Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blessed Ramadan

The New Father's Moon
**** **** **** **** **** **** ****

Once again, the holy month of Ramadan is upon us. Ramadan Mubarak!
Last year I posted about my growing concern about how Islam and Muslims are viewed in America and the West in general. I spent a thoughtful and fruitful month collecting information about Islam and Ramadan and sharing it with my close and distant circle of friends in person and electronically. It is Ramadan again, and again I feel the call to spend the month learning and sharing what I find.
O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and a pilgrim's Ka'bah,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Qur'an.
I follow the relition of Love: whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

Ibn Arabi
It has been an exciting year for the Islamic world and a hard one. Revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia are changing the way people in North Africa and the Middle East view their governments and their societies. People continue to struggle for political reform in Yemen, Syria, Palestine and many other places. The struggle has turned to outright war in Libya, and Sudan is probably just in a lull in its long standing civil war. Famine grips Somalia and Ethiopia and the ancient battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India continue on in their modern forms. Muslims in Europe and North America continue their struggle for economic freedom and acceptance in antagonistic cultures. I can only imagine it must be a difficult time for many Muslims around the world. I know that I can make a difference by helping other people learn about the religion of Islam, get some perspective on the current events in the Muslim world and understand more of Muslim world history.

This year my Ramadan call feels strongly about the people and cultures of the Muslim world. About 1.5 billion people, 20% of the world's populatio
n are Muslim. The Muslim world stretches from Morocco to Pakistan to China, Indonesia, the US and northern Europe. Muslims have black skin, blond hair, brown skin, Asian faces and every other kind of face imaginable. People are Muslim in sandy deserts, lush tropical rain forests, temperate mountains and high, windy plateaus. Like with all religions, people continue to practice their local traditions in addition to Islam leading to various versions even of the same basic activities. So many different cultures, so many different kinds of people.

I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He
was not there; I went to the Temple of the
Hindus and to the old pagodas, but I could not
find a trace of Him anywhere.

I searched on the mountains and in the valleys
but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I

able to find Him. I went to the Ka'bah in Mecca,
but He was not there either.
I questioned the scholars and philosophers but
He was beyond their understanding.
I then looked into my heart and it was there
where He dwelled that I saw Him; He was
nowhere else to be found.
As a billion and a half Muslims around the world spend this month of Ramadan fasting and praying in order to be closer to God, I will spend it getting closer to God-In-People. I will spend time studying the cultures of the world and and also the cultures in my own neighborhood. I will cherish and cultivate my relationships with people I already know and love, and cultivate and open heart towards the people I do not already know. Again this year I will sit with queries from the North Pacific Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practices: Do I speak to and answer “that of God” in everyone? Am I charitable with others? Do I practice the art of listening to others, even beyond words? What will you be thinking about during this bright yellow August month when so many others are fasting, praying, feasting and playing?

Blessed Ramadan!

Images by Zolashine, JakeBrewer, Mizrak and NewMediaNormaRae. Click on their names or the photos for more of their amazing work. Thank you!

**** **** **** **** **** **** ****

New Father's Moon 2009: New Father's Moon
New Father's Moon 2010: Fourth of July

This post is about Ramadan, as are my posts from last August, Ramadan and The End of Ramadan.

No comments: