Interfaith Solidarity During Ramadan

Brian McLaren, the great Christian writer and activist, called me up a few weeks ago with a remarkable request: Would … Continued

Brian McLaren, the great Christian writer and activist, called me up a few weeks ago with a remarkable request: Would I be his fasting partner during Ramadan? He explained to me that there was a long-held Christian tradition of fasting, although it is not practiced much in contemporary Christian communities. Brian’s goal was to live more fully into that Christian tradition during Ramadan, while also feeling solidarity with Muslim communities.

There are a number of Christians Brian knows who are doing this. As he writes in his blog: “We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness. Each of us will have at least one Muslim friend who will serve as our partner in the fast. These friends welcome us in the same spirit of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.”

I shared the story with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the beginning of Ramadan, and he told me that he was reading a book about the Judeo-Christian tradition of fasting, and learning a great deal from it.

Then I heard that many of the non-Muslim FaithsAct Fellows (a joint program of the Interfaith Youth Core and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation), are fasting together. That is truly remarkable. These young people are currently on an interfaith fellowship in Africa, working with Christians and Muslims in health clinics that prevent and treat malaria.

In his beautiful video message on Ramadan, President Obama spoke of the particular Muslim practice of Ramadan (the additional nightly prayers, the belief that this is the month when the Qur’an was revealed), but also of the common tradition of fasting across religions – how it is meant to bring us closer to God, and to remind us of those who cannot take their next meal for granted.

Shaykh Hamza told me during our conversation, “Eboo, the walls are falling, the barriers are breaking.” I hope so. I hope this interfaith solidarity during Ramadan is a sign of the times. I pray that we are moving towards a world in which people are rooted in their own traditions but find dimensions to admire and learn from in others, that Ramadan is a time during which people from a variety of backgrounds come together in the common purpose of growing closer to God and one another. That is the heart of Islam, of all of our faiths and traditions.

(Read my NPR piece on Ramadan)

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  • ccnl1

    Christians like to party all night too!! Gets “em” ready for Lent which really is not a fast anymore either with the changes in the rules (fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence from meat on the Fridays of Lent).”Ramadan is a time during which people from a variety of backgrounds come together in the common purpose of growing closer to God and one another”. Give us a break!!!The true Islam:(for those eyes that have not seen)-Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels” and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. This agenda continues as shown by the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.Current crises:The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

  • Prasad_mysore

    I wonder how many Moslems have the “real” intent to fast along during Lent or observe traditions along with Christians or Hindus??

  • csintala79

    A recurring theme among several of the comments is that Muslims are only interested in a one way inter-faith dialogue, e.g., they are happy to have those of other religions participate in their traditions but not vice versa. This position is a generalization that implies all Muslims share the same interpretation of the faiths fundamental beliefs. This is no truer than ignoring the wide diversity of expressions of faith in Christianity which range from extreme fundamentalists handling poisonous snakes, drinking poisons, and speaking in tongues to extremely liberal Christians not being certain of the divinity of Christ. Every major religion has comparable extremes that diverge from orthodoxy. Many Christians will deny this, but this can only be justified by them ignoring the many particular examples of Christian intolerance (e.g., Catholic priest and nuns inciting Hutus to slaughter Tutsis in Rwanda), reversing the argument that all Muslims are intolerant because some are but all Christians are reasonable and tolerant because most are. This is a specious and illogical position; there is as much ignorance of and bias towards other religions among Christians as there is within any other faith. Christians can make no claim that they are morally superior; Christ’s promise of salvation is not to those who are morally superior but to those who recognize their depravity. Self righteous Christians just don’t get it; Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”. We all sinners and all fall far short of meeting God’s expectations for behavior. No one’s salvation is certain. Merely claiming to be a Christian and public profession of that faith is not enough, especially when one directs enmity and hatred towards others, for whatever reason.

  • TAH1

    Islam sucks. Women and children are abused.Wash Post Stop pandering. The idea of “fasting partners” is silly.It’s long past time to convert them all to Christianity and Western ways. The world would be a better place for all.

  • FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER

    I would like to share two points with readers, the first purely spiritual and the second very much political and pragmatic.To grasp the full extent to which the spiritual sharing of perennial values among Muslims and Christians (and indeed all peoples of the Almighty’s creation) has developed, one should read Louis Massignon’s transhistorical analysis of the life of the late-9th century Persian Sufi mystic Mansour Al Hallaj. I don’t know if an English translation exists, but the French reference is “Perspective Transhistorique sur la vie de Hallaj,” in: Parole donnée. Paris 1983: Seuil, p. 73-97.On the second, more practical point of interfaith understanding, there currently is a heart-warming pattern of choreographed change in international diplomacy going on (messy on the surface while the process of change is ongoing, but exquisitely orderly in the underlying choreography)that seeks to elicit the best from the political leaders and peoples of the various major world faiths. The call by former Iranian President Rafsanjani on the first day of Ramadan for all Iranians to support the newly-flexible-and- innovative approach of Supreme Leader Khamenei combined with Ahmadi-Nejad’s inclusion of no less than three women in his cabinet and a tentative though aborted nomination of an Israel-friendly Vice President is a case in point. The scope of the positiveness of this development should be assessed with Al Baradei’s bending to Western pressure to include harsher-than-warranted criticism of Iran’s nuclear programme in the IAEA’s report: this is substitute appeasement offered to Israel for the botching of the appointment of the Israeli-friendly VP in Iran. Such trade-off would hopefully help the Israeli political leadership tune down its anti-Iran domestic and international fearmongering. Similarly, China has released one of the most visible human rights lawyer-activist along with a Uighur activist. The release from Scottish jails of the Lockerbie-bomb-accused Libyan, Al Meghrahi, and the tone-down of initial soundbites of defiance by Seif-Al Islam Gaddafi combined with the presence in the upcoming AU Summit in Libya of the Presidents of France and Italy alongside many African Heads of State are further elements of this choreography of international diplomatic harmonization. On this tentht day of Ramadan, let those Christians and Muslims who are joining in fasting offer a special prayer for human kind to allow their hearts to be filled with the spirit of compassion that Mansour Al Hallaj so profoundly espoused and that Louis Massignon so successfully popularised in the West.

  • FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER

    KITTY MEREDITH, PRASAD_MYSORE, CHANDRAGUPTA,Thanks a lot to Kitty for her excellent comment, and thumbs-down to Prasad and Chandragupta. All three of you, and all readers who are interested, would benefit from watching the (admittedly heavy-going and long) interviews of physicist Polkinghorne and of religion expert Karen Armstrong, among others, posted at the following website of meaningoflife tv

  • kittymeredith

    THE PEOPLE WHO POSTED THE ABOVE COMMENTS SHOULD READ “MUHAMMAD” AND/OR “ISLAM” BY KAREN ARMSTRONG (A CHRISTIAN, FORMER NUN, WHO IS A HIGHLY REGARDED RESEARCHER AND HISTORIAN). THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THESE SUBJECTS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES, AND THE PROMULGATION OF MYTHS AND OUT RIGHT LIES, SERVE ONLY TO INFLAME PREJUDICES. BTW, I AM CHRISTIAN. I AM ALSO AN AVID READER OF NONFICTION ACCOUNTS OF HISTORY, AND I HAVE TRAVELED IN NUMEROUS COUNTRIES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE ARE MUSLIM.

  • hsnkhwj

    To our Hindu Poster Friends:I grew up in India and remember celebrating Diwali and Holi and joining in celebrations with my childhood Hindu friends.I used to invite my Hindu friends on Eid and used to send meat to their homes on Eidul-Adha.This relationship evolved gradually. At first, my Hindu friends were reluctant to come to our house due to the restrictions of not accepting food from Muslims. That changed gradually.All my circle of friends were Hindu. I was the only Muslim in that circle. But most of my friends were very protective of me during communal tensions. This was 50 years ago.I have fond memories of those days.I do not know how things are there today. But unfortunately, some Hindu posters here are not as understanding as my childhood friends were.

  • hsnkhwj

    A Hindu lady from Gujarat in our neighborhood observed us for a while. One day, she rang the bell. My wife invited her in. She needed to earn some money to have some cash for herself. She lives with her married son.She comes once in a while to help my wife in household chores. She is very respectful and polite. But she will not eat our food. Theoretically, that attitude of not accepting our food, is not acceptable. It is discriminatory. But we showed our understanding, knowing she can not change. She belonged to a different generation and background.

  • edbyronadams

    I only eat one meal during the daylight hours during Ramadan. I consider it a symbol of my half fast support of Islam.

  • FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER

    To FEDUPINDIAN,Below is a part of an opinion piece that I published in a newspaper of my country of origin, Mauritius, following the visit there of an internationally respected Sanskrit and Vedantic scholar, Swami Dyanand Saraswati. I am Muslim. “My first methodical cogitation about Hiduism started with my reading, at age 15, of Sir S. Radhakrishnan’s small but wisdom-dense 1926 booklet on Hinduism, The Hindu View of Life. I was left bemused at the apparent disconnect between the spirituality of Radhakrishnan’s conception of the Hindu religion and the immediate animism of the polytheistic tradition of Hindu practice that, since childhood, I had observed my compatriots to be devoted to. At university in the early 1970’s, I read Robert Persig’s cult book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and his supremely enlightened discussion of the Vedic lesson Tat Tvam Asi. That experience made me very pleased with myself that perhaps, just perhaps, I had gleaned an exquisitely beautiful aspect of the Hindu religion by reading Radhakrishnan’s book at a tender age that even my most devout and highly-educated Hindu friends from India who had come to do their Ph.D.’s in Canada or were already university professors, had not fully grasped. Thereafter, I got to read books about and by S. Ramanujan on both Mathematics and Hinduism; I got to read about Erwin Schroedinger’s analyses of particle physics phenomena, especially quantum mechanics but also his writings on theology and his special attachments to Hindu philosophy which, he found, contained seeds of cutting-edge theories in particle physics that hinted at the possible existence of multiple universes and what today is know as M-Theory or String Theory. The cogitations that were triggered in my subconscious by these readings allowed me to reconcile the false dichotomy I had found between the apparent animism of everyday polytheistic Hindu practice and the transcendence of the spirituality that is the essence of Hindu faith”.

  • homeland1

    JPOST.COM: “ASSAD (SYRIA) sais, “NO-THANKS”?Assides ASSAD, the Monarch; The World must ask, “WHAT iS A SYRiAN?” Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire (but politically independent from each other): Judaea, later renamed Palaestina in AD 135 (the region corresponding to modern day Israel, Jordan, and Palestinian Territories) in theContinued: “…. From#7; For the Same reason Today that RUSSIA’s, Syria’s Pal’s, on the Defensive about their WW2 PACT w/NAZi HITLER, permitting the Invasion of Poland & Thus condoning WWII & Purges, aka MASS MURDERS, therein or at; THAT the same reason apply’s to the BRITISH whom spoiled everything in past Middle-East; after conquering IsLAMIC Turkey/Ottomans +/- 1918; includes the CEASARings of ROMAN empire land-grabbings135 AD or the “SON-of-MAN”, not JESUS or SETH (Osiris son), via ALEXander The King Macedon GREEK 320 BC, includes Emperor CYRUS the Great Farsi-iRaqi 545 BC et al WAR MONGERING-SPOILER’s!—

  • homeland1

    Continued: From: JPOST.COM;”FACT:”G-D” or “iSHVARA” et al, a/k/a by “manymanymany-NAMES” (not only by 99 or 1000..) is NOT-NO neither a “HE” Nor a “SHE” but only an “IT” being “iTSELF” in and out of US ALL, EVERY & ANYvia “IT”s own ‘Animate & Inanimate” Stuff & Things! Soooo, Please: Stop Sounding So PROUD, as if YE (not OUR) god(s) is better than His/Her goid(s) System! FACT: Today, anyone who sincerely sais, “i [WE] JUDEO Abe-JU’s, are “… god(s) Chosen People…” & not/No the “GOYs” aka KAF{FIR aka HERETIC, GENTILES, Non-Believers et al, has a serious case of “Religious Jealousy Psychosis” & “PRE-Apocalyptic-SiNdrome!”+ — Like EX-iDOL Worshiping Pagan Middle-Easterners suddenly converting, forced or not, into JUDEO-ABE-iSLAMICism, THAT ALL, EVERY & ANY “SABRA”National {Modern iSraeli [Apocalyptically aware], not ancient [Pre-Apocalyptic aware]} must say, “WE ARE BORN in MIRACLE NOT-SiN & “WE ARE NATURALLY-SELECTED” &NOT god(s) CHOSEN PEOPLE Anymore”! & best of all, say, “WE are “HUeMATE(s) kinds & notNo-more HUMAN(s) unkinds! SO the “SABRA-NATION” via SECULAR RULE OF GOVERNING (not HALAKAH nor SHARIA nor CASTE nor APARTHID or DHIMMiization) must Prevail/Win against their, notOUR, SATANIC VERSUS!….” “……….”

