In the Name of God All-Merciful Most Compassionate
Ramadan is the month of revelation, the month of the descent of the Qur’an, that great Reading from the limitless divine book in which the whole universe is inscribed. Some say it is the month of the descent of all scripture, of all true readings from the ultimate book. In Ramadan we hear the great message that we are not left alone in our errors, in our misery, in our struggles: that humanity is never abandoned, that help can come.
Ramadan is also the month of the Muslims as a community of reception, consecrated by the special divine grace that accompanies revelation. It is to us what Pentecost is to Christians and Shavuot is to Jews. It teaches that the universal is never found anywhere else than in the particular and that the perfect might choose to embrace our imperfections. The mercy of Ramadan is endless. Perhaps it touches all our aspirations toward that elusive beloved community.
Muslims celebrate Ramadan by fasting which, we are taught by the Qur’an, was also the observance of the communities before us — we differ perhaps in form, but not in substance. Fasting is for God alone, it has no conceivable worldly benefit, yet other sorts of benefits present themselves in the course of its practice.
Fasting refines us. It shows us who we are and who we might be, it grants us unexpected advantages against our egos and our appetites, it increases our gratitude and our love. Fasting shows us our fragility and our mortality and the great preciousness of other people. It increases our compassion. Through it we discover that Ramadan is the month of compassion.
In Ramadan the treasuries of compassion, the treasuries of forgiveness, and the treasuries of salvation are all open, and people may take as much of them as they need. May the light of this blessed time illuminate all the creatures of the earth, and may ours be among the hands permitted to wipe the tears of the ones who cry. Amin.
Since 1918, the Fellowship of Reconciliation has published the award-winning print magazine Fellowship. It is also now online, offering original grassroots analysis, movement research, first-person commentary, poetry and more to help people of faith and conscience build a nonviolent, compassionate world.
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