Being neighbors with Muslims

The month of Ramadan- a month of fasting for Muslims – has begun.  During Ramadan the faithful fast during the daylight hours and break their fast at night.  The observance of Ramadan is from the new moon to the next new moon.  This year the fast began June 5 and will conclude July 5.

 

As an expression of goodwill to our Muslim neighbors, I wrote the following letter, which quite a few St. Paul’s people signed along with me yesterday at church.  I will deliver it this week to the Whatcom Islamic Center, where I had a warm welcome to Friday prayers last year.

 

The letter reads:

 

Dear friends and neighbors of the Whatcom Islamic Society:


As this holy month of Ramadan has begun, we say to you, “Ramadan Mubarak!”

 

May you all know the deepest blessings of this month of fasting.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

The Rev. Jonathan Weldon, Rector

                and the undersigned members of St. Paul’s

 

If you want to know more about Ramadan, or Islam in general, I can recommend as a starting point this website from The MacDonald Center at Hartford Seminary, as well as their list of other resources which provide a wide array of information about Islam and the relationship of Christianity to Islam.

 

In his book Why Did Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Brian McLaren argues for a “strong-benevolent” Christian faith in our approach to the followers of other religious faiths. I commend this book to you all.  I’ve read it and am re-reading it, finding it timely, and a worthy follow-up to having read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Both of these books would make a wonderful read for your book group, your Cursillo Reunion Group, or any group of friends.  I led a discussion on this book at St. Paul’s in Epiphany and Lent.  Mary Hynes of CBC Radio’s Tapestry interviewed Rabbi Sacks about his book.  You can hear that podcast here.

 

I have set a goal for myself to read through the Q’uran.  I’ve been reading it on Kindle.  This way I will know for myself what it says.

 

If we’re going to love our neighbors as ourselves, we can start by knowing who they are and being neighborly.  Blessings to you in whatever you can do to show love and neighborliness in a time when so many want us to hate and fear our neighbor.