If people who cherish freedom, who know the importance of mutual respect and are aware of the imperative necessity to establish a constructive and critical debate, if these people are not ready to speak out, to be more committed and visible, then we can expect sad, painful tomorrows. Tariq Ramadan
For the past week Moslems around the world have observed the traditions of Ramadan. Because the dates of Ramadan are based on the lunar Islamic calendar those who follow the sun-based Gregorian calendar are often confused by the movable feast. The confusion extends to the cultural and religious traditions – especially fasting – that are shrouded in ignorance as well as mystery.
My understanding of Ramadan is influenced by time spent in Abu Dhabi as librarian at an exemplary women’s college designed to create a liberal learning experience for young Emirati women. The experience of Ramadan at Zayed University reminded me of spiritual retreats that were a feature of my Catholic school experience. For these beautiful young Moslem women, Ramadan was a quiet time, a time to reflect, to share, to make amends, to create a peaceful environment in one’s home, community, college and the world. For me Ramadan fosters thoughts of quiet generosity, love and an aura of deep peace.
In past years I’ve thought and written a good deal about those memories and learnings. We all need to better understand that there’s more to Ramadan than fasting! More important, we need to comprehend the deep meaning of the act of fasting. And so I re-share those posts:
As I observe the hijabs on the little girls at my grandson’s park I realize how important it is for children to know more about Moslem culture. Ramadan presents a good time to teach some of the basics: Recently I came across this excellent piece about books that teach young children about Ramadan. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/06/02/teach-your-kids-about-ramadan-with-these-books/?utm_term=.97fe23d42cb5
Just recently I spotted this bit of local lore that reflects our regional heritage of inclusion: America’s first mosque was built by Lebanese immigrants in North Dakota in the 1920s. The mosque was torn down in the 1970s and later replaced. What’s believed to be the oldest surviving mosque in the U.S. was constructed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the 1930’s. httpwww.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan
That spirit lives on in countless ways in this community. Resources abound: Just one of the many worthy of mention is the Islamic Resource Center, a nonprofit committed “to build bridges of understanding between Minnesota Muslims and the broader Minnesota community through education. Check them out – their website will lead you to many more resources for learning: http://irgmn.org/introduction-to-irg/