May 16, 2021.
Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic we will gather together remotely for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday May 16, 2021 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, and for an end to the pandemic with recovery of health for the world.
For many days after the Resurrection on Easter, Christ appeared on many occasions to his disciples encouraging them to recognize him and promising to send them the Holy Spirit after his return to God, the One he called, Father. Since the 4th century, the feast of the Ascension, when Christ leaves the earth, is celebrated by Eastern and Western Christians on the fortieth day after Easter. A new relationship is established with God as well as with the disciples. For the following ten days until Pentecost, the Church celebrates this final triumph of the risen Lord. This last act of redemption brings all the baptized into the body of Christ, into participation in the divine life.
Last week, as Christians celebrated the Ascension of Christ on our Easter pilgrimage towards Pentecost, the Muslim community came to the last days of Ramadan, their month-long journey of fasting prayer, and almsgiving, beginning with the special night, called Laylat-al-Qadr and the joyous celebration of the final Breaking of the Fast, called Eid al-Fitr. Laylat-al-Qadr, The Night of Power, or Destiny, is traditionally celebrated on the night of the 27th day of Ramadan. It is the holiest night of the year for Muslims as it commemorates the night that the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with the exhortation "Read, in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists)." (Found in Surat Al-Alaq. translation by Muhsin Khan) Surah Al-Qadr in the Qur'an says:
We have indeed revealed this (message) on the Night of Power: And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein comes down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand: Peace!... This, until the rise of morn."
The exact day for Laylat-Al-Qadr is not specified in the Qur'an but the Prophet is said to have simply stated: "Search for Laylat-al-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan." Therefore, the final ten days of Ramadan can be of special significance for Muslims who may spend the entire ten days praying or listening to readings from the Qur'an in the Mosque. The special gift of Laylat-al-Qadr is a blessing and the forgiveness of all the year's past sins. A Hadith remembered by a companion of the Prophet by Bukhari Vol.1, Book 2:34 states: Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (and not to show off,) then all his past sins will be forgiven.
The founder of the Badaliya, Louis Massignon, not only entered into the Ramadan fast in solidarity with the Muslim community every year, but took to heart the feast of Laylat-al Qadr. For the atonement of his own sins, and perhaps even for that of the whole Christian community, Massignon celebrated a Mass dedicated to the Muslim feast and gathered members of the Badaliya movement together for their monthly evening of Adoration, prayer and reflection. Following Massignon's tradition, members of our Badaliya USA offered a Mass for our faith sharing group in solidarity with our Muslim friends, and the larger Muslim community, on Sunday May 9th, the date this year of the Muslim feast.
Eid-al-Fitr, the Breaking of the Fast, is celebrated on the final 2 to 3 days of Ramadan depending on the country, each of which has their special Eid traditions. After the Eid prayer, the celebration includes charitable acts of giving money to the poor and needy. Much like our Easter celebrations, Eid-al-Fitr includes dressing up in new clothes, festive meals and giving of gifts to the children. In Turkey, the holiday is called Ramadan Bayram. A traditional Bayram wish from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul states: "Let us Love. Let us be loved".
Perhaps in this second year of a worldwide pandemic, we are being starkly reminded of just how interconnected we are as a human family and dependent on the health and well-being of every other nation on earth. Once again, for our safety and the safety of others, we have had to carefully modify our religious and family traditions of Ramadan, Lent and Easter. It is in the breaking of the Ramadan fast and the joy of a shared meal with family and friends that Laylat-al-Qadr and Eid-al-Fitr continues to give life to Muslims today. This giving of the Divine Word unified the ancient tribes of Arabia and communities of Muslims all over the world and continues to do so.
In the Breaking of the Bread, the disciples of Jesus recognized Christ risen on that first Easter day. May our sharing of a meal with friends and family always be a reminder of so much that we have in common with all other human beings no matter the color of their skin, their ethnic or religious identity or gender identification. And may we celebrate one another with every shared meal, as a gift of the Divine Spirit of Love.
Peace to you,
(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)