An Episcopal Priest's Eid

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Festivals (Eid) Views: 6884

I celebrated Eid al-Fitir this year, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, at the home of a Muslim family with whom I have grown close in the past few years. The smell of saffron, curry and other spices filled the house as friends and family gathered around a banquet table covered with a plentiful assortment of savory food. Dressed in my priest attire-black shirt with a white collar tab, black sweater, black pants, black shoes and socks-my clothes seemed drab compared to the rich and colorful array of traditional clothing worn by men, women and children, an expression of the gratitude and generosity that is at the heart of this celebration.

Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by fasting, prayer, acts of charity, and celebration of the Qur'an, Islam's most holy book, which was revealed to the prophet Mohammed. It is a time of self-reflection, and abstaining from habits that intrude upon our relationship with God and our fellow human beings, such as backbiting, judgmentalism, and anger. 

Two years ago I began to observe Ramadan in an act of solidarity with the Muslim community. My decision to keep the fast grew out of my concern over the growing prejudice against faithful and peace loving Muslims around the world, especially after the tragedy of 9/11. 

My decision also grew out of the realization that I knew little about a religion that has nearly a billion followers, so I decided to use the time to learn more about the teachings of Islam. I included reading the Qur'an in my devotions during the day. Not only did I read, but I listened regularly to a recording of the Qur'an being recited, the sounds rivaling the sacred music sung in cathedrals the world over. My prayers began each day with the first words of the Qur'an, "In the name of God, the compassionate, the caring..." The essential message of the Qur'an is clear: there is one God, who is infinitely compassionate and just, and we are created to honor and serve God and to be prepared to account for our lives on the Day of Judgment. This message, as well as other sound teachings of the Qur'an, has enriched my own faith.

The most important benefit of my observance of Ramadan has been the sense of being spiritually connected with the Muslim community. During Ramadan I was privileged to join Muslim friends at sun down and celebrate iftar, the breaking of the day's fast, saying prayers and eating special food. I cherish these experiences, as well as the friendships that I have made along the way with members of the Muslim community. I cannot put aside these friendships and the bonds of respect and affection that connect me spiritually to these people, and place them, if only for a moment, outside the Kingdom of God.

 

Father Peter Rood is Rector of the Holy Nativity Parish in Westchester, California.


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  16 Comments   Comment

  1. Rashilah Ismail from USA

    Knowing that Islam is growing fast. Churchgoers was feed with anti-muslim. But Father Rood is different, he took a moment to understand Islam. I wish others would follows his example. May Allah bless him. Alhamdulillah.

  2. Pilli Salim from Tanzania-East Africa

    Alhamdulillah for what is happening.

    We thank you father for your effort of trying to know Islam.

    It is my hope that you will be our advocate to those who think that Islam is evil and cruelty.

    ..

  3. Azman Mohamed Noor from Singapore

    Praise to Allah, I am glad that the blessing of Ramadan has given some light on what Muslims all over the world desire..... understanding of Islam and how it can benefit the world.

    Father Rood, Thank you for speaking your mind and May you be on the righteous path.

  4. Ruchi from India

    Alhamdullilah. This is exactly the kind of interaction and understanding we need today. Thank you, Father Rood, for your inspiring article and your gestures of solidarity. Insh'llah, I hope that this article will encourage not only the people of other faiths to try & understand Islam, but also encourage Muslims to share their experiences and their faith. How can we expect others to understand us if we don't give them any room to do so?

  5. Khalick Limalia from South Africa

    I applaude Father Rood, you are a true friend to the muslims.. I know of two white female christians at my work place who has done exactly what Father Rood has done. i.e. fasted during Ramadaan, read the english version of the quraan, celebrated eid etc. They both were so overwhalmed by the faith and also by what they have read in the quraan, they have now embraced islam. alhamdulillah So father Rood U are a true friend to us all. salaams

  6. FASEEHA NOORDEEN from Sri Lanka

    Alhamdulillah. Dear brother may Allah almighty bless you for your act of friendship with Muslims. We as Muslims love peace and the fellow men and women in the universe and I think you have now experienced that through your thoghtful act during the holy month of Ramdhan. I hope you are a role model for the others for being you in what you have shared with the World and InshaAllah, he'll help you to experience more Eid's in years to come in many parts of the world.

    May the almighty Loard help us to submit ourselves to him.

    This is your sister in Islam,

    FASEEHA NOORDEEN

  7. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    Dear Father Rood

    Your heart is clean to have embraced Muslims as they are, for all of us also believe in the blessed Spirit of God, Jesus, born of blessed Virgin Mary as ordained by God. Thus in believing so, we too are part Christians and as the Quran states Allah makes no distinction between His messengers.

    Truly we are all brothers and the best amongst us are those who obey God and follow His ways. Final judgement is His and His alone. Glory be to Him.

    May peace of Allah be upon you for extending your hand in friendship to Muslims. I pray that we as Muslims learn such lessons from you, insha'Allah.

