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Lets Know Ramadan

Posted on 24th May, 2020

Let’s know Ramadan

 

This is the third and final set of pages of Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald's presentation of Ramadan. He has published these texts every day on our Facebook page (Vincent de Paul Church) to help Christians get to know and appreciate the sense and meaning of Ramadan; a month of great importance for our Muslim friends. He has been making his teaching easier by adding a little quiz to each contribution. The question he poses one day will be answered the next.

 

Ramadan Day 17

 

The Pillars of Islam (that is, of Islamic practice) have been mentioned (see the answer to question 2). What are the Pillars of Islamic belief? They are the following: God, angels, prophets, revealed books, the decree of God, Judgement on the Last Day.

It is not possible to explain all of these in one short paragraph, but a word can be said about the first pillar of belief: God.

Muslims believe in One God. The name of God in Arabic is Allâh. This is a contraction of al-‘ilâha which means “the divinity”. In other words there is no other divinity, no other god. Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that there is only one God. The Second Vatican Council has taught that “together with us (Christians) they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” (Lumen gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no.16). We understand this God differently; Jews and Muslims do not accept a God who is Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But this does not mean we adore a different God. There is only one God. It is interesting to note that Arabic-speaking Christians use the name Allâh for God.

 

Today’s question (17)

The term islam means submission to God. The Muslim is one who submits to the will of God.

What does îmân mean? a) charity; b) faith; c) leader

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (16)

The question was: Today is VE Day. It is also the Feast of the Martyrs of Algeria. These martyrs were Beatified on 8 December 2019. In this group of 19 religious how many women are there?

a) none; b) 3; c) 6.

The correct answer is c)

Here is the complete list of the Blessed Martyrs with the dates of their deaths.

Henri (Marist Brother) and Paul-Hélène (Little Sister of the Assumption) 8 May 1994

Esther and Caridad, Augustinian Missionary Sisters, 23 October 1994

Jean, Alain, Charles and Christian, Missionaries of Africa, 27 December 1994

Angèle-Marie et Bibiane, Our Lady of the Apostles, 3 September 1995

Odette, Little Sister of the Sacred Heart, 10 November 1995

Christian, Luc, Christophe, Michel, Bruno, Célestin et Paul, Trappists, 21 May 1996

Pierre, Dominican, 1 August  1996

 

Ramadan Day 18

 

Sunni and Shi’a

Muslims have the same basic beliefs and practices, and yet they are divided.  The main division is between Sunni and Shi’a. How did this division come about? When Muhammad died in 632 C.E. one group of Muslims held that he had left no provision for the future. Some leading Muslims got together and chose one of the first converts to Islam, Abu Bakr, as the Caliph (the successor) to govern the community. Another group asserted that Muhammad had appointed his nearest male relative, ‘his cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali, to be his successor. There developed a party (shi’a) supporting ‘Ali in opposition to the ruling Caliph. So on the one hand there were those Muslims who supported the idea of a Caliph as a political-military ruler of the Islamic community, and on the other hand those who insisted that the authority over the community is mainly spiritual; the community is led by an Imam (‘leader’) who must be a descendant of Muhammad. Today about 90% of Muslims world-wide are Sunnis, the Shi’a, of whom there are different groups, constituting roughly 10%.

 

Daily question (18) the majority of Muslims are Sunnis. What does the word Sunni mean?  a) people from the Orient; b) people of a Pleasant Disposition; c) people of Tradition.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (17)

The question was: The term islâm means submission to God. The Muslim is one who submits to the will of God. What does îmân mean?

a) charity; b) faith; c) leader

 The correct answer is b)

            Our word “Amen” comes from the same root as îmân.

Charity is ihsân, or doing that which is good.

The leader (for example at Prayer) is called an Imâm (see the answer to question 4).

 

Ramadan Day 19

 

As in Judaism, the Law is very important in Islam. Correct practice (orthopraxis) is often given more importance than correct belief (orthodoxy). Yet right from the beginning there have been Muslims who have wanted to go beyond the outward observance of the law, through practicing asceticism, in striving to perform all acts with a pure intention, stressing meditation over action, rating spiritual development higher than strict observance of the law. This Islamic mysticism is known as Sufism, and the people who follow this way are known as Sufis.

The Sufi may be an individual, but more often belongs to a confraternity or an order known as a tarîqa (‘way’). There are many different Sufi orders, each with its own practices, especially prayer rituals added to the ordinary ritual prayers. The members do not live together, but they assemble, usually once a week, to pray, often chanting and rhythmical movements accompanied by drums. These Sufi orders have contributed much to the expansion of Islam.

 

Daily question (19)

Mystics in Islam are called Sufis. What is the meaning of the word sûf ?

a) a row formed when performing salat (ritual prayer) b) soup for simple meals; c) wool.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (18)

The question was: the majority of Muslims are Sunnis. What does the word Sunni mean?

a) people from the Orient; b) people of a Pleasant Disposition; c) people of Tradition.

 

The correct answer is c)

Tradition (with a capital T) is in Arabic sunna. This is what is customary, usually based on what Muhammad said or did recounted in a ‘tradition’ (hadîth).  The Sunna stands alongside the Qur’an as a source of Islamic law.

 

Ramadan Day 20

 

The Fâtiha

On a Muslim tombstone is often written: “For the deceased who lies here please recite a Fâtiha.”

Al-Fâtiha, which means “the opening”, is the name given to the first sûra (chapter) of the Qur’an.

This chapter is recited during every unit of the Salât (ritual prayer), so that a Muslim who performs the five daily prayers will recite it 17 times during the day. In some ways it is the Islamic equivalent of the Our Father. Here is the text:

            In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy!

            Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds,

            the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy,

            Master of the Day of Judgement.

            It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.

            Guide us in the straight path:

            The path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone

                                               astray.

 

Daily question: Al-fâtiha is the name given to the first sûra (chapter) of the Qur’an

           How many sûras chapters) are there in the Qur’an?  a) 24; b)  74;  c) 114.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (19)

The question was: Mystics in Islam are called Sufis. What is the meaning of the word sûf ?

a) a row formed when performing salât (ritual prayer) b) soup for simple meals; c) wool.

 

The correct answer is c)

Wool in Arabic is sûf. The first mystics, or ascetics, in Islam adopted wearing a rough woolen garment, and so became known as Sufis.

