I meant to post this at the beginning of Ramadan (also pronounced Ramazan) as I did on Facebook, but got bogged down in a major work project. I'm posting this later in July but back-dating to early July so that it appears when I intended to post it...
To those about to enter the holy month of Ramadan, Ramazan Mubarak!
To those who are not, have a look at the message below the image from Khalvat Dar Anjuman (Ibrahim Baba) about Ramazan with a few thoughts on how to honor and support the observance of Muslim friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and co-workers.
Because the calendar of Islam is a lunar one, Ramazan rotates around the seasons (and thus around the months of the Gregorian calendar). This year in the northern hemisphere, with Ramazan in the summer, the fast from sunrise to sunset, every day for a month, is particularly long and demanding.
We who are not Muslim can learn much from those who are spending this month in the ancient traditions of fasting and prayer, of almsgiving and awareness of common humanity and of the needs of the poor, of gathering for breaking the fast with family and friends, of deepening and re-focusing attention on the All-Merciful, the Creator. Can we, during this month, learn about and from our neighbors? How can we do so without burdening our neighbors, but by taking on some discipline or task ourselves? How can we attune our listening and attention? How will we be challenged to deepen our own walk, our practice, our faith, our ethics? How can we be mindful and compassionate neighbors? How can we learn to be friends on this polyphonic planet Earth?
And here is Ibrahim Baba's message, which I first read on Facebook and which he has given me permission to re-post here. (I have left the lower-case and upper-case spellings as written intentionally by the author.)
on Tuesday, 9 july 2013, many of us will enter into the Sacred Month of Ramazan, the Queen of Months. some of us will be fasting from sunrise to sunset, going about the activities of our day. others will be feeding others as their practice during this sacred time while others will build community in other ways. this is the most precious time of the year for some of us. for some of us it is a time of exceeding joy; for others it is a time of struggle. as any kind of religious time, it brings issues for some, troubling memories or fears of isolation and exclusion. it is also a time of intensifying our efforts for justice, equity, equality, access, accessibility, radical inclusion, etc. through more prayer, more dhikr, more work in our communities, etc.. because we actually have more time as we are not eating throughout the day, lol!
if you are not a muslim and know muslims who are fasting, you can offer to prepare an iftar meal for them at the end of the fasting day or cook something for their pre-dawn meal. or you can invite them to eat somewhere with you. or do something to bring smoothness to their day. for people who work all day during Ramazan, it is nice to not have to worry about their end-of-the fasting day meal (iftar). the iftar meal is often part of a community-gathering, but for some people, certain community-gatherings can be very painful and isolating. so, if you are friends with someone who is fasting and you all are part of a community that is not muslim but which unites and sustains you, perhaps that community could offer an iftar meal in recognition of your friends who are fasting. it is REALLY ROUGH to come home and have an iftar all on your own, especially if you are from a culture or place where Ramazan is a month-long party. If you find out that your friends are lonely and alone, weeping over their dates and a bowl of soup, please see with them what you could do to make some Ramazan community for them.
Greeting: Ramazan mübarek! A blessed Ramazan!
Response: Ramazan karim! A generous Ramazan/a Ramazan of generosity!
and a teaching from Sri Lankan Sufi shaykh, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, from a talk he gave entitled, "What is Ramadan?" http://www.bmf.org/ramadan/ramadan.html