This is the fifteenth post in the Interfaith Ramadan 2016 series. Articles written by contributors from diverse faiths and none will published every day throughout the month of Ramadan.
My mother in law, who is Catholic, is so involved with our Ramadan celebration. From buying the best dates to helping read Ramadan stories to kids. She was even excited to see the Ramadan moon. She helped me with a Tree of Good deeds, where we write things the good deeds we did for every day of Ramadan. She has even told the kids to decorate her house for Ramadan/Eid. We will be doing that for Eid. Ramadan is a great time for finding similarities and connections between our religions. She talks about the fasts of Jesus (PBUH) and how being mindful is a Christian belief too. Her acceptance has made Ramadan so much richer. She is a truly amazing human. I love her so much.
Yesterday with a group of my friends, we made a meal for the most vulnerable and homeless in our town. The meal was served at the Baptist Church to about 60 people with more meals packed for them to takeaway. Three fasting women and 5 fasting children serving food to non-Muslims. At the end of which my friends turned to me and said "can we do this again?" A real honour and something that gave us all a sense of unity and friendship. It very much reminded me of Al- Muam "[1-7] Have you seen him who belies the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter? He it is who drives away the orphan and does not urge giving away the food of the poor. Then woe to the praying ones, who are careless of their Prayer, who do good to be seen,and withhold small kindnesses (from the people)".
It was also a privilege today to go and speak to a group of Theology students about my faith. It was very much a "conversation" about me as a Muslim, how I viewed the world, and the impact my faith has on my life. I love these interactive sessions as it gives me the opportunity to allay so many misconceptions and fears people have about Islam and Muslims. But also, because I was talking to Christians, it's just so fantastic to see when people suddenly realise that, hang on, there's really not much between you and me! It renews your faith in humanity and especially in people of other faiths. There was an amusing and very sweet point during the session. After I'd been talking for about 40 minutes (during which time I had spoken about the fact that I was fasting) I said to the group "right now over to you because I need a rest as my mouth is getting very dry". I suddenly became aware that a lady had jumped up and was heading to the drinks to pour me some water! However I didn't say anything and then realised that I didn't need to because about half a dozen other people were waving their arms at her frantically to remind her I was fasting! A wonderful couple of days sharing and caring with my Christian brothers and sisters!
Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal MBE DL
FAITH UNITY DISCIPLINE
Personal views personal opinions - http://hifsahiblog.wordpress.com/
Credit: Sarah Ager
I always enjoy reading the posts on Interfaith Ramadan. I have gained much insight into the spiritual lives of those of other faiths. I particularly liked (so far) the one by Vicki Garlock 'Forget about the Fasting. What about the Food?' It was interesting to see various faiths that had stories about how a little food miraculously fed a great number of people. The point Vicky made was, and I quote, 'Tales such as these – where a common theme echoes off differing historical and cultural frameworks – are the tales that bind. They bind us to our ancestors. They bind us to one another. And they bind us to the Great Mystery.' I was born into a Christian home and grew up to serve God as a Christian church leader. About 8-9 years ago I stopped attending worship in a Christian building, feeling the need to seek God through other means, looking into the beliefs of other faiths. I still consider myself a Christian but one who doesn't attend or take part in organised gatherings. I have learned to seek and find God through creation (I love my garden and wildlife), through reading things written by people of other faiths and following them on social media. I feel that the God I serve is bigger than any one expression and encompasses and includes all in His great love. I receive much blessing and encouragement on my spiritual journey through the lives and words of many with differing spiritual practices. We enrich each other's lives in sharing our experiences. Thank you Vicky for reminding me and thank you Sarah for the work you do through Interfaith Ramadan.
Mavis Andradez previously wrote When Interfaith Ramadan Goes Meta for the 2015 Interfaith Ramadan series and also happens to be Sarah's cousin twice removed.
This year I have been receiving iftaari (plates of samosas, fruit salad and sweets common in South Asian diaspora) from my neighbours. Before I had a chance to reciprocate, my next door neighbours, lovely Hindu family, also sent over plates with dates, Rooh Afza milky sherbet drinks and samosas. It doesn't surprise me at all because they are like family. But it is heartwarming and exciting to share this joy with them. And it's so nice to get food at your doorstep when you are hangry and tired at 8 p.m.
Shireen Ahmed is a sports activist and a freelance writer who focuses on Muslim women and the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. When she isn't watching soccer, she drinks coffee as a tool of resistance. She tweets at @_shireenahmed_ and her website is www.shireenahmed.com.
I love reading the sign board on my nearby Lutheran church. This year for almost 3 full weeks they kept the sign up "To Our Muslim Neighbors Blessed Ramadan". The sign is now replaced by "Tell someone you love them today". I think I will pay a visit to the church this Sunday to tell them how much I love them for being so progressive in this climate of hate and Islamophobia.
I’ve written before about Fast to Feed, an annual interfaith Ramadan tradition on my campus, and how much it means to me. This year’s was particularly special. It was just a few days after the tragedy in Orlando, and as a queer woman, my heart and soul were especially weary as I walked into the event that night. Fast to Feed, always inspiring, was this year a place of healing. Breaking the fast alongside my Muslim students and guests were more non-Muslims than usually attend. Among them were a Jain alumnus; a female incoming first-year student who identifies as a gay Christian; and even the new priest for the local Catholic church, who was warm and gracious and genuinely happy to be present. Together we remembered and mourned lives lost, raised money for Chicago’s hungry, and formed new friendships. Fast to Feed was a powerful reminder of love and community and best of humanity.
Lynne Marie Meyer serves as the Director of Spiritual Life and Diversity at Illinois Institute of Technology, where she works with IIT’s richly diverse population to make interfaith service a social norm. She previously wrote The Repair Of The World for Interfaith Ramadan and can also be found on Twitter at @Lynne_M_Meyer.
Credit: J Robert Eagan
This year I decided to create a Ramadan Conversations series on my podcast (linked below). The goal was to hear from my Muslim friends around the U.S. about the what and why of Ramadan for them. Through these conversations, I learned that each of them find Ramadan to be an intensely spiritual time of connection with God, which ran counter to what I experienced when I lived in the Middle East. I was inspired to create rhythms in my own life to slow down and make space to listen to, and search for, the voice of God.J Robert Eagan is the author of Of Strangers & Enemies and the co-founder of SE7EN FAST, a hub for connecting non-Muslims with interfaith Iftars during Ramadan. Eagan can be found on twitter at @Se7enFast, on both jroberteagan.com and se7enfast.com, as well as on the podcast frienemies.podbean.com/.