Thursday, June 16, 2016
Blessed Ramadan: Thursday's Reflection
If you live in Minnesota, perhaps you have noticed recently this sign in yards and in front of churches. The sign says, "To our Muslim Neighbors Blessed Ramadan" and was made available by the Minnesota Council of Churches. Our church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, was one of many who distributed the sign to our membership.
To be honest I don't know if I have any Muslim neighbors. At least on our block. I know when I shop at Target and other places I see Somali women who are shopping or working there, and the other night when we attended an outdoor concert at one of the parks, I was mesmerized by a group of women almost floating across the grass in their flowing robes. But I admit with embarrassment that my personal connection with people of the Islamic faith is greatly limited. In fact, my knowledge of Islam is miniscule.
The signs, therefore, are for me, too. Not only do I want to express support and show respect for one of the great religions of the world and its believers, but the sign prompts me to learn, to extend my understanding, and to uncover my own prejudices and ignorance. And, perhaps, others when they see the sign will be moved to greater awareness, as well.
Now is a good time to do that.
A Few Basics
This year Ramadan, which is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, began on Sunday, June 5 and will end on Tuesday, July 5. It was during this sacred month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Mohammed. That time is called "The Night of Power."
This is a month devoted to deep contemplation of one's relationship with God, a time for extra prayer and study of the Quaran, but is also a time of celebration and joy with loved ones. In fact, Ramadan ends with a three-day" Festival of Breaking the Fast."
Fasting is a key component of this month--fasting from sunrise to sunset. The purpose of fasting is to focus on one's frailty as a human being and to acknowledge one's dependency on God for sustenance, as well as to increase compassion for the poor and needy.
It strikes me that the goals and focus of Ramadan could benefit people of all faiths. Whose faith and spirituality could not grow from more time spent reflecting and contemplating and also by responding with charity and love towards anyone in need?
Even if one does not fast from eating sunrise to sunset, imagine what it would be like to fast from thoughts of resentment, envy, even hate?
Therefore, I wish Muslims and all their neighbors far and wide a Blessed Ramadan.
In what ways might you honor Ramadan? I would love to know.
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church