When Muslims perform the Prayer together they stand in a line (saff; plural sufûf).

 

Ramadan Day 21

 

The last days of Ramadan 

The last ten days of Ramadan are special. Within them falls the Night of Destiny (laylat al-qadr).  This special night is mentioned in the Qur’an; in fact a sura is dedicated to it:

            We sent it down on the Night of Glory.

            What will explain to you what that Night of Glory is?

            The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months;

            On that night the angels and the Spirit descend again and again with their Lord’s permission

                                           on every task.

            Peace it is until the rising of the dawn.    (Q 97).

The translation used here gives Glory. Others suggest Power or Honour. The “it” in the first line refers to Revelation, in other words for Muslim the Qur’an which is held to have been communicated to Muhammad by the Spirit (usually understood as referring to the Angel Gabriel).

It is therefore a night of special blessing. It is usually identified with the 27th day of Ramadan, but this identification is not certain, so pious Muslims give special attention to 23rd and 25th Ramadan.

Yusuf Ali, in his translation of the Qur’an, says that it is best to take this in a mystic sense. “It transcends Time: for it is God’s Power dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, by his Revelation, in every kind of affair.”

 

Daily question: Angels have many different functions. Which one of the following is NOT their role?

a) To celebrate the praises of God; b) to fight on behalf of true believers; c) to give names to God’s creatures.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (20)

The question was: Al-fatiha is the name given to the first sura (chapter) of the Qur’an.

           How many suras chapters) are there in the Qur’an? a) 24; b) 74; c) 114.

The correct answer is c)

From sûra 2 onwards the sûras arranged more or less according to decreasing length. Sûra 2 al-baqara, The Cow has 282 verses, whereas sûra 114 al-nâs People  has 6.

 

Ramadan Day 22

 

The last days of Ramadan (continued)

Last year Fr Terry and I attended an iftâr (meal for the breaking of the fast) at the Abdul Quilliam Mosque at Brougham Terrace on the West Derby Road. This claims to be the first mosque in England. Unfortunately this year, because of the restrictions, it is not possible for the mosque to offer similar iftârs. We sympathise with them, and with all the Muslims who, like us, cannot gather in places of worship. We were made very welcome last year. Among the literature that we were given was a Ramadan Guide. One of the articles in this publication was on “Ramadan: The Days of Mercy”. It starts of by saying: “The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has made it easier for us to gain the full blessings of Ramadan by dividing the month into three parts of ten days each, with each part having its own special significance.

The first 10 days: Days of Mercy;

The second 10 days: Days of Forgiveness;

The last 10 days: Salvation from the Hellfire

This last division of the month is a reminder that Muslims believe in the reward of Paradise and the punishment of Hell. The following prayer is given”

O Allah! I ask you for paradise and whatever words and actions may take me near to it. I seek your protection from the fire and whatever words or actions that may take me near it. I beseech You to make Your decisions for me good.

 

Daily question: Ritual Prayer in Islam is called salat. Additional prayer is often referred to as du’â. What is the original meaning of the word du’â ?

a)To call; b) to make double; c) to give something that is due.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (21)

The question was: Angels have many different roles. Which one of the following is NOT their role?

a) To celebrate the praises of God; b) to fight on behalf of true believers; c) to give names to God’s creatures.

The correct answer is c).

God asked the angels to tell him the names of things, and they replied that they did not have this knowledge. God taught Adam to name all creatures (see Qur’an 2:30-33).

 

Ramadan Day 23

 

Fatima and Mary

For Catholics Fatima always evokes the apparitions of Our Lady that took place at Fatima in Portugal. The locality took its name from an Arabic princess, a Muslim who became a Christian.

The original Fatima was the daughter of Muhammad by his first wife, Khadija. Fatima was given in marriage to Muhammad’s cousin, ‘Ali, and bore him two sons, Hasan and Husayn. She is thus revered by the Shi’a who call her the “Mother of the Imams.” She is a woman of sorrows, of many tears, because her husband “Ali was not recognized as the rightful successor of Muhammad and was later assassinated, as also on account of the martyrdom of her son Husayn. A tradition (hadith) is attributed to Muhammad according to which he said: “Fatima is foremost among the ladies of Paradise.” In the Shi’a tradition she is counted among the 14 Holy Ones, the only woman to be included. Yet she is not mentioned in the Qur’an, unlike Mary whose mother said of her:

I name her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Your protection from the rejected Satan (Q 2:36).

So Mary and Jesus were untouched by Satan and were sinless.  To Mary the angels said:

            Mary, God has chosen you and made you pure. He has truly chosen you above all women.

                                                                                                                         (Q 2:42)

Daily question: Fatima is considered to be the “mother of the Imams”. How many Imams have there been?

a) 7; b) 12; c) 49.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (22)

The question was: Ritual Prayer in Islam is called salât. Additional prayer is often referred to as du’â. What is the original meaning of the word du’â ?

a) To call; b) to make double; c) to give something that is due.

The correct answer is a).

Salat is a prayer of praise, but this is supplemented, especially as part of the sermon during the Friday Prayer, by supplication, calling on God for particular needs.

From the same root comes the word da’wa (or da’wah) which means “invitation”, and is used for the invitation to embrace Islam.

 

Ramadan Day 24

 

Jesus and Mary as a Sign for all people

The name of Mary is frequently mentioned in the Qur’an. This is because Jesus, recognized by the Qur-an as a prophet, is often referred to as “the son of Mary”. This way of presenting Jesus is for Christians both negative and positive. It is negative in that it does not declare Jesus to be the Son of God. On the other hand it is positive in the sense that it accepts the virgin birth of Jesus: Jesus is the “son of Mary”; he has no earthly father. The following is a text from the Qur’an:

Remember the one who guarded her chastity. We breathed into her from Our Spirit and made her and her son a sign for all people (Q 21:91).

All commentators agree in identifying “the one who guarded her chastity” as Mary, the Virgin Mary. She and her son, Jesus, are naturally bound together. They constitute a single sign. But we may ask: a sign of what?  In the Gospel Jesus is essentially a sign of salvation. On seeing the baby Jesus, Simeon declares: “My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see” (Luke 2:30-31). The centre of the Qur’anic message is that there is One God, Creator and Judge, who will judge the whole of mankind at the end of time. At the end of time God will assemble the whole of humanity before Him. Many contemporaries of Muhammad did not accept this teaching, so the Qur’an argues that just as God, who created the world simply by his word, has no difficulty in bringing about the virginal birth of Jesus, so He who brought about this miraculous birth will also be able to bring about the new birth of mankind at the general resurrection. So the emphasis is on God’s power rather than on His saving love. Christians and Muslims are close in their beliefs, but there remain essential differences.

