Ramadan: A Quarter of the World Comes Together to Fast and Pray

Seeking the crescent moon in the night sky, two billion faithful commemorated the beginning of Ramadan, the lunar month of fasting and abstention. Marking the revelation of the Word of God to a simple, unschooled man of the desert, Muhammad, devout Muslims spend their waking hours from dawn to dusk with prayers on their lips and peace in their hearts.

Muslim worshippers surround the Kaaba during the holy month of Ramadan in Makkah, Saudi Arabia (Photo by pxfuel.com, Creative Commons)
Muslim worshippers surround the Kaaba during the holy month of Ramadan in Makkah, Saudi Arabia (photo by pxfuel.com)

From the four corners of the world, non-Muslims acknowledge Ramadan in various ways.

For retailers, the holy month is an opportunity to capitalize by selling Muslim-friendly merchandise—for instance, children's books about the holiday—while others, such as Starbucks and Tyson Foods, have been promoting religious inclusion among their employees, hosting spiritual literacy training or hiring interfaith chaplains.

In London, home to 1.3 million Muslims, or 15 percent of the city’s population, the capital’s busy Piccadilly Circus shopping district was lit up for the first time with “Ramadan lights.” Mayor Sadiq Khan—who fasts during this period—switched on the lights. An advocate for religious freedom, Khan declared in 2016 that he would use the period to help “break down the mystique and suspicion” surrounding Islam in Britain.

In the U.S., President Joe Biden remembered the holy month in a statement. “Jill and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities across the country and around the world. Muslim Americans continue to strengthen our nation's diverse tapestry generation after generation.” 

And in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed to lower tensions during the holy month. Both communities share coincident religious periods this year, as the Jewish festival of Passover occurs during Ramadan in 2023. Many worshipers of both faiths will visit the holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City in the name of peace.

As Muslim communities come together in reverence and joy, the rest of us may take a teaching moment from their example and pray that the moment lasts and becomes a permanent way of life. As the Prophet said, “Spread peace amongst yourselves.”


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