Connecting with Our Muslim Neighbors During Ramadan

Fr. Carl Chudy, SX

On the evening of June 15, 2018, Ramadan has come to a completion for this year, the feast of Eid al-Fitr. As part of our new Mulitifaith Collaborative in the metrowest area of Massachusetts, we organized an iftar celebration, bring Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Daoists, and others with our Muslim friends in the traditional breaking of the fast of the day.

Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (Sawm) to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is an opportunity to deepen faith in God through fasting and prayer, and it is also an important time to strengthen support for the poor.

What was unique to this particular celebration was that it was non-Muslims who organized everything and invited our Muslim neighbors and others to join us. It was a great occasion to make new friends, and learn more about each other. We began with our Muslim friends offering the traditional prayer before the breaking of the fast, which followed by the eating of dates. Finally, we came together to eat and share.

The Catholic Church indeed accompanies our Muslim friends in the most important month of their year. At each Ramadan, the Holy See sends a greeting and message to Muslims and others worldwide at the conclusion called Eid al-Fitr. I place the entire letter which is brief here:

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,

In his Providence, God the Almighty has granted you the opportunity to observe anew the fasting of Ramadan and to celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue appreciates the importance of this month and the great effort by the Muslims throughout the world to fast, pray and share the Almighty’s gifts with the poor.

Mindful of the gifts prompted by Ramadan, we join you in thanking the Merciful God for his benevolence and generosity, and we extend to you our heartfelt best wishes.

The thoughts we would like to share with you on this occasion, dear Muslim brothers and sisters, concern a vital aspect of relations between Christians and Muslims: the need to move from competition to collaboration.

A spirit of competition has too often marked past relations between Christians and Muslims, the negative consequences of which are evident: jealousy, recriminations and tensions. In some cases, these have led to violent confrontations, especially where religion has been instrumental, above all due to self-interest and political motives.

Such interreligious competition wounds the image of religions and their followers, and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence.

To prevent and overcome these negative consequences, it is important that we Christians and Muslims recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences. By recognizing what we hold in common and by showing respect for our legitimate differences, we can more firmly establish a solid foundation for peaceful relations, moving from competition and confrontation to an effective cooperation for the common good. This particularly assist those most in need, and allows us to offer a credible witness to the Almighty’s love for the whole of humanity.

We all have the right and the duty to witness to the All-Powerful One we worship, and to share our beliefs with others, while respecting their religion and religious sentiments.

So that we may further peaceful and fraternal relations, let us work together and honor each another. In this way we will give glory to the Almighty and promote harmony in society, which is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural.

We conclude by renewing our best wishes for a fruitful fast and a joyful ‘Id, and assure you of our solidarity in prayer.

From the Vatican, 20 April 2018

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran

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