 

Today’s question: Which of the following New Testament figures is NOT mentioned by name in the Qur’an ?

a) Jesus, b) John the Baptist c) Joseph, son of Jacob, husband of Mary d) Zechariah

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (23)

The question was: Fatima is considered to be the “mother of the Imams”. How many Imams of the Shi’a have there been? a) 7; b) 12; c) 49.

The correct answer is any one of them, depending on which group of Shi’a one is referring to.

- The majority of the Shi’a would say 12. They recognize 12 Imams (and so are called Ithna’ashari Shi’a, or “Twelvers”. The twelfth Imam has been in occultation, a Hidden Imam, since 941 C.E. It is believed that he is always alive, though hidden, and that he will return at the end of time as al-Mahdi, the Guided One.

- There was however a dispute after the death of the Sixth Imam. He had designated his eldest son, Ismai’il, to succeed him, but he changed the designation to another son, Musa. When Isma’il died, His followers, called Ismai’ilis, declared that he was the last Imam, and that there was no further Imam present in the world. These are known as “Seveners”.

- Other Isma’ilis recognized Muhammad, the son of Isma’il, as the Imam and have continued recognizing Imams until today. They follow Prince Karim Aga Khan IV as their Living Imam. The present Aga Khan is thus the 49th Imam since the death of Muhammad.

 

Ramadan Day 25

 

Prophets

One of the pillars of faith for Muslims is belief in prophets, chosen by God to give a message t mankind. Different prophets are mentioned many times in the Qur’an, for example:

Say (Muhammad), “We (Muslims) believe in God and in what has been sent down to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes. We believe in what has been given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord. We do not make a distinction between any of them (Q 3:84).

There are three non-Biblical Arab prophets mentioned: Hud, Salih and Shu’ayb

From the qur’anic passage quoted above, it can be noticed that Jesus is recognized as a prophet. Though this verse says that no distinction is made between any of the prophets, in fact a distinction is made between

  • a simple prophet (nabî) who is given revelation in the form of general moral teaching;
  • a messenger (rasûl) who is sent to convey also a law.

Muhammad is recognized by Muslims as both prophet, indeed the Prophet (al-nabî) and messenger, the Messenger of God (rasûl Allâh), and indeed as the final prophet and messenger.

Muhammad is not the father of any one of you men; he is God’s Messenger and the seal of the prophets (Q 33:40).

 

Daily question: Which of the following figures of the Old Testament is NOT mentioned in the Qur’an?

a) Jacob; b) Jeremiah; c) Job; d) Jonas.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (24)

The question was: Which of the following New Testament figures is NOT mentioned by name in the Qur’an ?

a) Jesus, b) John the Baptist c) Joseph, son of Jacob, husband of Mary d) Zechariah

The correct answer is c)

Joseph is not named in the Qur’an, probably to emphasize the virginity of Mary. There is a veiled reference to him as the guardian of Mary in the verse:

You were not present among them when they cast lots to see which of them should take charge of Mary (Q 2:44).

This is in accordance with the Christian tradition, found in the apocryphal Book of James, that widowers were invited to cast lots with their rods for Mary, and that as a result Joseph was indicated as the one to take charge of her.

Jesus is mentioned many times in the Qur-an.

The story of Zachariah and the birth of John (Yahya – who is not called “the Baptist”) is found in sûra 19 of the Qur’an (Q 19:1-13).

 

Ramadan Day 26

 

The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God

The month of Ramadan is a time not only for fasting but also for prayer. Devout Muslims will make a special effort to read the Qur’an during this month. Another way of praying is to reflect on the Names of God. A Muslim has written: “The more one reflects on the Divine names, the more one is elevated in the realm of spirituality. A reflecting human being becomes a mirror for the Divine names. The human being that becomes such a mirror becomes a perfect human being.” According to tradition there are ninety-nine Names of God. Their recitation is encouraged in the following hadith (saying of Muhammad):

To God belong the 99 Names, that is one hundred minus one, for He, the Unique, loves to be designated by these Names, enumerated one by one; the one who knows the 99 Names will enter Paradise.

100 minus 1: there is one Name missing, the Supreme Name, or the Hidden Name of God. This is a reminder that the Names given to God in human language and never fully convey the mystery of God.

 

Daily question:  The Call to Prayer contains the phrase Allahu akbar and at the beginning of  Salât (Ritual Prayer) this phrase is proclaimed by the imam and repeated by the assembly. What does Allâhu akbar mean?

a) God is All-Aware; b) God is All-Powerful; c) God is Greater.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (25)

The question was: Which of the following figures of the Old Testament is NOT mentioned in the Qur’an?

a) Jacob; b) Jeremiah; c) Job; d) Jonah.

The correct answer is b).

None of the Major Prophets of the Bible, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, or of the Minor Prophets, including Amos and Hosea, figure in the Qur’an, with the exception of Jonah.

Jacob (Ya’qûb), particularly in the sûra yûsuf  (Q 12) which tells the story of Joseph.

The example of Job (Ayyûb) who cried out to God in his suffering is related in Q 21:83-84.

The story of Jonah (Yûnus) is told in Q 37:149-148.

 

Ramadan Day 27                 

 

Revealed Books

According to tradition on the Night of Destiny (laylat al-qadr), 27 Ramadan, the whole Qur’an was sent down to Muhammad, subsequently to be given piecemeal as needed. But the Qur’an is not the only Scripture to have been given, as the Qur’an itself enjoins:

You who believe, believe in God and His Messenger and in the Scripture He sent down to His Messenger, as well as what He sent down before. Anyone who does not believe in God, His angels, His Scriptures, His messengers and the Last Day has gone far, far astray (Q 4:136).

God’s Messenger refers to Muhammad, and so “the Scripture He sent down to His Messenger” refers to the Qur’an. But what has been sent down before? The Qur’an mentions the Torah (tawrât) given to Moses, the Psalms (zabûr) given to David, and the Gospel (injîl) given to Jesus.

