Respect, love and understanding
Yesterday as I prepared for today’s celebrations of Eid-Ul-Fitr I looked into my daily journal and realized that it had fallen on the same day the Jewish New Year. I could not help but pause for a moment and pray that one-day sooner than later this time of the year could be marked by a period of tolerance that would lead to peace.
There is nothing wrong with religion. Indeed it governs our cultures and our laws. The problem is us those who preach it and attempt to live it. It should be so simple but alas Allah has created all so differently.
What makes a Pastor want to burn the Qur’an or for people to take the actions of a single person or group of people to represent an entire faith and then seek some form of retribution against innocent people. At this time we have another chance to unify and be strong as we celebrate to happy and momentous time.
I am an Anglican and yet Bishop Akrofi aside I consider the Imam in Kumasi and the Chief Imam in Accra (who named me Abdullah) to be my friends. Indeed the Imam in Kumasi advised me throughout my tenure as Chairman and later Chief Executive of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Once again in sharing my respects and happiness I have once again turned to two people whom I consider to be friends. To give a greater insight into this occasion. I’zac Hassan is a brilliant scholar and in my mind philosopher who unusually born a Muslim converted to Christianity and my old friend Mustapha Yusif. I’zac successfully and educatively draws significant parallels between the two religions in a way which is pleasing to see and Mustapha highlights the historical beauty of this important occasion.
HAPPY EID-UL- FITR – I’zac Hassan
O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of Allah’s signs, that they may take heed. [7:26]
Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not rebuke them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little’. [17:23-4].
As Muslims all over the world, celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated after fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims after performing the obligatory fasting of a month become more deserving of Allah’s forgiveness and protection from Hell. Thus, Allah has specified for the Muslims upon their completion of fasting, a festive day in which you gather to thank Allah, glorify and praise Him. Allah allocated also on that day for Muslims to offer specific prayer (Salat-ul-Eid) and a specified offertory (sadaqah).
The day of Eid is a great and glorious day. It is an occasion of happiness and joy. Muslims’ joy and happiness in this world is felt when you apply all efforts to obey Allah and perform good deeds that gain reward and success in the Hereafter. The month of daily fasting is not only a sacred duty, it is also a powerful teaching, and in many ways a gift of Islam to the rest of the world, reminding not only Muslims, but all our people, of our shared values and obligation to alleviate the suffering of those who live in poverty and deprivation. The reminder here reiterated, is that we all endeavour to build a more humane community, nation and world.
The Christian Bible says that people should love their neighbour as themselves. But it’s quite refreshing to note from the Quran that ‘Allah created the nations and tribes that they might know one another better, recognizing people on how they organize their thoughts and categorize their ideas, but that does not mean we should be divided one from another. Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake and finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between leaders, but an ongoing communal discourse at all levels off our society. As we celebrate this festive occasion, may the spirit of (not the letter) Ramadan endure the whole year round.
It is important to observe also that there is so much our nation and the world at large could learn from Islam. It (Islam) is now practiced by one of every four people on Earth. Muslims are at cornerstone of our Ghanaian community. They enrich our political and cultural life, they provide leadership in every field of human endeavour, from business to medicine, to scholarship. It is important that we as a people appreciate that we all share common aspirations for a better future, for greater opportunities for our children, for the importance of work and family and freedom to worship.
But like other groups past and present in, Ghanaian Muslims also have faced from time to time — and continue to face, sadly, from time to time – discrimination and intolerance. There are still too many of us who know too little about Islam. And sadly stereotypes fill the vacuum ignorance creates. That kind of bigotry is wrong and has no place in the little space we share together as a society. There is no place for intolerance against people of any faith — against Muslims or Jews or Christians, or any other religious group: tribal or ethnic.
So on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr may we rededicate ourselves in this coming year to making sure that others in this country truly understand and appreciate the faith you as Muslims embrace, its practices, its beliefs, its precepts and its inclusive humanity.
The New Testament enjoins us thus: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High entreats Muslims to invite Christians and Jews- as follows –
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between you and us: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)
Together, we could create a world in which the fruits of faith – tolerance, understanding, and compassion – enrich and safeguard our planet and worldview of our children, and our children’s children.
BARKA DA SALLAH – Mustapha Yusif
I wish to extend best wishes to my Muslim brothers and sisters in Ghana and around the world on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).
Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking) is celebrated on the first day of lunar month of Shawwal, when Muslims gather to perform the Eid prayer and bring 29/30 days of fasting to an end. Muslims set aside a determined amount of food, known as Zakat al-Fitr or Fetriyeh, to give in charity to the poor, to ensure everyone has enough to eat during the joyous occasion. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, practicing patience and humility.
It is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Eid-ul-Fitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation. The feast of Fitr is God’s reward for those who fast during the holy month of Ramadan. In this month, man should try to add to his true knowledge of God, do acts of charity for the needy, and renew his/her beliefs towards his Lord. The prayers of the day of Eid al-Fitr are a reason for unity and solidarity of Muslims all over the world. On this day, Muslims honor God for His endless and all-enhancing mercy.
It is a day when the Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe fast and obey His commandment during the holy month of Ramadan. This day brings to Muslims rejoicing and happiness. The rejoicing is not, however, at the departure of the month of Ramadan; it is the happiness which man feels after successfully completing an important task.
The conception of Eid in Islam is not confined only to celebration extravagance, luxurious feasts, friendly handshakes and embraces. The Muslims should rather devote this day to the worship of Allah (SWT) and should beseech Him to approve their virtuous deeds and forgive their sins. This is because the doors of God’s pardon are kept open this day and His Blessings are bountiful.
Unfortunately, many Muslims abstain from sins, tame their base desires, offer charity, show sympathy and empathy towards others during the month of Ramadan, but come Eid-ul-Fitr, they go back to what they were before! Let us carry all the virtuous habits we exhibited in the month of Ramadan in all the things that we do in our personal lives, in our dealings with others, in our dealings with society and nation and in our dealings with the rest of the world so that we shall have a better world.
On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (Third Caliph of Islam some 1,400 years ago) delivered a sermon in which he said: “O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. Therefore, watch out in those things which serve as your re-creation (on this day and days to follow)”
Let us be reminded that Eid-ul-Fitir and the teaching of Islam remind us of unity, tolerance, respect, love, friendship, patience and acts of charity. Let this auspicious day serve as a blessing to our nation and our world.
BARKA DA SALLAH
We all believe in God and we try to live by the teachings of his book the Qur’an/Bible. We must be true to ourselves and importantly those in whom we trust and have given authority and power must start to show the way and practice what our religion demands…….