Respecting Ramadan

My friend, Chris Heuertz, has a thoughtful and challenging post for all Christians:

Christmas, of course, is a sacred religious festival for Christians, celebrating the birth of our Christ. And so the recognition of this religious holiday from so many Muslim friends always surprised me. Isa or Jesus is a revered prophet in the Islamic tradition, and so there are clear hinges for Muslims to observe portions of the celebrations, but holiday greetings have always been a sincere affirmation of friendship.

Though many of my Muslim friends remembered me on many of the Christian holidays, I routinely failed to recognize theirs.

Ramadan is not only a special time for Muslims, but for people of all faiths. For non-Muslims, we are invited to consider making our own sacrifices and we are challenged to follow the example of our devoted friends. This is a prayerful time to consider what a more peaceful world might look like if we’d all prioritize periods of religious or non-religious purification.

So this week, to honor your valued friendships with Muslims return the respect and affirmation by wishing them “Ramadan Mubarak.” And come mid-August when the first crescent of the new moon is visible and the fast is completed be sure to wish them “Eid ul-Fitr Mubarak” or “Eid Mubarak” to celebrate their devotion and sacrifices.

via Ramadan, a sacred time for reflection, sacrifice to Muslims and appreciation as non-Muslims – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.

  • http://ryanrobinson.ca Ryan

    Good idea. The Muslim Association at my school always had a fasting day during Ramadan when they encouraged others to join them in raising money for charity. I did it a couple of times and found it spiritually beneficial, as well as of course helpful to the charity.

  • Rich

    The Apostle Paul had some things to say about syncretism and false gods…

    • Curtis

      Paul also had some words about self righteousness and believing you know better than someone else.

  • Steve

    Oh come on get a grip Ryan we’re just talking about being hospitable and friendly here. No one is asking you to worship false gods. I don’t think “the apostle paul” will be too offended.

  • Steve

    Sorry meant Rich* not Ryan

  • Tracy

    Steve, I think you were speaking to Rich, who, we might remind, is also confused about his fears. Muslims, like Jews, worship the same God we do. They don’t think Jesus is who we think he is, and they give great respect to a prophet Christians don’t put the same stock in, but they aren’t “worshipping other gods.” Mohammad and the Qur’an believed that Muslims worshipped the same God as Jews and Christians.

    “Allah” is the same word used by Christian Arabs and Jewish Arabs in their Bible, centuries before Islam came. On page one of Genesis in an Arabic language Bible you’ll find the word “Allah” 17 times.

    • Steve

      Yes I did mean Rich, my mistake. And you’re absolutely right in what you say about our understanding of God/Allah and frankly one would have hoped this was common knowledge by now – which is why I’m saying no one here is asking Christians to worship ‘false gods’.

      Even if we were talking about respecting a non-Abrahamic faith there’s still no need to start panicking about ‘syncretism’ as some do – it’s simply about being hospitable, loving our neighbours and doing to others what we’d have them do to us. If we can’t do that as Christians and remain confident in our own faith then one wonders exactly who has the distorted understanding of ‘God’ here?

    • T. Webb

      Tracy,

      With all due respect, you may feel that we all worship the same god, but please don’t force your belief onto Muslims. Islam _strongly_ denies any thought of the Trinitarian nature of God, which is the essential belief of the Christian faith. Islam sees belief in one god who eternally exists in three persons as rank idolatry. We can live in peace together, and be friends, and should be. But we don’t believe the same thing.

      Regards, Tim

      • Carl

        Exactly, Tim.

  • DanS

    Ramadan celebrates the month in which Muslims believe Muhammed received the first revelations of the Koran. To join with Muslims in celebrating Ramadan, it would seem, would be showing favor to the prophet and to the Koran. That would seem a step in the direction of syncretism, at the very least. Which does not mean we need to be inhospitable or rude, just that we do not celebrate the religious observances of other religions.

    …maybe during Ramadan there will be a few fewer churches bombed in Nigeria in the name of peace?

  • Rich

    Allah as Muslims view him is NOT the same God as the God of the Bible. If you can’t even figure that out, then syncretism is the least of your problems.

  • http://biscotti_brain.blogspot.com Erin Wilson

    I appreciate this post! I’m currently in northern Iraq for a project, and will be here for another week, so I’ll get to experience the first few days of Ramadan here.

    I have never met more gracious, generous or forgiving people than my new Kurdish friends. They’ve made my own faith in Jesus richer. And you know what? Not a single one has asked me why so many who claim to follow Jesus don’t live out the example he gave. Like I said… gracious.

    While I won’t be up eating with them at 3am, I hope to spend time in the evenings celebrating with my friends. We’ll talk more about what it’s been like to live a life of forgiveness… and I’ll continue to learn.

  • R. Jay Pearson

    When love is conditioned upon whether or not another’s theological insight is the same as ours, it is no longer love. It is fear. It is no longer Christ, it is anti-Christ; no longer Christian, but thoroughly “of” the world.

    Neither overrighteousness nor ignorance are Christian virtues.

    Jesus showed godly grace and love to a pagan who worshiped a pantheon of Roman “gods” and did not worship the “God of Abraham.” In fact Jesus praised the pagan man as having greater faith than all the Jews in Israel because, even with his pantheistic beliefs, he still saw and respected Jesus as a holy person who could perform miraculous deeds. It’s likely he didn’t see or know Jesus the same way the disciples did, but that didn’t matter. (see Matthew 8:10) Jesus loved him (and praised him) anyway.

    It’s also worth noting that when the disciples complained about a guy who wasn’t part of their group but was still performing good deeds in Jesus’ name, Jesus essentially told them to lighten up and stop building barriers. (Mark 9:38-41)

    Muslims are not part of the “group” of mainstream Christianity. But they nonetheless revere Jesus (he is prominent in the Koran), even though they see him differently than most Christians do (and not even all Christians believe the same things about Jesus). (see Koran, 3:45-51, 59; 57:27)

    And so if Tony is going to encourage us to show hospitality to non-Christians by saying a greeting rooted in their language and religious tradition — in essence, taking a figurative seat at their table — I’m going to say the same thing Jesus did: “Do not stop him.”

  • Mark

    Thanks for this post!
    There should be no fear in wishing a fellow human being, “Happy (insert holiday)”
    If you flip this around and consider a Muslim wishing you a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” it is simply one human showing another human kindness and respect. There is no worship involved, no syncretism, just kindness.
    Thanks again for sharing this blog.

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