It is worth noting that just as the Qur’an is the message given to Muhammad to preach, so the Gospel is the message preached by Jesus, of which only fragments remain.  The four Gospels which speak about Jesus are not the Gospel mentioned by the Qur’an and so are not considered to be part of the revealed Book.

It is important to note another passage of the Qur’an:

We sent to you [Muhammad] the Scripture with the truth, confirming the Scriptures that came before it, and with final authority over them: so judge between them according to what God has sent down (Q 4:48).

The conception is that God’s revelation came in successive editions, the Qur’an being the final edition. Usually when buying a book one chooses the latest edition. This may explain why many Muslims are not interested in reading the Bible.

 

Today’s question: Muslims often refer to al-Qur’ân al-Karîm. What does “Karim” mean?  a) glorious; b) holy;    c) nourishing.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (26)

The question was: The Call to Prayer contains the phrase Allâhu akbar and at the beginning of Salât (Ritual Prayer) this phrase is proclaimed by the imam and repeated by the assembly. What does Allâhu akbar mean?

a) God is All-Aware; b) God is All-Powerful; c) God is Greater.

The correct answer is c)

a) Al-Khabîr – All-Aware; b) Al-Qâdir – All-Powerful

Allâhu akbar, God is greater, expressing the sublimity of God, is unfortunately used as a slogan in political rallies and even in violent demonstrations.

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar and Pope Francis protested against this in their joint statement on Human Fraternity:

We call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression… God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.

 

Ramadan Day 28       

 

Almsgiving

The third pillar of Islam is Almsgiving (Zakât).  This is in fact a tax to be paid to the community by all believers who have financial means. It is not a tithe, a payment of 10%, but rather giving 2.5% of one’s net revenue after all expenses have been paid. This can be accompanied by free-will offerings (sadaqât) which are encouraged. There is also a zakât al-fitr, the almsgiving at the end of Ramadan, a special donation (which can be in kind) for the poor. (Last year the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque indicated 5 pounds sterling per person as the amount to be given).

 So Zakat can be seen as an expression of solidarity with the faith community. One can think of the pillars of Islam in this way:

  • Shahada, profession of faith: entry into the Umma, the community of Muslims
  • Salat, Ritual Prayer: communion with God and with fellow Muslims
  • Zakat, Almsgiving: solidarity with the community.
  • Sawm, Fasting during Ramadan: the experience of belonging to a distinct community

           (People around are not observing Ramadan)

  • Hajj, Pilgrimage to Mecca: the experience of belonging to an international community.

Is there anything for Christians to learn from this?

 

Daily question: Zakat is the name for Almsgiving. What is the root meaning of zakat?

a) Intelligent; b) pleasurable; c) pure.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (27)

The question was: Muslims often refer to al-Qur’ân al-Karîm. What does “Karim” mean?

a) glorious; b) holy; c) nourishing.

The correct answer is a)

The Arabic word karîm has in fact multiple meanings: noble, eminent, generous, kind, precious.

As a Name for God it is understood as meaning Generous. Applied to the Qur’an it is usually translated as Glorious.

The Arabic for holy is qadîs. Al-Quddûs, the All-Holy is another of the Names of God. Arabic-speaking Christians call the Holy Bible al-kitâb al-muqaddas.

 

Ramadan Day 29

 

Greetings to Muslims from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Ever since the rise of Islam in the 7th Century Christians and Muslims have been living side by side, particularly in the Middle East. Yet the Second Vatican Council, which took place over 50 years ago, was the first Council of the Church to deal specifically with Islam. It stated:

But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

                                                                                (Lumen Gentium 16)

Nostra Aetate, the Council’s Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, promulgated in 1965, has a a special paragraph on Islam. This begins:

            The Church has also a high regard for Muslims.

It ends with an exhortation:

Over the centuries many quarrels and dissension have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, soial justice, and moral values (NA 3).

Even before the official approval of this document, Pope Saint Paul VI set up a special office in the Vatican for relations with people of other religions. A member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa was appointed immediately to promote relations with Muslims. In 1967 for the first time he sent greetings to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan. This started a tradition which continues until today.  This year’s message starts off in the following way:

The month of Ramadan is so central in your religion and therefore dear to you at personal, familial and social levels. lt is a time for spiritual healing and growth, of sharing with the poor, of strengthening bonds with relatives and friends.

For us, your Christian friends, it is a propitious time to further strengthen our relationships with you, by greeting you, meeting you on this occasion and, where possible, by sharing in an iftar with you. Ramadan and 'Jd al-Fitr thus are special occasions to foster fraternity between Christians and Muslims. It is in this spirit that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers its prayerful best wishes and hearty congratulations to you all.

This message had been prepared before COVID-19 struck. It has not been possible to meet with Muslims, but the sentiments expressed here are still valid.

 

Today’s question: Which is the country that has the largest population of Muslims ?

a) Egypt; b) India; c) Indonesia; d) Nigeria; e) Pakistan; f) Saudi Arabia

 

 Ramadan Day 30    

 

‘Id al-Fitr

Today I am recording this message rather than just putting a text on Facebook. This gives me the opportunity to express to our Muslim brothers and sisters, on behalf of all of us at St Vincent’s, priests and people, our very best wishes as they celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr, the feast (‘îd) of the Breaking of the Fast at the end of the month of Ramadan. I would like to tell our Muslim friends that we at St Vincent’s parish have been accompanying them all through the month of Ramadan.

We know that on the morning of the feast there is a special Prayer when all Muslims are invited to gather together. Last year, at the Abdul Quilliam Mosque, three services were scheduled for the celebration of the ‘Id Prayer, at 7.30, 8.30 and 9.30 in the morning. This will not be possible this year, because of the restrictions imposed on account of the coronavirus pandemic. We sympathise with you. But we know, like you, that God is near, Allâhu qarîb, Distancing is not part of God’s sunna, His normal way of relating to us. Allâhu ma’a al-sâbirîn, “God is with the steadfast” (Q 2:153), and you have surely been steadfast as you have observed Ramadan in the difficult conditions of this year. May God pour out on you an abundance of blessings. We say to you: ‘Îd mabrûk, al-salâmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmat Allâh wa-barakâtu-hu, A Blessed Feast, Peace be with you and the Mercy of God and His Blessings.