  • flyersout

    Fasting IS a wonderful RELIGIOUS tradition. It can range from complete starvation for the mostOn the annual day of fasting in my

  • rwat

    While the words don’t appear in the article itself, I do wonder about the trailer on the front page: Christians are joining Muslims to fast during Ramadan. It’s a story you could only find in AmericaActually, it’s a story you’ll find all over the world, and especially in Europe. As with the US, Europe is rife with racial, ethnic, and religious tension, as well as debates on immigration, but also as with the US, many post-war Western European countries are multi-ethnic and highly diverse societies.You only have to visit London, Manchester, Paris, Copenhagen, or Amersterdam to see churches, mosques, and synagogues in close proximity, and a vibrant cultural exchange is visible to any listener of modern European pop music. A younger generation is embracing a Europe without border controls, being brought up speaking many languages and knowing about many cultures.Of course, many of the historic stresses still exist, or are being brought out further by economic recession, especially with respect to nomadic people (travelers) throughout Europe.

  • FedUpIndian

    Hsnkhwj,

  • ATLRAMA

    Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists joining Muslims during Ramadan fasting is not surprising. What would be really surprising (but I highly doubt whether it would happen) is if Muslims, in large numbers, join Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists in celebrating Easter, Hannukah, Diwali and Buddha Poornima.

  • JohninMpls

    The Muslim Student Association has a fastathon every year during Ramadan. People of all faiths are encouraged to participate. At the end of the day, there’s a dinner and a discussion.And it’s not just Christians joining Muslims. I’m an atheist, and I participated.(We can be pretty tolerant, too.)

  • davidmatthews

    i find that Ibrahim is trying his best to promote the view that all is well between Muslims and Christians. but this is far from the truth. there is still a great deal of resentment among Muslims in the US against their Christian, Jewish and Hindu neighbors. moderate and progressive Muslims must fight against the growing push for Shariah and they must prevent the formation of an insular and fundamentalist US Muslim community.

  • jim4postnatl

    Most Christian Americans should be looking for a reason to fast, both for spiritual reasons and to lose a few pounds. I’d love it if Muslim friends invited me over though for an evening feast!

  • chatard

    It is amazing how you people get all caught up in whatever the topic is in this column and fail to see that it has nothing to do with faith but is all about destroying the Christian faith. Eboo Patel is from Chicago. Eboo Patel works for Barack Obama. Quinn and Meacham also work for Barack Obama. Rodney King, the Devil and interfaith Muslims just want everybody to get along, Don’t they? The next way to show how you don’t hate Muslims will be to start politely asking your wives to cover themselves in public. Nothing wrong with that, right?

  • zebra4

    I read your comment with chagrin. This line of arguing is non-productive. It has led to dirty and filthy punches and counterpunches on this board in the past. I must confess I also counterpunched just to make people realize that Hindus are also not so innocent as they claim.It is wise not to enter into foray again with anybody. What has happened in the past on this board– some mentioning the cruelties of the Hindu caste system, the bride burnings and Sati as examples. It is not a pretty picture.I agree with you that there is a need for reform in the Muslim societies. But Hindu beliefs, practices, world view also need reform.If you simply say that Hindus are tolerant people and Christians and Muslims are not your credibility will not enhance.

  • kittymeredith

    I SUGGEST THAT ALL NON-MUSLIM AMERICANS READ “MUHAMMED” AND “ISLAM” BOTH WRITTEN BY A CHRISTIAN (FORMER NUN) AND HIGHLY REGARDED HISTORIAN, KAREN ARMSTRONG. THESE BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE IN MANY PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND WOULD DISABUSE THE ANTI-MUHAMMED AND ANTI-ISLAM COMMENTATORS WITH FACTS TO REPLACE THE FICTIONS THEY NOW PROPOGATE.

  • sperrico

    Abstaining from even drinking water during daylight in the hottest season of the year for the Northern Hemisphere is nuts.

  • kittymeredith

    THERE ARE TOO MANY ERRORS IN THE ABOVE POSTS FOR ME TO ADDRESS DIRECTLY. I RECOMMEND THAT ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN THE TRUTH AS OPPOSED TO FICTION, READ “MUHAMMAD’ AND/OR “ISLAM”, BOTH BOOKS WRITTEN BY KAREN ARMSTRONG WHO IS A CHRISTIAN (A FORMER ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN) AND A HIGHLY REGARDED HISTORIAN OF RELIGION.BY THE WAY, I AM NOT A MUSLIM.

  • probashi

    Fasting periodically is a good practice, and many can benefit from it. Most of us consume a lot more food than necessary to maintain a healthy body.But let us keep religion out of it. The fast by Muslims during Ramadan does nothing to change their world view and archaic practices. A few Christians and people of other faiths joining Muslims in fast. So what?

