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The God Squad: Ramadan Mubarack

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

This is a holy time of the year for all the major religions of the world. We are in the time of Lent leading up to Easter for Christians. On April 15 Jews will celebrate Passover (which is also Good Friday). Last week, Hindus celebrated Holi, the second holiest holiday of Hinduism (after Diwali), and on May 15 Buddhists will celebrate Wesack, which is their holiest day in celebration of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama — the Buddha. And on Saturday, April 2, Muslims around the world will observe the beginning of their holiest month — the month of Ramadan. We are blessed this springtime to celebrate an absolute surfeit of world spirituality.

Let me wish all our Muslim readers a Ramadan Mubarack, “A blessed Ramadan” and let me try to explain to our non-Muslim readers just a bit about this remarkable religious ritual observed by over 90 percent of the almost 2 billion Muslims here on planet Earth, which means that roughly one out of every four people on the planet will be celebrating Ramadan beginning this week.

First, some common misconceptions and little-known facts about Islam:

– Most all Arabs are Muslims but most Muslims are not Arabs. Only about 20 percent of Muslims are Arabs. Turkey and Iran are the largest non-Arab countries and the largest is Indonesia.

– Muslim clerics called Imams, unlike rabbis and priests and Buddhist monks and nuns, are usually not employed full time as clerics but have other jobs and take on their religious duties in addition to their secular work.

– The preferred name for a Muslim House of Worship is not “Mosque” but “Masjid”. Mosque was a French name.

 

– Muslim men and women can pray together in the same room. In most masjids there are usually customs that have the men pray in the front followed by children and then women.

– There are no pictures or statues in a Masjid. Decorations in a Masjid are usually verses from the Quran and never ever a picture of The Prophet, which could be considered idolatrous or disrespectful.

– The Muslim calendar is unique among world religions because it is a pure lunar calendar which means that it is about 11 days shorter than the solar year. What this means is that Ramadan is one of the very few world religious holidays that is not connected to harvest times or any other agricultural event. It means that the time for the beginning of Ramadan floats throughout the year. One of my favorite Muslim blessings is, “May you celebrate Ramadan in every season of the year.”

Now, let’s return to Ramadan news.

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