 

‘Id al-Fitr, the feast (‘îd) of the Breaking of the Fast, begins when the moon is sighted on the evening of the first day of the month of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan. It is also known as the Lesser Feast (al-‘îd al-saghîr) compared to the ‘Id al-Adha, the feast of the Sacrifice, or the Greater Feast (al-‘îd al-kabîr).

On this day children usually receive gifts and sweets.

 

Daily question: As this is the last day of Ramadan there is no question.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (28)

The question was: Which is the country in the world that has the largest population of Muslims?

a) Egypt; b) India; c) Indonesia; d) Nigeria; e) Pakistan; f) Saudi Arabia

The correct answer is c)

The following figures, taken from Wikipedia, are a rough guide.

total population (in millions)          Muslims (in millions)

Indonesia:          240                       227

Egypt                   95                       86   (largest number in the Arab world)

India               1,210                       170  (a small minority !)

Nigeria              195                        90  (largest number in Africa)

Pakistan            207                        200 (second in the world)

Saudi Arabia       27                         27 (Christian foreign workers 1.5)  

 

Many thanks to Fran Williams who has seen that these posts have appeared regularly throughout the month of Ramadan and has found illustrations for them on Facebook.

Invitation to People of All Faiths

Posted on 12th May, 2020

 

From Pope Francis:

 

Let's know Ramadan 2

Posted on 11th May, 2020

We introduce here Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald's presentation of Ramadan. He includes these texts every day on our Facebook page (Vincent de Paul Church) to help Christians get to know and appreciate the sense and meaning of ramadan; a month of great importance for our Muslim friends. Here, we collect his texts over 8 days. You can follow them daily on Facebook, if your prefer. He is making his teaching easier by adding a little quiz to each contribution. The question he poses one day will be answered the next. 

 

Ramadan 9 

When Muslims perform salât, their Ritual Prayer, they always face towards Mekka. The direction of prayer (qibla) is indicated in the mosque by a niche (mihrâb). Elsewhere it may be indicated by an arrow. This can be seen often in the rooms of hotels frequented by Muslims. The Imam, the leader of the prayer, also faces Mekka, so he has his back to the assembly. When people gather for prayer, whether they are few or many, whether in the mosque or elsewhere, they form lines. They are exhorted not to stay behind, leaving gaps in the lines, but to move forward and fill up any gaps.

Perhaps something similar could be done in our churches.

 

Daily question (9)

How many Prayers are prescribed for Muslims each day?

a) 3;  b) 5;  c) 7.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (8)

The question was: How many women are mentioned by name in the Qur’an? a) 1; b) 3;  c) 7.

The correct answer is  a)

Mary/Maryam is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an. Her name occurs 34 times, far more often than in the Gospels. Other women are referred to in the Qur’an, but they remain unnamed.

 

Ramadan 10

Who is required to fast during Ramadan? All adult Muslims, both men and women, are required to observe the fast during Ramadan. Children are not obliged, but they may be encouraged to fast during a certain number of days in order to learn what it means. Those who are ill or elderly are not obliged to fast. This year, with the threat of COVID-19, several Muslim authorities have advised the vulnerable elderly not to fast. Those who are travelling (they would be few this year) are excused from the fast, as also are women who have just given birth or are breast-feeding. These people should, if possible, make up the fast later.

 

Daily question (10) 

Who or what is a Mufti

   a) a door-keeper b) a non-Islamic way of dressing c) a legal authority

  

The answer to yesterday’s question (9)

The question was: How many Prayers are prescribed for Muslims each day?  a) 3; b) 5;  c) 7.

The correct answer is b)

The number of obligatory prayers is not found clearly in the Qur’an. It has been established by tradition. The five times of prayer are daybreak, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening.

It may be mentioned here that Muslims from the Indian sub-continent do not use the term salât for Prayer, but namâz (a word of Persian origin).

 

Ramadan 11

“[Prophet], have you considered the person who denies the Judgement? It is he who pushes aside the orphan and does not urge others to feed the needy. So woe to those who pray but are heedless of their prayer; those who are all show and forbid common kindnesses. (Qur’an , sûra 107)

 

This passage of the Qur’an underlines something of great importance: the Muslim should perform his or her duties for the right intention. There should be no ulterior motive. If Muslims pray in the mosque only to be seen, so that people will consider them good Muslims and will frequent their business, this is a form of hypocrisy. One’s life should be in accordance with one’s devotional practices.

Can we not say the same about the practice of Christianity?

 

Daily question (11):

What is meant by wudû’?

    a) ablutions; b) final salutation; c) a wooden throne or support for a qur’an.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (10)

The question was: Who or what is a Mufti?   a) a door-keeper b) a non-Islamic way of dressing c) a legal authority

The correct answer is c)

The mufti is a legal scholar who provides an authoritative legal opinion (fatwa) in answer to a question posed by an individual or a group of people. Questions often concern the application of a law in new circumstances. For instance, the fast of Ramadan means that no substance should enter the body; is it permissible to receive injections during Ramadan?

In majority Muslim countries the government often appoints a Chief Mufti whose office it is to respond to people’s questions.

The door-keeper may hold the key (miftâh), but is not there to answer questions.

The English word ‘mufti’ has nothing to do with Islam.

 

Ramadan 12

Friday Prayer

For Muslims Friday is the day of congregation (jumu’a). The noon prayer on Friday is a special community prayer. The prayer is shorter than usual – only two units – but there is a sermon delivered by the Imam. In the Qur’an it is said:

“Believers! When the call to prayer is made on the day of congregation, hurry towards the reminder of God and leave off your trading – that is better for you, if only you knew – then when the prayer has ended, disperse in the land and seek out God’s bounty (Qur’an 62:9-10).

From this it can be deduced that Friday is not necessarily a rest day. It is recommended only to stop work in order to be present for the community prayer. Yet many majority Muslim countries have adopted Friday as the weekly rest day.

 

Daily question (12)

What is the minbar?   

     a) a special clock indicating the time of prayer; b) a pulpit; c) a place at the mosque for refreshments .

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (11)

The question was:  What is meant by wudû’?   a) ablutions; b) final salutation; c) a wooden throne or           support for a Qur’an.