  • chandragupta

    Here we go again. Another piece of shallow mush from the “misunderstood” and the “hijacked”. Let’s all fast together and we’ll be a world of saints and angels. Would Eboo Patel and his gang, for that is what they are, celebrate Diwali or Christmas, Hanukah or Budha Jayanti? No because then you are celebrating the “infidels” religions. They first need to clean up their own “religion” and acknowledge it is evil. If they were honest they’d renounce it but that takes courage and intelligence. Not a lot of intelligence just average intelligence. If fasting solved the world’s problems we would have been a very advanced civilization. We have to stop pandering to Islam and demand they change their ways. At the very least stop giving them publicity!

  • accha

    I have to agree strongly with the posters above that both the article itself and the lede (“Christians are joining Muslims to fast during Ramadan. It’s a story you could only find in America”) are extremely misleading, in addition to pointlessly nationalistic. A long history of Christianity and Islam co-habiting and in some places actually exchanging practises such as prostration and bowing on rugs during prayer (still practiced in some eastern Orthodox congregations and perhaps the origin of the Muslim custom) is the fact. These two religions have done much more than share key figures like Isa (Jesus) and Ibrahim, or tolerate each other over the past millenium-plus. US Christians fasting on Ramadan are actually joining their co-religionists in many countries. A deeper familiarity with or reference to the history of so-called eastern Christianity, and the Ottoman empire in particular, would help the author specify more clearly that this fasting is occuring among US-based Christian evangelicals and THAT is perhaps what’s new. Though his evidence is anecdotal, the story cheers us in the sense that tolerance lives on and is well in some parts of the world less aquainted with the history or tolerant traditions of its own religions.

  • ccnl1

    Mat. 24:10-14 as per many contemporary NT and historic Jesus experts, Jesus did not utter this passage. They are simply more words put into the mouth of a simple preacher man aka Jesus to convert him into a prophesying deity which he was not. e.g.

  • Navin1

    Islam can be considered tolerant when Hindus, Buddhists, animists, et al can worship freely in Mecca (and the other islam majority states). All else is rationalization.I have been to Passover, christmas, easter, ramadan. How many muslims will admit to bowing before a Hindu idol? One commenter says s/he took meat to Hindus on Eid. What if a Hindu took pork to them on Holi, would he tolerate that?Islam demands special status. It is not that it want equal rights with other religions, It wants equal rights when it is in the minority (though in India they have more property and personal rights than Hindus). It want to suppress the rights of minorities when it is in the majority. Sorry, if the history is to be the judge, tolerance is a rare thing in the Islamic ideology. I am American. Pragmatism of the Henry James type says, show me and I’ll believe it; talk’s cheap. I hope EP is out getting a muslim referendum to allow Hindus, et al equal rights to worship freely in Mecca, to abolish the caste of male/female in Islam, to stop denigrating infidels… If not, it is all rationalization.hariaum

  • salero21

    Mat. 24:10-14 as per many contemporary NT and historic Jesus experts, Jesus did not utter this passage. They are simply more words put into the mouth of a simple preacher man aka Jesus to convert him into a prophesying deity which he was not. Posted by: ccnl1 | August 31, 2009 4:54 PMSure, if you believe that I can sell you the Brooklyn bridge. You’re always quoting some “expert”, seems to me you don’t have your own opinion. Or maybe you and the “experts” took a ride in the imaginary Time Machine to be able to make such a statement. Wow I’m so impressed! I took a look at the dimwit site just out of courtesy and don’t find what you mentioned. But it is completely irrelevant to me because the Test of a Prophecy is if did come to pass or not. If it is happening or not. Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. He said what He said, and a blind can tell that those things He said are coming to pass and are happening right before our eyes. This article and the subject matter of it, is proof of it.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Shaykh Hamza told me during our conversation, “Eboo, the walls are falling, the barriers are breaking.” Really? Does this mean that the three million exiled Jews from the Middle East will be permitted to return? Will their property be given back to them? Will the government run newspapers stop printing along the lines of Die Sturmer?Will the Tunisian, Egyptian, Morroccan, Iranian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Yemeni, Syrian Jews be allowed to rebuild their synagogues?Will makeshift grave sites of murdered Jews be revealed so that their families may bury them properly?The family of Ismael, murdered in front of me when I was a girl in Iran, would like to know. They’d like to know, Eboo.Eboo, Christians aren’t fools. They are aware of the persecution of Christians in Iran, in Pakistan, where they don’t live long, in Syria, and etc.YOu won’t win them with cant. Killing while whispering sweetly won’t win their hearts. Too many bodies make it hard for them to be deceived. Of course, you either ignore us Jews or villify us. That doesn’t help your cause much either.Perhaps, you consider a more constructive approach, one that admits the humanity of all of us.

