Hungry for Ramadan

Hungry for Ramadan

Ramadan & Rosh Hashanah: A Beautiful Clash of Civilizations

living_logos.jpgOne of the disadvantages (depending on how you look at it) of basing Muslim holidays on a lunar calendar is that Ramadan is always on the move. Islamic holidays move backward at the rate of about 10 days per year with respect to the Gregorian calendar. Five years ago, Ramadan was planted firmly in the wintertime, which meant that fasting could end as early as 4 or 5 pm. In another five, however, Ramadan will encroach on summertime, where days stretch on until 9 pm or later. (I began fasting at age 14, when Ramadan was in the middle of summer, so fasting comes pretty easy for me.)
There is, however, a bright side to this holiday mobility. As Ramadan moves slowly through the calendar year, we have multiple opportunities to share Ramadan with other faith traditions and holidays as their paths cross in time. And each time this happens, there is a bit of cross-pollination that goes on that I believe enriches both traditions.


A few years ago, Ramadan coincided with Thanksgiving, which offered Muslims an opportunity to incorporate thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in America into their Ramadan prayers. Before that, Ramadan was a visible part of the Christmas/Hannukah holiday season for the first time in modern history, which elevated awareness of the holiday in the eyes of our government, the business world, and society at large. And I remember my college days at UC Berkeley, when Muslim students broke their fast at a special Passover seder, with a special haggadah written with Jewish and Muslim traditions in mind.
This Ramadan happily coincides with the start of the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, which I feel is particularly serendipitous because of the similarity of both holidays. Both have a focus on seeking forgiveness and spiritual renewal, and both feature an extended period of soul-searching. And for one day, on Yom Kippur, both Jews and Muslims will be fasting until the sun sets.
I hope both faith communities take this opportunity to share at least part of this time celebrating under one roof. After all, this opportunity only comes around every 33 years. Two years ago, during my last year in graduate school at Georgetown, I organized a joint Rosh Hashana-Ramadan celebration for our fellow students, who enjoyed baklava, apples & honey, stuffed dates, challah, Turkish delight, and Indo-Pakistani sweets in between classes. It went over very well and help bond our communities together.
L’Shanah Tovah and Ramadan Mubarak! May both our peoples be blessed!

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posted September 13, 2007 at 2:08 pm

I agree that there is poetic beauty in the shared holiday times. However, I am also aware that fasting can make people grumpy, and that when people are grumpy they do not make the best, or most well thought through decisions. My hope is that the peace and joy of the holidays will surpass their grumpiness.
Both Rosh Hoshanah and Ramadan are celebrations of beginnings. Let these holidays in 2007 celebrate a new beginning, new appreciation, and renewed respect for each other in all traditions and religions.

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posted September 13, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Nice point about the “opportunity” of bumping into other holidays…
Great to see this blog Shahed!

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posted September 13, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Hey, don’t knock it! Now you have the Jewish controlled media talking about Ramadan! :)
God works in mysterious ways (always good)

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posted September 14, 2007 at 5:57 am

Greetings on the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan! I just stumbled on this site today and I thought i stumbled into Utopia at Web 2.0 or second life where all belief could co exist in peaceful co-existence!
Sites such us this brings us all a gift of relief specially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Relief from war and hatred. I wish you would be blessed to continue writing on the website.

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posted September 14, 2007 at 6:34 am

As a Spiritual exercise fasting and the provision of it should be kept without outward ‘indicators’ to draw attention to oneself. The rewards from G-d will be manifest for the edification of the faithful and at His discreation to reveal it or not. Assuming God’s response to how we charcterize our self can fill us with the kind of pride that can undermine the truth of worship [His Glory]. The trappings of holiness are all around us let us be prudent to the continuity of it all, love does not oppress, kindness is God’s greatest intent toward us, obedience is the reverence we have to honor G-d, Mercy and justice are the guides to reveal G-d in us, equity and grace patiently administer the corrections which strengthen us in holinewss.
Blessing to all in the name of the CreatorKing.

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posted September 14, 2007 at 10:08 am

Well said, Mr. Amanullah. I offer this question posed of the Dalai Lama by Asra Q Nomani: “…what can our leaders do to transcend the issues of power that turn people of different religions against each other?”
He replied, “There are three things we must do. Read the scholars of each other’s religions. Talk to the enlightened beings of each other’s religions. Finally, do the pilgrimages of each other’s religions.”

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posted September 14, 2007 at 10:19 am

Thanks again.
In response to a question from Muslim American journalist Asra Nomani about how to end the divisions between religions, the Dalai Lama replied: “Read the scholars of each other’s religions. Talk to the enlightened beings of each other’s religions. And, make the pilgrimages of each other’s religions.”
The church year whether it is Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, including Ramadan, Lent, or Rosh Hashanah, is just such a pilgrimage.

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posted September 17, 2007 at 12:33 pm

When God created Esau and Jacob, did he intend for them to separate? Why did He not stop Cain and Abel from separating? Are we not all our brothers and sisters keepers? What did our Father want us to learn about these terrible separations? As to Islam, so to Judaism. As to Judaism, so to Islam. As to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, so to Abraham. May we salute each other, and be grateful that we can truly learn from each other. And, maybe this year will truly be a Merry Christmas. In the heart of God’s Love and the Soul of God’s Creation of Life, Amen.

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Charles Laster

posted November 6, 2007 at 3:58 pm

this site is one of the reason I’m grateful for the internet–to meet and dialogue with those of many faith. Glad to see an affirmative view of Islam, instead of the extremist view one gets from the media.

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posted November 22, 2007 at 11:32 pm

love god
honor the brotherhood
fear the wraith of god

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