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“May each year find you well.”
We are in the midst of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month which began Wednesday. It is a time in Muslim tradition when religious Muslims work to increase their spirituality and practice self-restraint; pray, and give to charity; avoid speaking ill of others.
Along with these goals, which mirror what most religions encourage, Muslims are to abstain from eating, drinking or smoking during daylight hours throughout the month. (In Alaska, land of the midnight sun, the faithful could have difficulty fasting from sunup until sundown, so for fasting purposes, mosques base “sunrise” and “sunset” on times in Mecca. Fasting hours today, for instance, begin at 4:20 a.m. and end at 7:07 p.m. at the Islamic Community Center in Anchorage, which posts daily fasting hours on its website.)
Even with the fasting, Ramadan is considered festive as well as holy; it is a month-long holiday.
We know what our holidays mean to us. So our hearts ache for the faithful who practice their religion in Syria, for example, where the scourge of violence overshadows all else. People who might usually mark the end of the fast with a lavish meal are reduced to begging for crumbs to have anything to eat at all. It is Syria’s third year of nearly constant bloodshed.
Just as Christians would seek to celebrate their Christmas holidays with a backdrop of peace on Earth, so would Muslims. Those of us who pray — whatever our religion — pray fervently that by the end of Ramadan and the feast of Eid Al-Fitr, our Muslim brothers and sisters, too, will find peace on Earth, and see the possibility of their prayers and sacrifice coming to fruition.
Perhaps next year, Syrian Muslims will be able to voice the traditional greeting, “Kul sana wa inta bekhair” (May each year find you well) with new enthusiasm and hope for themselves and their children.