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, the probability waves (Zebra4, Homeland1, hsnkhwj and ?) are out in force this evening. Be cautious in communicating with them. You can get washed overboard into sea of deception.

  • theRealCalGal

    Seems to me that cross-culturally, fasting is done just before the growing season. Getting rid of that cabin-fever gut, getting ready to go to work plowing those fields and growing the food to get you through the next down time.In Europe, that means you fast after the winter shut-in time. In Arabic and similar over-heated summer places, you fast in the fall just before the rains come and it cools down enough to get back to work.So unless you live in the desert, fasting now doesn’t make much sense. To fast “in solidarity” with someone 180 degrees out is intellectual game playing.

  • fireofhiseyes

    Thank you Eboo Patel and Brian McLaren, for showing us what is possible. No one here seems to understand that Eboo Patel is an Ismaili Muslim – representative of a most tolerant and spiritually deep strain of Islam. But worse, I see here the endless cant from ignorant voices about negative verses of the Qur’an (almost all mistranslated or totally taken out of context) and the fallacious belief that all Muslims want to kill those who believe differently. This simply isn’t true. The Bible has verses of this kind also; and there are extremist Jews and Christians who focus on and try to implement them. But characterizing any religion by negative and extreme acts carried out by a few in its name distorts the picture of that religion and what the majority of its members practice.What I find interesting is that hatred of Islam seems to make extreme nationalists, militant atheists, and fundamentalist Christians into bedfellows.In the Nahju’l-Balagha , Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad, said: “Remember that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you. And those who have religions other than yours, they are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to, they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect God to show mercy and forgiveness to you.”This is the epitome of the teaching of Islam in its early days and especially the spiritual principles of the Qur’an such as: “A kind speech and forgiveness is better than alms followed by injury. God is Rich, Clement.” (2:265)It is the message of the golden rule, which is the central teaching of every religion – including Islam.Lest anyone think that this writer is engaged in some special pleading, know that I am a Baha’i. Just because an Islamic religious establishment in Iran persecutes Baha’is, this does not mean that the divine mission of Muhammad is invalidated or the Qur’an any less the Word of God.

  • EddietheInfidel

    fireofhiseyes writes:”But worse, I see here the endless cant from ignorant voices about negative verses of the Qur’an (almost all mistranslated or totally taken out of context) and the fallacious belief that all Muslims want to kill those who believe differently.”It is indeed important to remember that it is a minority of Muslims that act upon the more violent verses of the Koran, Hadith and Sunnah.However, it is not “the endless cant from ignorant voices” from non-Muslim “Islamophobes” who have originally cited these verses as justification for Muslim behavior. The “Islamophobes”, instead, are merely pointing out the many instances in daily news reports where these self-styled followers of “true Islam” have themselves referenced these verses from their core texts to justify their holy mandate against Jews, gays, women and non-believers.I respect Mr. Patel’s views and opinions regarding his religion, but he’s not the one I’m worried about. His views regarding Islam evidently don’t match those of many of his co-religionists in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Sudan and Somalia.Perhaps he should spend less time trying so hard to convince us non-Muslims that Islam is benign and peaceful, and more time trying to convince his fellow Muslims of the idea.

  • salero21

    .salero21, salero21, salero21,And what would you find if you take an honest look in a mirror? Btw I can also sell you the Eiffel tower. 😀 :-D.

  • LGilman

    A good piece, a sane piece. The whacky, fierce, self-righteous, simplistic hysteria of so many of the comments is depressing. I am glad to learn of solidarity fasting during Ramadan and will seriously consider participating (from the Christian side) next year. Thank you, Mr. Patel.

  • coloradodog

    Why not? Christians and Muslims are more alike than either care to admit. They share the same Abrahamic traditions: intolerance, arrogance, exclusion, war, greed, torture, discrimination and hypocrisy.

  • ccnl1

    Salero, Salero, Salero,Obviously your mirror shows that you are suffering from the Three B Syndrome i.e. you were Bred, Born and Brainwashed in some form of Christianity. Tis a common disease but easily cured by reading some contemporary books about the historical Jesus.