ASIA/MALAYSIA - The feast at the end of Ramadan lived "in the authentic spirit of Easter, to celebrate a dawn of peace and fraternity"

Monday, 8 April 2024 islam   dialogue   ramadan  

Miri (Agenzia Fides) - In Miri, a Malaysian city in the province of Sarawak (in Malaysian Borneo), less than 100 meters away are the "Masjid An Naim" mosque and the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd. There is mutual hospitality between the communities. On Fridays, the church opens its gate to allow Muslims to park their vehicles during prayer time, while on Sundays, the mosque does the same. Christian faithful of the church and the Muslim faithful of the mosque come together on special occasions for each other's religious holidays. It is the spirit of dialogue and interreligious closeness that characterized the time of the holy month of Ramadan and its conclusion (between 8 and 10 April), the celebration of Id-al-fitr, in numerous places in Malaysia, a multi-religious multicultural country. Joint meetings sanctioned the special bond that has developed, in particular, between Christian and Muslim communities in the province of Sarawak. As Fides learned, the religious communities of Miri today share spaces, facilities, events "and for them it is so natural that it is part of their daily way of life", explained the Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Poh Hoon Seng, noting that the people of Sarawak "show that they are truly a big family, not in slogans but in everyday life". The Catholic faithful have joined the Muslims at various times during Ramadan, and they do so also in celebrating the end of the holy month, on the feast of Id al-Fitr. And they do so in the spirit of Easter, "whose authentic meaning is to celebrate a new dawn of peace, fraternity and mutual love with a God resurrected from a tomb where death was defeated", said the Archbishop.
It should not be forgotten, he continued, that "racial and religious intolerance continues to manifest itself from time to time in the country, with acts of hostility that create tensions and divisions within society," but precisely because of this, he noted, "there is a need for greater understanding and respect for the diversity that exists in our country and, to work for harmony".
Archbishop Simon Poh said he visited the Islamic State Information Center on Good Friday and shared the spiritual celebration of fasting "in a spirit of fraternity, friendship and strengthening mutual understanding and mutual respect".
The Archbishop also presented the Message of the Vatican Dicastery for interreligious dialogue for the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, entitled "Christians and Muslims: extinguish the fire of war and light the candle of peace", inviting us to "look together at the Almighty as the God of peace, the source of peace, who loves all those who dedicate their lives to the service of peace in a special way". Monsignor Simon Poh said that faith in Christ is concretely expressed by loving God and being at the service to one's neighbour, contributing to the "common good" of society, wishing "brothers and sisters of other faiths peace, joy and hope, sharing in the work of making our nation and our world a better place for all".
A large "interreligious Iftar" was also organized by the Muslim Council of Elders in Kuala Lumpur, with the participation of numerous Christian leaders, including Msgr. Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. Numerous Muslim personalities emphasized the importance of interreligious dialogue in the creation of peace and asked the faithful to make an effort to get to know people of other religions. The Christian faithful present appreciated the opportunity to come together with people from different backgrounds, emphasizing the importance of promoting understanding and cooperation between different faith communities. The Muslim Council of Elders stressed the vital importance of supporting peace and mutual acceptance within Malaysian society. In a world troubled by wars and discord, the end-of-Ramadan celebration "represents a poignant reminder of our common humanity, illustrating the profound capacity for unity and compassion among all individuals and peoples," the Council said. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/4/2024)