    Salam alaikum and God be your protector.

  8. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Alhamdulillah! I am so pleased to read this article, it reminds me of how much more work we Muslims have to do in presenting our deen to others the way it has been presented to Father Peter Rood - this is the proper way. May Allah bless him abundently for his eforts to reach out to us, it is a noble thing and shows the love and respect for other religions which many Christians do have. This is truly a great blessing. We should respect it, I do.

    On another note, I recently experienced a vicious attack from a Muslim in another article, telling me that I was not fulfilling my faith completely because I am not in Afghanistan or Iraq or Chechnya fighting taking up arms. It really saddens me that there is so much ignorance prevelant amongst Muslims. When we have the opportunity to affect a change without fighting, this is the way of the Prophet's Sunnah. It really saddens me that this Muslim, who says that she converted 36 years ago, is so filled with rage and anger, that she has lost sight of our true objective as Muslims. We are supposed to convey the message with peace, not hostility. I pray to Allah that she be relieved of her anger and insults to other Muslims. May Allah guide her and may she learn the way of the Sunnah, Insha'Allah ta'Ala.

  9. Khaysuddin Ali from USA

    I applaud Fr. Rood's openness. Truly, humanity his one family and we are not so different. What is more, Islam and Christianity are more akin to one another than they are to any other religion, and there should never be any conflict between them, but an open dialogue that allows for experiences such as Father Rood speaks.

  10. MOHAMMAD SYED from USA

    Dear Fr. Rood

    Thanks so much for being friends with Muslims. Muslims love peace. They want to live in peace with the whole world. In modern times politics, greed, and Muslim's land and resources grab has put Muslims in terrible economic, moral, and political dilemma. If they remain silent they are persecuted, robbed, and deprived. If they fight they are called terrorists. Muslims and Islam have much in common with Christians. I believe Muslims are closest to Christian in faith than people of any other religion. I pray more Christians like you see Islam and Muslims like you do. We want to live in peace if the world let us live. Unfortunately Muslim rulers are chosen by non-Muslims.

  11. Ahmad A. Sbaiti from USA

    I wish people of all faiths would do this: practice the tenets of other faiths to see how close all faiths are. I particularly wish that my Muslim community membes would open up and abandon their insularity to engage peoples from other faiths so they get to know Islam. My hat off to this man of faith.

  12. Vince Abdullah from USA

    Peter Rood, my good brother, may God bless you for your truly courageous and gracious act and your efforts to understand Islam and Muslims, and may he grant you greater wisdom and knowledge. I was Christian Orthodox and worked as a math and science teacher at a Catholic school. It was during a class period when I was sitting in for an absent religion teacher that I got my first glimpse at the philosophy of Islam as exemplified by its true followers. We have a separate program for non-denominational students in that they do not participate in mass or during prayers and may leave the classroom. However there were 4 Muslim students who stood up with the rest of the students at prayer and remained silent standing with their heads bowed. Later on asking one of them why he and his friends chose stay he said out of respect for the Christian beliefs of his fellow students. I was impressed. All this time my image of Muslims was that of intolerant brutes, but this 14 year old not only changed my impression of Muslims but set me on a journey from which I returned, happier, contented, complacent, married and a Muslim. May God grant you good health and greater wisdom?

  13. Zorina Khan from Canada

    If only we can have more of this interaction then maybe this world would be a more habitable place for all of God's creations.

    It is only through knowledge of each other's faith that we can overcome our innate ignorance and hatred.

    Father Peter Rood has transcended against those prejuidces and I salute him for that.

  14. muhammad from Abu Dhabi

    Father Peter must be commended for his effort to come know something about the deen of Islam, but he should also be warned that if he places his own conjectures and beliefs above Allah's revealed Book, then he must ask himself where does he think he will stand on the Day of Judgment?

  15. Saif from US

    May Allah bless Fr. Peter Rood, his actions remind me of the Christians mentioned in the Koran, those who recognize the truth when they hear it. However, no matter how one fasts, or prays, or joins in community activities, the central tenant of Islam is the Oneness of Allah, the rest is a mere extension of this belief. We all are at some point guilty of straying by commiting shirk (association), it may be from love of self, love of wealth, children and in Fr. Rood's case and other Christians from their very strong love for prophet Jesus (peace be on him). I pray for all those pure hearted, exceptional humans among the Christians, whose devotion and charitable works put all others to shame to realize that there is only One essential truth, all encompassing, unfathomable, without beginning, without end. When we limit our Creator by worshipping the creation or when we project human qualities on to the Creator, we essentially limit our ability to achieve the highest attainable state which is innately within us and remain earth bound, existing in a human centric world with all its negative consequences.

    May Allah protect and guide us and show us all the straight path.

    Salaam

  16. Sajjad from Canada

    Mashallah, it is stories like this that encourage muslims to share ramadan with others. Inshallah may Allah give us the bless us all.