The correct answer is a)

Before performing the Salât (Prayer) Muslims, both men and women, are required to wash in order to be ritually pure. They are to wash their hands, their arms up to the elbows, their feet, their face and their mouth. Mosques always provide facilities for these ablutions.

wadâ’ is the final salutation; at the end of the Prayer the one praying turns to the right and to the left with a greeting of peace.

The wooden support for the Qur’an is a kursî, a throne.

 

Ramadan 13

Mekka (or Mecca)

Mekka is the city in Saudi Arabia where Muhammad was born. In pre-Islamic times it was an important trading centre, and also already a sanctuary and a place of pilgrimage for the different Arab tribes, the focus being the Ka’ba, a cubic building which served as a temple for the worship of many divinities. When Muhammad and the first Muslims took control of Mekka, they made the Ka’ba into a place of worship of Allah, the one God. When performing Salât Muslims face Mekka.

Mekka is also the goal of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage. It is for Muslims the holiest city. This year, because of COVID-19, pilgrimage to Mekka is not being allowed.

 

Daily question (13)

The Ka’ba is a building in the form of a cube; it is the central shrine in Mekka; what is the tawâf?

      a) the name for the Black Stone contained in the Ka’ba; b) the rite of circumambulation (circling

          round the Ka’ba);  c) a special garment worn for the pilgrimage.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (12)

The question was: What is the minbar?  a) a special clock indicating the time of prayer; b) a pulpit; c) a place at the mosque for refreshments .

The correct answer is b)   The minbar (pronounced “mimbar”) is used for the sermon during the Friday prayer. It is usually in the form of a movable step-ladder. The preacher sits or stands on the top step.

 

Ramadan 14

Madina

Madina (pronounced ‘medina’, and sometimes spelt that way) is the second holiest city in Islam. It was originally an agglomeration in an agricultural area called Yathrib, to the north of Mekka, in Saudi Arabia. At the time of Muhammad its main inhabitants were two Arab tribes which were constantly in conflict with each other. There were also three groups of Jews. Muhammad had acted as a mediator between the two conflicting Arab tribes. When he and his first disciples in Mekka were being persecuted, he decided to go to Yathrib where the first Islamic community took shape. This was in C.E. 622. Consequently, according to tradition, the agglomeration took the name of madînat al-nabî, the city of the Prophet, shortened to Madina. Muhammad lived for a further 10 years in Madina until his death in 632. It remained the political capital of the Islamic empire until 661. Pilgrims to Mekka often visit Madina as well. The two cities are known as the haramayn, the two holy places. They are “forbidden” cities, in that non-Muslims are not allowed to enter them, but they are also ‘sanctuaries” in which bloodshed is prohibited.

 

Daily question (14)

In 622 C.E. Muhammad and his disciples went from Mekka to Medina. This is known as the hijra. What does the word hijra mean?    a) compromise; b) flight; c) migration.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (13)

The question was: The Ka’ba is a building in the form of a cube; it is the central shrine in Mekka; what is the tawâf? a) the name for the Black Stone contained in the Ka’ba; b) the rite of circumambulation (circling round the Ka’ba; c) a special garment worn for the pilgrimage.

The correct answer is  b)

An essential part of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mekka, is to circle seven times round the Ka’ba. This is done twice, at the beginning of the pilgrimage rites and at the end. Men and women perform this rite together; there is no separation of the sexes.

 

 Ramadan 15

Jerusalem is the third Holy city for Muslims. It is in fact called in Arabic al-Quds, “the Holy’. It is revered by Muslims for its connection with Muhammad. Sura 17 (The Night Journey) starts: “Glory to Him who made His servant [Muhammad] travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship” (Q 17:1). The “sacred place of worship” is understood as being the Ka’ba in Mekka, with the furthest (al-aqsâ) in Jerusalem.  From the place where Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son – a site where later was constructed the Dome of the Rock -   Muhammad was taken up to heaven. This site is where the Jewish Temple had stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in C.E. 70. Today al-Aqsa mosque is situated nearby, but the whole Esplanade of the Temple is recognized by Muslims as being al-Aqsa.

Jerusalem was never important politically for Muslims, but it became a place where Muslims seeking a deeper spiritual life settled. Even today Muslims, especially from Asia, like to visit Jerusalem after have been on pilgrimage to Mekka.

 

Daily question (15)

The Holy One (al-Quddûs) is one of the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God (see Qur’an 59:23).

Which of the following is also among the Ninety-Nine Names?  a) Father; b) Light; c) Potter; d) Shepherd.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (14)

The question was: In 622 C.E. Muhammad and his disciples went from Mekka to Medina. This is known as the hijra. What does the word hijra mean?   a) compromise; b) flight; c) migration.

The correct answer is  c).  

The root meaning of hijra is to emigrate, to dissociate oneself, to part company. The English version of this word is Hegira, or Hejira, defined by Collins Dictionary as “the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.; the starting point of the Muslim era”.

Though the newly-born group of Muslims faced difficulties in Mecca, the migration to Madina was less a matter of fleeing from danger and more of a political move to allow the community to become established.

 

Ramadan 16

The Pillars of Islam (that is, of Islamic practice) have been mentioned (see the answer to question 2). What are the Pillars of Islamic belief? They are the following: God, angels, prophets, revealed books, the decree of God, Judgement on the Last Day. It is not possible to explain all these in one short paragraph, but a word can be said about the first pillar of belief: God.

Muslims believe in One God. The name of God in Arabic is Allâh. This is a contraction of al-‘ilâha which means “the divinity”. In other words there is no other divinity, no other god. Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that there is only one God. The Second Vatican Council has taught that “together with us (Christians) they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” (Lumen gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no.16). We understand this God differently; Jews and Muslims do not accept a God who is Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But this does not mean we adore a different God. There is only one God. It is interesting to note that Arabic-speaking Christians use the name Allâh for God.

 

Today’s question (16)

The term islam means submission to God. The Muslim is one who submits to the will of God.

What does îmân mean? a) charity; b) faith; c) leader

  

The answer to yesterday’s question (15)

The question was: The Holy One (al-Quddûs) is one of the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God (see Qur’an 59:23).  Which of the following is also among the Ninety-Nine Names?   a) Father; b) Light; c) Potter; d) Shepherd.

