753 Ramadan Kareem to all of our Muslim friends!
Day 753: Friday April 8, 2022
Ramadan Kareem to all of our Muslim friends!
(a reflection from our Friends of Sabeel North America -
The Christian Voice for Palestine)
Ramadan is a festive month given to charity, religious contemplation, and fasting. Most Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast with a drink of water and a date followed by a generous iftar meal. It is a month of lights, festivities, and prayers.
(Muslims support the poor, especially during Ramadan)
It is a time when Muslims are called upon to remember the poor and the needy and through the spiritual discipline of fasting to feel with them in their need. It is also a time when the community gathers to “break bread” together. Christians and Muslims in Palestine will often hold joint iftar feasts, and I myself often fast some days each Ramadan and enjoy katayef and other specialty sweets, just as many of my Muslim friends celebrate Christmas and often have lit Christmas trees in their homes for their children.
It is sometimes necessary to remind ordinary Americans that the word for God in Arabic is Allah and that Muslims, Jews, and Christians believe in the same God, the creator of us all.
As we wish a Happy Ramadan to our Muslim friends in Palestine, throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and here in North America, we reaffirm our commitment to fighting Islamophobia, which continues to raise its ugly head.
Our commitment to fighting prejudice and discrimination against Muslims is the same as our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism against Jews. It is rooted in our respect for the rights, dignity, and freedom of all people. One cannot claim to be a good Christian and hold Muslims or Jews in contempt, fear, or hatred.
In fact, the Muslim community in the United States is particularly vulnerable because many are relatively recent immigrants, having not yet sufficiently integrated into the American system. As such, many lack access to mechanisms of protection from overt discrimination and prejudice, at least within the public sphere. Likewise, they are not sufficiently represented in most critical sectors of this country, including the courts, the press, and the legislature.
Not only this, but the general culture—which only after a long time has finally accepted Jews as being an integral part of society—remains reluctant to grant equal recognition and legitimacy to Muslims and Islam.
While the United States and its constitution mandate the separation of church and state and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, Muslims still feel like outsiders—a prejudice exploited often by unscrupulous politicians, as we saw recently in President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” and periodically in idiotic calls to prohibit “Shari’a Law.”
This anti-Muslim prejudice is particularly felt on the issue of Palestine/Israel, where many American Christians express automatic sympathy with Israel and hostility to both Arabs and Muslims.
Sympathy and guilt over past acts of anti-Semitism, including the holocaust, often translates into prejudice against Muslims and Arabs. The resurgence of Islamic extremism, especially after the attacks on the Twin Towers and the rise of ISIS has also contributed to stereotypes that associate Islam with terrorism, fanaticism, and violence, even when the very word Islam denotes peace and tranquility.
While American Christians have much to learn about Islam and Muslims, perhaps they can start by realizing that the religion is not a monolith and that Islam and the Muslim world contains an amazing amount of breadth, depth, history, and variety, just as does Christianity and the Christian world. They are equally deserving of God’s love and the love of all his children.
By Jonathan Kuttab