Ramadan and Jubilee of Mercy: Christians and Muslims fasting and praying together for peace

In the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which is dedicated to fasting and prayer, provides Christians

Jun 15, 2016

BAGHDAD: In the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which is dedicated to fasting and prayer, provides Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and around the world an even greater opportunity to engage in dialogue.

Ramadan is an opportunity to meet, compare, pray, and fast together for peace in the world, engage in interfaith dialogue, and resist all forms of fundamentalism, violence, and terror perpetrated under the guise of religion.

As Iraq’s Chaldean Church points out, the occasions and venues to promote “peace and brotherhood” are legion, from Iraq to Pakistan, from the Philippines to Syria.

In a message sent to AsiaNews, signed by Mar Raphael Louis Sako, the Chaldean Patriarchate calls on Christians to fast this Friday (17 June) and pray for “peace and stability” in Iraq, a country reeling from conflict and violence.

His Beatitude also wants to see more done for displaced persons "in order to promote a culture of love, fraternity and harmonious coexistence".

The Iraqi Church has been directly involved in providing help like food, basic necessities, and medical care. For Ramadan, it also offers Iftar meals* to Muslims.

To sensitise Christians, “The Chaldean Patriarch, his Auxiliary Bishops and collaborators have decided to fast on this particular day.”

In Pakistan, Ramadan provides an opportunity to prepare Iftar meals for everyone, Christians and Muslims. Christian activists and leaders urge schools and parishes to promote communal meals at sunset, when fasting ends. This helps "promote true friendship."

Some local Church figures note that instead of booking Iftar dinner in restaurants where Muslim clerics are invited, home meals are preferable to bring together Christians and Muslims.

"Ramadan is a good opportunity to rebuild relations,” said Fr Aftab James Paul. This way, we can “let our Muslim brothers know that we share the same values."

In Aleppo, since the start of Ramadan, the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, Syria, has offered meals before dawn and after dusk to poor Muslim families. Each day Christian, Christian families in the suburb of Sulaimaniyah prepare meals for Muslims, which are then handed out at Saint Ephraim Cathedral.

In a statement to the media, the archdiocese said that “this simple gesture” expresses "solidarity" between citizens of different religions and boosts the sense of community and brotherhood in a country at war.

Indeed, Syrian Christians have been involved in outreach activities for some time, helping people of every faith. For example, Muslim orphans have been taken in at Church-run facilities.

In the Philippines, Davao Archbishop Emeritus Robles Capalla called on non-Muslims to observe the daily fast during Ramadan.

"We should promote this kind of activity as a way of dialogue with other religions," the prelate said.

Fasting, he noted, is part of every religious tradition, and is a positive show of solidarity. It is not just abstinence from food and drink, but also a time to boost personal devotion.--Asia News

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