The politics of Ramadan
Politicking runs deep in our community lives, be it a Mosque, Temple, Synagogue or a Church, particularly in the context of observing holidays.
To make the point, a Jewish friend shares this conversation, "When is Chanukkah this year?" The man replies, "Same as always: the 25th of Kislev." This makes a relevant point that Jewish holiday is on the same day every year, but on the lunar calendar and happens on a different day every year on the Solar Calendar. A quick review indicates that religious holidays for Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and other faiths follow the moon cycles where as the Indigenous peoples of America, Bahai, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and earth based traditions like Wicca and others follow the movement of equinox or the plain Solar Calendar that we see every day.
We wish a happy Ramadan, a peaceful and prosperous Rosh Hashanah, and truth triumphing Navaratri and other festivals that begin with the New Moon on September 19, this year.
Muslims are no different; a few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculation believed to be precise. However, four different traditions exist concurrently and follow; i) Lunar Calendar, ii) NASA and iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) accepting sighting by others in the community.
Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, where as others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. In the United States there is an organization that monitors moon sighting called the Hilal committee. At one time it was acceptable if the moon was sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting.
The objective guys miss out the fun, the NASA oriented and the Calendar group misses out the joy and exhilaration of waiting and watching the moon climbing anything above ground, including standing on some strong shoulders. It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels and other myths; each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and works for the followers.
In the tradition of Prophet, let every one celebrate the way their group feels, it is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices. The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” (pronounced “eed” as in “eel” the fish) or Happy Eid to every one who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick any one’s bubble; God has not signed a pact with any one behind others back, let’s rejoice the differences. If you want to celebrate, go to every celebration.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect and care.
For Ramadan to be truly universal, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims to common humanity with others. Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human, and its universality is reflected by its observance in Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Zoroastrian and other faiths.
That is indeed the wisdom expressed in Qur’aan, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware."
The author’s previous article, “Ramadan's Spiritual Discipline” is available at: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/08/ramadans_spiritual_discipline.html
(c) copyrighted material, please quote the author and organization if quoting or copying./ Pictures: courtesy of Boston Globe
Does the mainstream public in America, Canada, India, Australia or elsewhere relate with Muslim customs and traditions? The following articles are written with the intent of developing that understanding.
1. Traditions of Ramadan
2. Politics of Ramadan
3. Spirit of Ramadan
4. Our Mission - http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Mission-Statement.asp
The language chosen is generic and incidences are relational, so the public can relate with what they are familiar with and extrapolate that to the politics, traditions and the spirit of Ramadan. Of course, we can write a book on each. I have learned over the years that news papers have a reason to limit the length of the articles and I have followed that to the best of my ability.
You are welcome to share, forward, comment and make suggestion to make it better in the comments section of each article. You can publish it as well.
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a founder of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at Ghousemike@gmail.com
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PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.