#6 - October 30, 2003
Dear Friends of the Badaliya,
Friday marks the 41st anniversary of the death of Louis Massignon who died on All Souls Day, October 31, 1962. At the request of the town of Pordic in Brittany where the Massignon Family tomb is located, The Association of Friends of Louis Massignon organize an evening dedicated to Louis Massignon every year at this time. It is held in the Cultural Center there which is consecrated to him. This year it is focused on the father of Louis Massignon, Ferdinand Massignon who was known as the artist, engraver and sculptor, Pierre Roche.
It was very important to Louis Massignon to pray in solidarity with the Muslim community during the month long fast of Ramadan which begins this week. From his letters to the Badaliya we have learned that he dedicated every Friday during this month to prayer and fasting for peace and reconciliation in the Near East and Holy Land.
The Fast of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam followed by Muslim believers. It falls during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar because that is the month when the Prophet Muhammed received the first revelation of the Qur'an. Devout Muslims abstain from food, drink and sexual activity from dawn to sunset every day for the month. In Islam the discipline of the Ramadan fast is intended to stimulate reflection on human frailty and dependence on God, focusing attention on spiritual goals and values, and identification with, and response to those less fortunate. At dusk the fast is broken and families and friends gather for special late night meals with specialties only served at this time of year. Many go to the Mosque for evening prayer, some recite the entire Qur'an in parts divided throughout the month and rise before dawn for their first meal of the day. On the 27th day near the end of Ramadan the "Night of Power", when Muhammed received the first revelation, is comemorated. At the end of Ramadan two major feasts are celebrated including the Breaking of the Fast, called Eid al-Fitr resembling Christmas in its joyfulness and gift giving.
In our Badaliya prayer this week-end we will remember Ramadan and our Muslim friends along with Louis Massignon and the souls of all those who have died in Irak, Afghanistan and the Holy Land working and hoping for peace and reconciliation.
May I recommend a recent book by John W. Kiser called "The Monks of Tibhirine" for an appreciation of the struggle for independence in Algeria that was so dear to Massignon's Badaliya prayer. The Christian monks who tragically died there in 1996 had dedicated their lives to their Muslim friends and neighbors very much in the spirit of Louis Massignon.
Our Boston Badaliya prayer group will meet at 3pm on Sunday, November 2nd in the Catholic Chapel at Brandeis University.Please join us in spirit as we pray for an end to violence in the Middle East and the Holy Land.
Peace to you.