From Thursday 18 June to Friday 17 July, our Muslim friends will be celebrating Ramadan. Our non-Muslim readers may be wondering ‘What does that have to do with me?’ In a multicultural, multi-religious society, it’s all too important to move beyond our circles to love and understand those we might normally walk straight past.
As one of the biggest events in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is an important time for people from the Islamic faith. Even though Muslims only make up 2.2% of the Australian population, there is a lot of fear in the community at the moment as we hear stories about extremists and terrorists around the world. It is right to abhor these events, but it is also right to work towards building strong relationships with people from all faiths. Most Muslims themselves disapprove of these acts, which go against the teachings of Islam.
While this year, Ramadan is taking place in June, the event is based on the Islamic Luna Calendar and so, like Easter, moves date each year. Muslims believe that their holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this month, so it is a holy month which is full of God’s blessings. Traditionally, many Muslims also believe that during the month of Ramadan the gates of heaven are opened, and the gates to hell are closed – so it is a time where people are encouraged to get closer to God.
Muslims take up this opportunity in a range of ways, the most common being fasting.