I’m taking off my mom/autism/Muslim-American journalist hat right now and putting on my Patheos Muslim Channel Managing Editor hat to announce a Ramadan project we’re doing at our channel which, I hope, will help forge new and interesting interfaith learning sessions, bring the concept of fasting in Ramadan and all it means to a wider audience and help Muslims themselves reconnect with the beauty of this month.
We are embarking on a Fasting Project (for the lack of a better title) this month at the Muslim Channel, where we are pairing three bloggers from other Patheos faith channels with three bloggers/writers at the Muslim Channels to fast together. This project was born out of the concept of what Patheos is all about – a platform of dedicated faith channels and the idea of sharing content and growth in a horizontal fashion across faith channels while each channel also grows vertically with deep, rich, meaningful conversations in our own faith communities.
Patheos is more than interfaith dialogue. It’s a way to achieve interfaith learning, understanding and meaning while at the same time cover all the issues, topics, opinions and news in our own faiths. This is the concept idea that excited me brought me to Patheos more than two years ago.
I’ve seen our faith channels come together in monthly projects and faith challenges, like when we asked our writers and bloggers to tackle the question: “Why Are You A …?” (Click here for Rabia Chaudry’s beautiful response, here for Hind Makki , here for Umar Hakim and here for my own response to that question.) We’ve also had some lively discussions and learning opportunities in our Patheos Facebook group.
And, personally perhaps the most meaningful example of this cross-channel horizontal faith learning has been when readers from other faiths have reached out to me and said reading my work has helped them let go of preconceived, ugly thoughts about Islam and Muslims.
But at the Muslim Channel, we had yet to embark on a meaningful, dedicated project with any of the other faith channels where we could teach them more about our faith practices and beliefs. Last Ramadan I grew intrigued by the blog of The New Methofester, written by Wes Magruder, an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church serving the North Texas Conference. Magruder fasted the entire Ramadan last year (and blogged about it) with the support of his friend, Yaseen Sheikh.
(He’s doing it again this year, although his friend has moved to Baltimore. Read about this year’s Ramadan fasting here.)
So, I thought we needed to do something in that vein here at Patheos. There has always been so much interest in Ramadan and how and why we fast as Muslims from my colleagues and writers at the other Patheos faith channels. I thought I’d kick things up another notch.
About six weeks back I put a call out to see if any of Patheos’ bloggers or columnists would be interested in fasting (once or a few times) for Ramadan and partnering up with writers from the Muslim Channel. Three eagerly stepped up to the plate:
Justin has already posted about the project and his excitement to fast and learn more:
“I will be joining some fellow Patheos folks in fasting (for at least one day, hopefully several) along with Muslim friends for Ramadan, which is happening now through August 7th. In just my preliminary research into this I have already learned a great deal about Islam and this holiday and I look forward to the weeks ahead (click here for an amazing array of links to stories on Ramadan).
Given the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in India and Myanmar (Burma) – as well as that which has been ongoing in other parts of South and Southeast Asia, I hope this period will provide an opportunity to converse with my Muslim friends about what is happening there and how we might understand and work to end the violence.”
I’m excited and hopeful to see what will come forth of this. I wish Erik, Justin and Jamie well in their spiritual and fasting journeys, and I know that Umar, Hind and Rabia will be great friends to help them and support them along the way. To abstain from food, drink and sexual relations during daylight hours is just one part of fasting. To better ourselves as humans, to reach out to God and appreciate his blessings, to gain the smallest of understanding of the hunger that millions around the world face – this is all part of the fasts of Ramadan.
From the Quran, Surat Al Baqarah, 2:185: “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”
We will be featuring all their posts at the Muslim Channel, on our social networks, and I’ll curate them here on my blog as well. Please continue to check back to see how the fasting is going. May you all have blessed and meaningful fasting experiences.