The correct answer is  b)

The names of God are derived from the Qur’an. a), c) and d) do not occur. They would be considered incompatible with the transcendence of God. On b) Light (al-Nûr) there is this passage in the Qur’an:

            God is the light of the heavens and earth. His light is like this:

            There is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star,

             fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west,

            whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it…

            Light upon light – God guides whoever He will to His light (Qur’an 24:35).

 

 

 

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given an interview to Vatican News’ Hélène Destombes.

 

He spoke about the council's annual message for the Islamic month of Ramadan and the feast of Eid al-Fitr. 

Take a look at the message: Cardinal Ayuso: Inter-religious Dialogue Message

 

 

Let's know Ramadan

Posted on 30th April, 2020

During the month of Ramadan, Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, one of the Missionaries of Africa residing at St. Vincent’s Parish, has been helping people get to know how Muslims live and love Ramadan. He is making his teaching easier by adding a little quiz to each contribution. The question he poses one day will be answered the next. He is doing this for our Facebook Friends (Vincent de Paul Church) and has kindly accepted that we reproduce it here.

 

Ramadan (1)

Here is a description of the month of Ramadan given by Muslims: “The holy month of Ramadan unites all Muslims in fasting, feasting, worship and prayer. It is a time for contemplation, spirituality and brotherhood. It is also known and recognised as the month of the Qur'an.” 

From this description it will easily be understood how much more difficult Ramadan will be for Muslims during this period of social distancing. They will not be able to break the fast together, nor will they be able to gather in the mosque for special prayers. Let us remember them in our prayers.

 

Daily Question (1)

Ramadan is the name of the 9th month of the Islamic calendar year. What is the original meaning of the term Ramadan: a) a hotel; b) burning heat; c) medicine.   (the answer tomorrow).

 

 

Ramadan (2)

 

One of the main features of Ramadan is fasting (sawm). The following injunction is found in the Qur’an: “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. “ (Q 2:183).

When does this fasting take place? The fast lasts each day throughout the hours of light – tradition says, from when you can distinguish a white thread from a black thread, until this is no longer possible (here in Liverpool at this time of the year the hours of daylight are quite long).

What does this fast consist of? It means not allowing anything to enter the body, no food, no drink, no smoking or vaping. Fasting is undertaken out of obedience to God – as mentioned above, it is prescribed in the Qur’an – but it is also a way of showing solidarity with people who suffer from hunger.

 

Daily Question (2)

Fasting is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. Can you name the other four?

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (1)

The question: Ramadan is the name of the 9th month of the Islamic calendar year. What is the original meaning of the term Ramadan: a) a hotel; b) burning heat; c) medicine.  

The correct answer is b)

Before Islam adopted the lunar calendar, Ramadan, the 9th month, always occurred in the summer in Arabia when the heat was very intense. The lunar year is shorter than the solar year, so now Ramadan moves forward every year by 11 days.

 

  
Ramadan (3)

 

During the month of Ramadan special prayers, called tarâwîh, are performed. They are not obligatory, but many people usually stay in behind in the mosque after the final prayer of the day to recite them together. They often include the recitation of substantial passages from the Qur’an. This year, because of the restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, those who wish to perform these prayers will have to do so at home. They will miss the company of their fellow Muslims

 

Daily Question (3)

What is the meaning of Salât ? a) A greeting; b) Ritual prayer; c) A vegetarian dish.

(the answer tomorrow).

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (2)

The question: Fasting (sawm) is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. Can you name the other four?

The correct answer is: shahâda – the profession of faith; Salât – prayer; zakât – alms-giving; hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca.  

 

Ramadan (4)

 

The end of the fast each day is signaled by the Call to pray the evening prayer at sundown. In some countries the signal for the end of the fast is a canon blast. The traditional way of breaking the fast is first to take a date and a sip of milk, perform the evening prayer, and then come together for a communal meal (iftâr). For this meal the family will come together, or in some places the inhabitants of the same street. Often hotels and restaurants provide iftârs to which the poor are invited free of charge.

Iftârs are organized for Muslims and non-Muslims together. Last year, on 18 May, the Liverpool Region Mosques Network organized a large iftâr at the Pierhead.

This is another feature of Ramadan which will be sorely missing this year.

 

Daily Question (4)

The mu’ezzin is a) the one who calls to prayer; b) the leader of the prayer; c) a poor person.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (3)

The question was: What is the meaning of Salât ? a) A greeting; b) Ritual prayer; c)  A vegetarian dish.

The correct answer is: b)

The Arabic word salât probably comes from a Syriac word selota, meaning to bow or prostrate.

  

Ramadan 5

 

Fr Victor Edwin, an Indian Jesuit, President of the Islamic Studies Association (ISA) in India, has sent greetings to Muslims for Ramadan. He concludes by saying:

     "Dear brothers and sisters, in these difficult times of the Covid 19 breakout that has pushed peoples       across the continents into ‘lockdown’ situations, we along with you pray for God’s healing touch             upon all people. We pray for God’s consolation to those families that have lost their loved ones             during this pandemic. We pray specially for the doctors and hospital staff and volunteers who serve       the sick in these most difficult times.

     We pray that every man and woman come to realize their true responsibility as human persons and       learn to surrender their will to the Will of God according to their diverse religious traditions".

 

Daily question (5)

According to the Islamic calendar, this year is 1441. In which year of the Common Era did the Islamic era begin? a) 570;  b) 622; c) 632.

  

The answer to yesterday’s question (4)

The question was: The mu’ezzin is:  a) the one who calls to prayer; b) the leader of the prayer; c) a                                  poor person.

The correct answer is: a):

The call to Prayer is known as the adhân  (the ‘dh’ pronounce like the ‘th’ in the English “that”).

The mu’ezzin is the one who chants this call to Prayer:

The usual greeting among Muslims is al-salâmu ‘alay-kum – Peace be with you.

The response is wa ‘alay-kum al-salâm – And with you peace.

The leader of the Prayer is known as the Imâm. This may be someone who has been appointed st the Imam of a mosque, but any man who knows what to do, and knows how to recite some verses of the Qur’an, can lead the prayer,  If there are only women present praying together,  woman will act as Imam.

 A word for a poor person in Arabic is miskîn.

 

Ramadan 6

 

  An important place is given during Ramadan to the recitation of the      Qur’an. Many Muslims will read the whole of the Qur’an during this      Holy Month. In Egypt one can often see people in public transport        taking out a copy of the Qur’an and reciting it for themselves.

