Zamboanga city (Agenzia Fides) - The Muslim faithful in the Philippines, an Asian nation with a strong Catholic majority where there is a Muslim community of about six million souls, concentrated in the south of the archipelago, have started the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on March 22 for Muslims around the world.
While the community of Muslim believers living in Manila gathers at the "Golden Mosque" in Quezon City, on the large island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, the Islamic-Christian dialogue movement "Silsilah" (which means "chain"), initiated by the missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIMA), Father Sebastiano D'Ambra, promotes experiences of dialogue and closeness with those who profess Islam in a territory where tensions and violence are still the order of the day.
In a message published by "Silsilah" for the start of Ramadan, it is recalled that "in a society that is losing its spiritual values, Ramadan reminds us all that fasting and prayer are important. We must inspire each other, Christians and Muslims, goodwill and love". In addition, in 2023 there is a crucial peculiarity: "This year, Ramadan coincides with Christian Lent: for both communities, each with its specificity, this means giving time and space to penance and prayer, which form the heart of man to the love of God and to mercy towards his neighbour. This is the basis for living harmonious coexistence between our communities".
Recalling "the importance of fasting and prayer", the message notes that "these practices make it possible to live a life close to God" and in fact unite Muslims and Christians, "even if they differ in their faith and their teachings about God". The movement notes: "In fact, we believe in the same God, creator of all. Humanity is going through a difficult time. Wars and calamities beset us. It is important to strengthen the common desire to help each other, guided by the spirit of prayer and penance which is also expressed in mutual cooperation and solidarity". The appeal launched is to "respond to this reality by doing what we can and helping each other, moving together as brothers and sisters", and "to open the door of our hearts to people of other religions". "We are part of the same human family and together we form a human fraternity", recalls the text.
In addition, Muslims are invited during Ramadan to pay special attention to giving alms to orphans, the needy, travelers and beggars. "This is a strong invitation that all of us, Muslims and Christians, must imitate, seeking and living fraternal charity", says the text.
The message concludes: "In the Silsilah movement, we believe that we, Christians and Muslims, together with people of other faiths, must remain steadfast in our faith in God and share kindness and love for all. If this practice becomes more visible, we enter into a deeper dialogue that helps us to build a new society together. Let us begin to do our part in building it together, starting from the foundation: dialogue with God, dialogue with ourselves, with others and with creation. Let us pray that we can build a new society together on the basis of harmony, solidarity and peace". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/3/2023)
ASIA/HOLY LAND - Gaza, Holy Week under the bombs. Father Romanelli: even from here we continue to announce the victory of the Risen One
ASIA/BANGLADESH - "The widow's offering": the Lenten offerings of poor Bangladeshis for works of charity
ASIA/PAKISTAN - During the month of Ramadan, interreligious iftars are an opportunity for interreligious dialogue
EUROPE/CYPRUS - "Rooted in hope". Symposium on the present and future of the Catholic Churches in the Middle East on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente"