Saturday, 16 December 2017

Christian greetings to Muslim friends during Ramadan

BY the time that this article is published our Muslim brothers and sisters will have been participating in the month-long

BY the time that this article is published our Muslim brothers and sisters will have been participating in the month-long Ramadan for 10 days.

I value the friendships that I enjoy with my Muslim friends and find myself deeply impressed by the sincerity with which they approach Ramadan.

I have asked myself whether there are aspects of their observance that I, as a Christian and as a priest, can learn from and empathise with.

In the discussions that I have had with these friends I notice that they consider Ramadan as first and foremost an opportunity to work at deepening their relationship with God.

They focus on improving the quality of their prayer and worship and, through the study of their holy book the Quran, they seek guidance on the right and wrong ways to live their lives.

The fast that they undertake from dawn until sundown — no food or liquid — encourages them to think of the millions of people throughout the world who are suffering or starving through a lack of food and water. The fast encourages them to identify with the suffering these destitute people endure on a daily basis.

When the fast ends at the end of the day there is a sense of gratitude for being able to sit down and eat when so many are unable to do so.

This time of eating is also a time of hospitality where friends and family join together to enjoy the evening meal — with an emphasis on friendship and community.

Ramadan is also seen as a time when generosity and giving sacrificially to those in need is encouraged and practised.

Now of course there may be other aspects of Ramadan that I, as a Christian, might find more difficult to relate to.

At the same time all the points that I’ve mentioned above are wonderful virtues to be encouraged and celebrated.

The Muslim practice of looking upwards to God and outwards to their neighbours in need is also at the heart of the Christian Gospel. When asked which is the greatest commandment in the law Jesus replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

May I wish “Ramadan Mubarak” to Muslim readers of the Henley Standard and hope that all of us, whatever faith we belong to, may appreciate all that is good in one another.

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