Dear St. Francis College community,
As we are concluding the observations of Jewish Passover, Christian Easter, and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, we reflect on how these three Abrahamic religions share deep interrelationships, which is not widely known or acknowledged. Fasting, for example, is a practice present in varied forms in all these divine religions.
The practicing faithful among the 1.8 million highly diverse Islamic followers globally are concluding their month-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan this evening (United States time). Eid al-Fitr (festival of breaking the fast), one of the most significant celebrations for the believers in Islam and friends, begins this evening with iftar and the end of fasting.
St. Francis College extends greetings for Eid to the Muslim brothers and sisters in our College community and in communities beyond.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Lunar (Hijri) calendar, which this year is 1442. Ramadan is the most spiritual and communal time for Muslims. It is the month during which God (Allah) revealed to Mohammad who became the prophet of Islam. It is also during the month of Ramadan that Quran, the holy book of Islam, is revealed to Prophet Mohammad. During Ramadan, Muslims focus on spiritual goals and values, seek closeness to God, reflect on human frailty, cleanse their body by fasting, identify with the hungry and less fortunate, and provide charity. The purposeful practice of daylight fasting during Ramadan is one of the five central pillars of Islam.
Ramadan is also one of the most communal times when the faithful frequent places of worship for prayer and spiritual nourishment. When families, relatives, and friends come together in the evening for Iftar (breaking of the daily fast) and elaborate dinners and delicious pastries.
However, the celebration of Ramadan last year and this year—with the global coronavirus pandemic and its lockdowns, social distancing, and toll on lives—has been totally different. But the pandemic highlights the intent of Ramadan ever more. Quran says "The Believers are but a single brotherhood" and uniting to care for one another, especially for the vulnerable, the poor, and the sick, is a religious duty. It is also during the most communal and festive Eid al-Fetr tomorrow that charity and care for the poor and those in need is magnified.
As a Franciscan community with passion for charity, radical hospitality, inclusion, and deep care for each other, we seek solidarity with the increasing number of Muslim students, faculty, staff among us and earnestly seek to build bridges of understanding and interfaith collaboration in pluralism spirit with the Islamic communities surrounding us.
Happy Eid to all,
Reza Fakhari, Ph.D.
Vice President for Internationalization