Call on Irish Muslims to reach out to people of other faiths this Ramadan
Holocaust survivor to be guest at Muslim meal in west Dublin this week
‘To have Tomi Reichental (above) in the mosque this Friday during Ramadan will not only send out a strong message of peace and dialogue to people of all faiths, but at the same time highlight the essential fundamental principles of Islam.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Ramadan is the month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity while obeying God’s commandments.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. The others are declaration of faith, five daily prayers, alms-giving and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
For Muslims, the month of Ramadan, which began last Thursday, serves as a season of spiritual renewal and gratitude for the bounties bestowed upon all human beings. In this light of spiritual reflection and self-sacrifice, Ramadan is closely related to the Christian holiday of Lent.
Ramadan is a month in which families become closer, communities strengthen their foundations, and individuals reaffirm their spiritual roots.
The Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council is calling on Irish Muslim communities to take time in this month of Ramadan to reach out to their neighbours of other faiths and traditions in a wonderful nationwide initiative titled “Community Iftar”. Iftar is an evening meal when Muslims break their fast for that day.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad opened the door of his mosque to a Christian delegation from Abyssinia and hosted this delegation in his mosque for three days.
As an imam, I feel that many Muslims do not demonstrate enough the prophetic practice of reaching out to people of other faiths for dialogue. I strongly believe that Muslims need to revive this prophetic practice, and this month of Ramadan grants us a great opportunity in the form of the Iftar dinners.
I have invited Tomi Reichental, a Holocaust survivor, as the main guest to the national community Iftar being held by the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council this Friday, June 26th, in the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre.
Some Muslims express Holocaust-denying views in exasperation at the increasing cruelty of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Unable to retaliate in kind, they believe that they can harm Israel symbolically in this way. Others blame all Jews for the actions of the Israeli state.
Doing unto others
It is exactly doing what we, as Muslims, dislike others to do to us: assuming that all Muslims are terrorist and blaming all Muslims for the actions of some individuals.
We should not blame all Jews for the actions of the Israeli army. And we should not let our anger at witnessing the oppression of the Palestinians turn us into Holocaust deniers.
The Prophet Muhammad was once told about the murder of a group of people due to their religious and ethnic background. Upon hearing about it, the Prophet shed tears.
As an imam, I can only imagine the state of the Prophet Muhammad were he told about the mass murder of the Jewish community due to religious persecution.
The month of Ramadan is a month of self-reflection for Muslims. In this period we need to reflect on our relationship with our neighbours.
I also believe that there is a disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred and bigotry. Now, more than ever, people of all faiths must stand together for truth, peace and dialogue.
Tomi Reichental told me that he has never visited a mosque. When I mentioned to him that I would like to invite him to the mosque, he was very excited.
To have Tomi in the mosque this Friday during Ramadan will not only send out a strong message of peace and dialogue to people of all faiths, but at the same time highlight the essential fundamental principles of Islam.
Ramadan is an ideal time for Muslims and non-Muslims to embrace the virtues of tolerance and love.
Dr Umar Al-Qadri is an Islamic theologian, founder of the Al-Mustafa Centre Ireland in Dublin’s Blanchardstown, and a founder-member of the Irish Council of Imams. Ramadan 2015 began last Thursday, June 18th, and continues for 30 days until Friday, July 17th