  The Qur’an has 114 sûras, or chapters, but it is also divided into 30      parts of equal length, one for each day of the month of Ramadan.        So by reading one part every day by the end of the month one will      have completed reading the whole of the Qur’an.

 

Daily question (6)

The Qur’an is the Holy Book of Muslims. What does the term qur’ân mean?    a)   inspiration;  b) a musical instrument; c) recitation.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (5)

The question was: According to the Islamic calendar, this year is 1441. In which year of the Common Era did the Islamic era begin? a) 570; b) 622; c) 632.

The correct answer is: b):

570 is usually recognized as the year of Muhammad’s birth.

632 was the year of his death.

622 was the year of the hijra, the move from Mekka to Madina where the Muslim community was born.

(The Christian era, which has become the Common Era, is calculated from the birth of Christ, whereas the Islamic Era is calculated from the birth of the community).

 

Ramadan 7

 

This year, because of COVID-19, Muslims cannot perform salât, their Ritual Prayer, in the mosque. What is the mosque? Our English word is derived ultimately from the Arabic masjid which means “the place where one prostrates”. As we see in photos and videos, prostration, bowing down so that the forehead touches the ground, is one of the important gestures made during the Prayer. Other gestures are standing, bowing, and sitting down on one’s heels. The Imam indicates the rhythm. These gestures are repeated twice, three times, or four times according to which prayer of the day is being performed.

 

Daily question 7

If the mosque is “the place where one prostrates”, what is a sajjâda?

  1. a)      A prayer mat; b) a cloak worn when performing the prayer; c) an instrument indicating the exact time for the prayer.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (6)

The question was: The Qur’an is the Holy book of Muslims. What does the term qur’ân mean?

         a)      inspiration;  b) a musical instrument; c) recitation.

The correct answer is: c).

The term qur’an comes from the Arabic word qara’a which means ‘read’ or ‘recite’. The first chronological message of the Qur’an is a command to Muhammad: iqra’, “Recite in the name of your Lord who created” (Q 96:1)/

The salât, the Ritual Prayer, includes some verses from the Qur’an. These are always recited in Arabic by the one who leads the prayer. They are never read from a book. Muslim children learn to recite some of the shorter sûras by heart. Some Muslims learn to recite the whole of the Qur’an by heart. Such a person is known as hâfiz al-qur’ân, a guardian of the Qur’an.

 

Ramadan 8

 

We are entering the month of May, a month dedicated to Mary, so today’s contribution will be on Our Lady. Muslims have a great respect for Mary, the mother of Jesus. There is a sûra (chapter) of the Qur’an that bears her name, sûra 19, sûrat Maryam, the sûra of Mary. The Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel comes to tell Mary that she will give birth to a son, is recounted in chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke, and in sûra 3 (The Family of ‘Imran) and also in sûra 19 (Maryam) of the Qur’an. About ten years ago in Lebanon the Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March, was declared a national holiday for all the citizens of the country. Christians and Muslims have formed the habit of coming together to pray on this day. This year a group of Christians and Muslims composed a special prayer in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is the text.

A common prayer for Christians and Muslims

(Lebanon, March 2020)

 

O God, Our Lord, Lord of Creation and of the whole human race,

You chose Mary, choosing her above all women,

Sending to her the Angel Gabriel to announce to her the good news

Which we celebrate together as Christians and Muslims.

Our Lord, You are the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, the One who

loves all human beings.

You have blessed us with life, save us from the danger of this pandemic.

Our Lord, may the Virgin Mary be a model for us in our lives,

May her example motivate us to preserve unity amongst us when

confronted with distress and suffering.

May we trust in Providence, rather than resign ourselves to fear and pride,

So that we, like Mary, may show solidarity and give generous service.

Lord, You who are the All-Hearing, the Granter of Security,

Give your help to Carers, Nurses and Doctors,

Heal the sick and console the afflicted,

Give to those in need their daily bread and all they require.

We implore your help so that we may remain devoted to You and faithful to one another.

Amen.

  

Daily question (8)

How many women are mentioned by name in the Qur’an? a) 1;   b) 3;  c) 7.

 

The answer to yesterday’s question (7)

The question was: If the mosque is “the place where one prostrates”, what is a sajjâda?

The correct answer is  a) a prayer mat

 

There needs to be something separating the one who prays from the floor or the ground. Usually mosques are carpeted. If there is no carpet, or if one is praying outside the mosque, a prayer mat will be used. If no prayer mat is available something which separates from the ground can take its place, a piece of cardboard or, for a man, his shirt.

 

 

THE MONTH OF RAMADAN - ACCOMPANYING MUSLIMS

Posted on 23rd April, 2020

Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, is due to start on Friday 24 April. Of course, as with all days for Muslims, it begins the evening before. But fasting, one of the main features of this month, will start only on the Friday.

In the island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, where many Muslims live, the Christians devised a programme which they called Duyog Ramadan, “Accompanying Ramadan”. The idea was taken from music: when people sing they are accompanied by someone playing the guitar; the guitarist doesn’t sing, but backs up the singers with his strumming. In a similar way, Christians will not be observing Ramadan, but they can accompany the Muslims who are doing so.

 

We, at St Vincent de Paul parish, would like to do the same this year. We wish to accompany our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially by our prayers. In order to help, some information about Ramadan, or about Islam in general, will be given every day on Facebook and in each issue of the Newsletter.

 

Here to start with is a copy of the message that was sent before Easter to some Muslims we know.

 

This weekend we Christians celebrate the most holy time of our year: the time of Easter. In it we remember the death and the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is for us a most sacred time. Due to the corona virus, like you, we have closed our places of worship and we are respecting the government’s advice that there should be no services which bring together more than two people in one place. It is a bewildering time for us. It is painful that we cannot celebrate Easter with our fellow Christians.

 

In a few weeks’ time, you too will be faced with the same situation as you enter into your holy month of Ramadan. Already, like us, painfully you keep your mosques closed. We would like you to know that we are praying for you too at this time, as Ramadan approaches.

 

May our Merciful God look upon us with mercy. May God protect us and console us in this time of suffering. May God help us to change our ways so that we may respect our planet and all God’s creatures which inhabit it with us.

 

+ Cardinal Michael.