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This is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. Ramadan begins today, at sunset.

My faith tradition speaks to the idea that all religious faiths are to be honored, and their practices respected, so long as they do not violate the principle of respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

I always include that last part. As is typical of Unitarian Universalism, I accept a belief if it seems valid to me; we have no Creed we recite and require all believers to espouse.

Back to Ramadan--I wanted to learn more about it. Here is what I found (paraphrased):

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and worship. Muslims are expected to fast during the daylight hours, and resistance to all temptations is expected. The lessons of Ramadan are self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice (charity), and empathy for the less fortunate. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran.

"Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need."

Over time, the breaking of the fast after sundown has grown into banquet festivals. There are social gatherings with families, friends and surrounding communities, and there may also be ingatherings at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.

As is true of all faiths, Islam has on the one hand its spiritual and religious side and on the other its social side, which has developed over time by custom and habit. Before we point out that gluttony and revelry at night is hardly in the spirit of cleansing and enlightenment, we might think of our own Santas and reindeer and candy and Christmas dinner and buy, buy, buy.

Interesting learning about Ramadan. I'll have to ask my friends how they carry out their observances here in the United States.

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