(from the White House website)

POTUSeidToday, Muslims in America and around the world are breaking fast and celebrating the end of Ramadan with family and friends. President Obama offered the following statement:

Upon the arrival of a new crescent moon, Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Eid al-Fitr in the United States and around the globe.

 For Muslim Americans, Eid is an opportunity to reflect on the 30 days spent fasting and to recommit to values of gratitude, compassion, and generosity. In neighborhoods and homes across the world, this special occasion begins in the early hours of the day when families dress in their finest attire in preparation for prayers and festivities. Homes are decorated with ornaments and lanterns. Gifts are wrapped and envelopes of money are prepared for kids. Above all, Eid is a time to gather and celebrate with loved ones.

 Muslim Americans are as diverse as our nation itself—black, white, Latino, Asian, and Arab. Eid celebrations around the country remind us of our proud history as a nation built by people of all backgrounds; our history of religious freedom and civil liberties, and our history of innovation and strength. These legacies would not be possible without the contributions of Muslim Americans that make our country even stronger.

 This past month, our country and the world endured challenges and senseless violence that broke our hearts and tried our souls. Our prayers are with the hundreds of innocent lives, many of them Muslim, taken during the month of Ramadan in places like Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, and Medina.

 Here at home, we’ve also seen a rise in attacks against Muslim Americans. No one should ever feel afraid or unsafe in their place of worship. Many Americans have shared in the experience of Ramadan by volunteering in community service efforts to assist those in need and even fasting a few days with their fellow Muslim American co-workers. In the face of hate, it’s our American values and strength that bring us together to stand in solidarity and protect one another—thereby, making our Nation stronger and safer.

Muslim Americans have been part of our American family since its founding. This Eid, we recommit to protecting Muslim Americans against bigotry and xenophobia, while celebrating the contributions of Muslim Americans around the country, including one of our finest, the People’s Champion Muhammad Ali, to whom we bade farewell this Ramadan. Later this month, Michelle and I will host an Eid celebration at the White House and we look forward to welcoming Americans from around the country to celebrate the holiday.

 From our family to yours, Eid Mubarak!

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE 

How Christians are using their lawns to support their Muslim neighbors.

(Note:  Ramadan has now ended, but just found this story and it was too good not to pass on)

Eid_ul_Fitr_Greetings_Happy_Eid_Mubarak_HD_Desktop_Wallpapers_Greeting_Cards_Pictures_Facebook_fb_Timeline_Covers_Backgrounds-12Ramadan is the month that Muslims believe God began the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. This year, Ramadan started on June 6 and will probably end on July 7.

During Ramadan, the world’s Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, pray more, give charity, and otherwise spend prayerful and peaceful lives. And while Ramadan is always interesting, it’s especially fascinating this year, as there’s also been a surge of bigotry toward Muslim Americans.The current negative political rhetoric about Islam has made this a difficult time for American Muslims across the nation to celebrate and focus.

But one Christian group in Minnesota is trying to change that tough dynamic by encouraging tolerance and understanding of their Muslim neighbors … on their front lawns.

The Minnesota Council of Churches, a group of more than 25 churches from a variety of denominations, made news earlier this month for their Blessed Ramadan campaign, in whichthey asked community members to put signs like this one in their yards wishing Muslims a blessed holy month:

Image courtesy of the writer, used with permission.

After it was launched, the Blessed Ramadan program became a national hit.

It was featured on Voice of America Indonesia for “giving hope for better interfaith relationships to a majority-Muslim country where Christians sometimes experience persecution,” according to Rev. Jerad Morey, the project organizer and program and communications director of the Minnesota Council of Churches.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UPWORTHY

In pictures: Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr around the world

TO ALL OUR MUSLIM FRIENDS:

EIDKUM MUBARAK!! 

Muslims in the UK begin their celebrations on Wednesday to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Eid al-Fitr is one of the biggest festivals in the Islamic year and millions of Muslims around the world will be joining the party together. Because it is based on the lunar calendar, Eid falls at different times in different countries. In the UK, US and Canada the Eid celebrations will go on between 6-8 July. But in other countries the festival lasts much longer and in many Muslim countries is granted several days of public holiday.

The first day of Eid al-Fitr is the one day of the Islamic year that Muslims cannot fast on. Typically this is marked with a small sweet breakfast such as a date before the special Eid prayers known as Salat al-Eid.

Here is a snapshot of the Eid al-Fitr being observed around the world:

eid-al-fitr-prayers

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY 

How religious holidays are uniting Iraqi Muslims and Christians

Christians Ramadhan

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate in Iraq called on Christians to fast one day during the holy month of Ramadan. On June 17, Iraqi Christians fasted alongside the Muslim community. The patriarchate’s statement said, “For one day, [Christians] will show solidarity with the fasting Muslims; they will pray for peace and stability in Iraq and the region, as well as for the consolidation of the culture of brotherhood, love and coexistence.”

Father Maysar Bahnam of Mar Korkis Catholic Church in Baghdad told Al-Monitor, “Christians are organizing activities to reach out to Muslims. Our church organized on June 9 an iftar [meal served at sunset] for the fasting Muslims, as an annual tradition that promotes coexistence between Christians and Muslims.”

