496: Ramadan is coming: Muslims and non-Muslims can use some inspiration

The fasting month of Ramadan begins on Friday for more than 1 billion Muslims around the world and it’s going to be a real challenge this year for Muslims living in the northern Hemisphere—because the fast runs from dawn to dark each day.
    Imagine maintaining your regular work schedule in the summer heat, when you’ve made a solemn pledge that nothing shall pass your lips during daylight hours. Not so much as a drop of water. Then, after dark? There’s often a big family dinner waiting, followed by a visit to a mosque for prayers and a recitation from the Quran. It’s a hugely challenging season. Keep a compassionate eye out starting this week for Muslim relatives, friends or co-workers—or, if you’re a student or teacher, offer a kind word to Muslim students returning to school soon.
    But, don’t pity our Muslim friends! Learn from them!

    I have Muslim friends around the world and, although I come from a Christian background as editor of ReadTheSpirit, I can tell you this: Christians can learn a whole lot from the spiritual disciplines—and the spiritual gifts—in this season of fasting, prayer, community events and celebration of scriptures.
    This can be a dazzingly refreshing month for Muslims. Tiring, yes. Tough, yes. But the name of the Ramadan book we publish is, “The Beauty of Ramadan,” by Najah Bazzy. For most Muslims, it is a beautiful time of the year.

    TODAY, take a look at the www.SharingRamadan.info Web site. We are revamping that section of our online magazine this week for the month of Ramadan. We’ve published an absolute gem of a story today, whether you’re Muslim or non-Muslim. Head over to that page and watch the video. It’ll add a smile to your day.
    TUESDAY, you’ll hear from Raad Alawan, the journalist who partnered with ReadTheSpirit in 2008 for the debut of the popular, SharingRamadan. This year, Raad did the lion’s share of the work in producing short, inspiring stories from the daily lives of ordinary men and women—folks perhaps like your own friends and neighbors wherever you may live around the world.
    WEDNESDAY, this week, we emphasize the universal nature of spiritual disciplines by switching faiths for a Conversation With Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who takes us into the rich spiritual wisdom of 12-step programs. Now, wait! You may think that, just because you’re not an alcoholic or a drug user or gambler, 12-step discipline offers nothing for you. Quite the opposite is true! That’s what Rabbi Shapiro argues in his new book, “Recovery: The 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice,” by Skylight Paths.
    You’ll be surprised at how well the wisdom Rabbi Shapiro shares with us dovetails with the core lessons of Ramadan! This is going to be a wonderful week of inspiring stories.
    FRIDAY, Ramadan begins and we’ll be publishing regular Ramadan-themed stories at the www.SharingRamadan.info Web site—and here at ReadTheSpirit as well.

    FINALLY, THROUGHOUT RAMADAN, whether you’re Muslim or non-Muslim, you might want to study the Quran—the scriptures of Islam. Of course, Muslims are expected to enjoy the Quran throughout Ramadan, since the fasting month honors the gift of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. But Christians and Jews may be surprised to discover how much of the Quran’s content is a series of stories about familiar biblical figures. Christians will find stories about Mary, the birth of Jesus and Jesus’ ministry, for example, in the Quran. This special Quran-Ramadan class is available through our friends at Spirituality & Practice. The complete course costs $40, and you can find out more about it by visiting the Spirituality & Practice site.


    The most important thing we want you to do in this coming month—and in the Jewish High Holidays coming a month later—is to share your stories, reflections, questions, ideas and news with us. Click Here to send us an Email. Or, you can click on “Share Your Story,” a prominent link at the www.SharingIslam.info Web site.
    We want to hear from you. And, most importantly, our readers enjoy hearing from other readers. Please, take a moment to share with us!

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