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Ramadan For All: We Are In This Together

Jun 05, 2016 — Categories: ,

Ramadan is almost here. It begins on June 6. This holy month is a time for Muslims to fast during the daylight, focus on prayer, generosity, compassion, and family. It is a special time set aside from normal daily life. Meditation, prayer and reflection take a central role in the day, while the fasting focuses the mind (and the body) on a personal sacrifice for faith. It is a beautiful holiday. You have certainly heard the hate-filled rhetoric that permeates our airwaves these days. It began on September 11, 2001 and has waxed and waned ever since. Now it has reached the presidential campaigns. We have a candidate who is inflaming hate and violence against Muslims and threatening to prevent all Muslims from entering the U.S. Of course, the U.S. is not alone in this. The response in Europe is just as shameful, with many countries struggling with the challenges of thousands of refugees leaving the war-torn Middle East.

Ramadan is almost here. It begins on June 6. This holy month is a time for Muslims to fast during the daylight, focus on prayer, generosity, compassion, and family. It is a special time set aside from normal daily life. Meditation, prayer and reflection take a central role in the day, while the fasting focuses the mind (and the body) on a personal sacrifice for faith. It is a beautiful holiday.

BlessedRamadan.jpg

You have certainly heard the hate-filled rhetoric that permeates our airwaves these days. It began on September 11, 2001 and has waxed and waned ever since. Now it has reached the presidential campaigns. We have a candidate who is inflaming hate and violence against Muslims and threatening to prevent all Muslims from entering the U.S. Of course, the U.S. is not alone in this. The response in Europe is just as shameful, with many countries struggling with the challenges of thousands of refugees leaving the war-torn Middle East.

As we reflect on history, “Never Again” has been said many times. It is a hope-filled statement that we humans will finally, finally learn the value of life, learn the gift of compassion, take responsibility and ensure that the horrors of the past remain in the past.

We’re at another “Never Again” moment. And what is our response to Islamophobia, the fear of Muslims? We know that fear is based in ignorance and that is certainly the case here. Islam as a religion and Muslims themselves are constantly slandered, targeted, and misunderstood largely because of a campaign of disinformation orchestrated for political gain. They are one of the most convenient scapegoats at the moment.

As a Christian, I often talk about the Good Samaritan in discussions about a faithful response to sexual and domestic violence. It is a way that those of us who are “bystanders” can have an impact on preventing violence and abuse, as well as offering healing for the abused. It is a helpful parable for discussing community responsibility, ethics and morality, and what we are called to be and do as believers.

For all of us who are not Muslim, we cannot simply be passive bystanders in this moment. We need to stand up and take on Islamophobia. This is our problem, and it’s our fight. The reality is that  Muslims are our friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members.

Just as I would urge a bystander to intervene if they saw someone harming a child, teen or adult, so as non-Muslims we  have to be the ones to address this head-on. It isn’t fair to ask a victim to take responsibility for an attack or abuse. It isn’t fair that we ask Muslims to be the only ones to address the hatred and fear that’s aimed at them (though they are, and in creative, heartwarming ways.)

There have been many denominations and congregations who have publicly denounced the proposed idea of barring Muslims from immigration to the US. These voices from our faith leaders are welcome and significant. There are things that we can do locally during this holy month of Ramadan.

I’d like to offer some suggestions:
Ramadan Yard Sign
  • And how about addressing the rampant online hate that’s aimed at Muslims? Use the hashtag #BlessedRamadan in your social media messages to combat online hate.
  • Check your local community for Mosques and Islamic Community Centers offering public Ramadan Iftar meals, a literal feast the ends the fasting of the day.
  • Educate yourself and your family about the tenets of Islam. Too many of us are relying on unreliable resources for this information.
  • Finally, if you see someone harassing a person they assume to be Muslim for whatever reason, step up and interrupt that exchange. At least let the person who is targeted know they are not alone. We all have lines in this play.

I offer my hope for a Blessed Ramadan to my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune
www.FaithTrustInstitute.org
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Never Again

Posted by sk at Jun 30, 2016 06:20 PM
You used the phrase “Never Again” but it was not given its usual frame of reference, that of the WWII Holocaust. While not actually trademarked as such, the phrase “Never Again” has for decades been specifically understood to be in regard to the horrific, targeted “Final Solution” genocide that murdered over 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazi German regimes as well as other victims. To this day “Never Again” remains a slogan of the American Anti-Defamation League[i], and holds similar regard to the Holocaust by the Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies.
 
I agree with your post, that it is honourable to endeavour to prevent any other such Holocaust, such as was perpetrated by Nazi Germany against Jews, from occurring again for any people. However, leaving out the historical frame of reference, of the Holocaust and its targeted victims, forgoes the memory of to whom and what its origins are: specifically to what genocidal episode of history “Never Again” is referring to.
 
I bring this up because it is the very historical background of “Never Again” that gives this phrase its power. Preserving the phrase’s original intent is to preserve the memory of the otherwise unspeakable events and tragic loss of millions who lost their lives because of their religion.
 
Preserving this frame of reference both teaches and reminds us that such genocide is not a theoretical possibility but what really did happen within our lifetimes. It also allows a dignity to those who were murdered, to keep their memories alive, and allow their memories to become a blessing: as a reminder to not let this happen again.