The official in charge of the church’s Social Committee, Issam Maskouni, told Al-Monitor, “Organizing an iftar for Muslims provides a meeting point for Muslims and Christians far from sectarian bickering and in an atmosphere free from the hate speech and divisive rhetoric prevailing in the political scene.”

For his part, Louis Raphael I Sako, the current Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told Al-Monitor, “These initiatives are not new to the Chaldean Church and other churches of Iraq. Churches have always provided aid to all Iraqis without exception. They distributed food to refugees fleeing the oppression of the Islamic State [IS], and they did this on different occasions and in different camps. Churches provided medicines to charitable clinics, organized iftars for the fasting Muslims, and hosted and provided care for displaced university students to allow them to complete their academic year or graduate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR 

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Christians join Muslim Ramadan in symbolic act of solidarity in Iraq

iraqi-christiansThe Chaldean Patriarchate invited Iraqi Christians in the war-torn country to celebrate the Holy Ramadan with their fellow Muslim citizens as a symbolic gesture of solidarity.

Heeding the call of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, Iraqi Christians joined Iraqi Muslims Friday, June 17 in celebrating the holy month of Ramadan by fasting and prayer.

“In this way we just wanted to propose a Christian gesture: as Christians, we are confident that fasting and prayer, also shared with others, can work miracles, while weapons and military interventions only kill,” Sako told Agenzia Fides.

Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan by dawn to dusk with fasting and intense prayer. They commemorate the time believed when Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad.

The Christians also accompanied their symbolic gesture with acts of charity as they pray for peace and stability in a country that’s ravaged by Islamic State terrorists and produced a large number of internally displaced people.

“Today we will offer, through Caritas Iraq, a contribution of $50 thousand in favor of the refugees of Fallujah,” said Sako.

The patriarch added that they planned to “symbolically offer” Iftar to some Iraqi Muslims as they break the day’s fasting. He noted that although many Muslims expressed gratitude, some Christians abroad criticized their gesture.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN TIMES 

 

Cameroon Christians Join Muslims to Break Ramadan Fast

DF37D7D9-2A42-4310-A0AB-096BC28F6497_w640_r1_s_cx0_cy18_cw0Muslims around the world are marking Ramadan with prayer and fasting. In Cameroon, Christians and Animists are joining Muslims for the evening meal as a show of solidarity against the terrorist group Boko Haram, which has been carrying out attacks in the north since 2014.

Hundreds of people gather at Yaounde’s largest mosque to pray and break fast. But not all are Muslims. Christians have come to share supper. They wait outside in the courtyard while the Muslims pray.

“The message is just one: let Cameroon remain [the] same. Christians and Muslims should live together. We should not discriminate and we pray for a better Cameroon,”said  Charles Nzobo, an elder at the Catholic cathedral across town.

Fear of tensions

Cameroon does not have a history of religious conflict. But some fear that the Boko Haram insurgency in the north is creating tension and suspicion between Christians and Muslims as it did in Nigeria.

FILE - A woman sings during a prayer session at the Saint Francis Xavier parish, part of the fraternity Ephphata charismatic awakening branch of the Catholic church, ahead of the arrival on Tuesday of Pope Benedict XVI in Yaounde March 17, 2009.
FILE – A woman sings during a prayer session at the Saint Francis Xavier parish, part of the fraternity Ephphata charismatic awakening branch of the Catholic church, ahead of the arrival on Tuesday of Pope Benedict XVI in Yaounde March 17, 2009.
About a quarter of Cameroon’s population is Muslim. Authorities have arrested dozens of Muslim clerics for their alleged support for Boko Haram. But those gathered at the mosque say people should not generalize. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA NEWS

Ethiopia’s Christians mark Ramadan alongside Muslims

ethiopiaBy Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

The sun had already sunk below the blood red horizon in Addis Ababa’s neighborhood of Semien Mazegaja as Jemal Ahmed and his wife Kebedech Aliyu prepared for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Sitting in their neat one-bedroom home with their year-old twins Ismael and Issac sleeping nearby, Jemal, a Muslim, and his Orthodox Christian wife Kebedech explained how their different faiths did not prevent them from honoring each other’s religions.

“Thanks God, we lead a happy and cheerful marriage,” Jemal, 31, told Anadolu Agency. “We are faithful to our beliefs and a marriage that made us one.”

Speaking in a soft voice, Jemal explained how he and Kebedech, 29, would fast and pray together during Ramadan. “I also accompany her in every religious event and Lent,” he added.

Their cross-religious marriage is reflected in their children’s names,” Jemal said. “Ismael and Issac are Christian and Muslim names so the kids will appeal to both religions and be what they would be.

“They are already Muslims, according to the teachings of Islam and our agreement.” Turning to his wife, he asked: “Is it not?”

“Hum,” she coughed and burst into merry laughter.

“This is a tradition in Ethiopia,” she said. “They have a religion that has accepted me wholeheartedly.”

In Ethiopia, which is home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, Sunni Muslims make up around 34 percent of the estimated population of 97 million.

According to Islamic scholar Ahmed Abdurrahman, Ramadan in Ethiopia has always been marked by interaction between Muslims and Christians.

“Here there is no segregation,” he said. “No Christian- or Muslim-only neighborhoods. We have lived as one single indispensably linked community ever since Islam arrived in Ethiopia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AA.COM.TR