An Episcopal Priest's Eid
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.
Topics: Festivals (Eid)
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.
Father Rood, Thank you for speaking your mind and May you be on the righteous path.
May the almighty Loard help us to submit ourselves to him.
This is your sister in Islam,
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.
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.
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.
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.
May Allah protect and guide us and show us all the straight path.