Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem!
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Merciful!
Faiths of the World Unite!
Dr. Pasha Issues Call for Joint
Celebration of World Day of Fasting
Faiths of the World Unite!
Faiths of the World unite! For, to parody Marx, what do you have to lose except maybe your prejudice, fear and distrust of one another?
And maybe a little bit of your smugness and arrogance that you alone are right and everyone else is wrong?
For, your shared motto in this time of peril for humanity should be: Serve Humanity or Perish! And that, if you haven’t noticed, is what is happening to so many religions around the world. They are withering on the vine through their lack of relevance and applicability to the human situation in its totality and full diversity.
It is, therefore, in our view, time for the different faiths, religions and cultures of the world to come together to create a common culture of hope for humanity!
Not by compromising or giving up all or any of the core elements of your unique identity or belief, but by exploring commonalities and continuities in your several faiths, belief systems and experiences.
For, as God is the God of all, mutual cooperation should also be the joint motto, spirit and common goal of all – at least all those seriously searching for or sincerely professing faith in God.
And It Makes Perfect Sense
And it makes perfect sense.
For, if the entire universe is one inter-correlated kaleidoscope of diversities and multiplicities, then it makes sense for the ultimate origin and source of that universe to be one too.
Again, it stands to reason that the central message going out from that one central seat of power, knowledge and authority – God Almighty – to the peripheries of the universe should also be one.
That is why all divine sources of guidance to humanity, no matter how you look at them, in one way or another they all come round to talking about one God, the maker and master of all.
The Bible Has Only One God
That could be the reason, do you think, why there is such striking near-unanimity among the Biblical Prophets – and the Bible – in their basic message of monotheism, notwithstanding eons separating some of them from some others?
The Bible and the Prophets agree on one thing: There is only one God.
If Abraham was an uncompromising iconoclast, and monotheist, the first article in the Law of Moses, hundreds of years later, The First Commandment, proclaimed: Thou shalt have no God besides God.
For Jesus, hundreds of years later, the most important commandment was also: Thou shalt have no God besides God.
Don’t take my word for it, read your Bible.
And yet hundreds more years later, the alpha and omega of the message of Muhammad – May God bless him and all the other prophets of God – was Laa Ilaaha Illaa Allah, meaning: There is no God but God.
Hindus claim the freedom to apotheosize, venerate and worship anything that makes sense to them. But the cognoscenti among the followers of the Hindu faith would concede that presiding over all the wealth of numbers and variations in the Hindu pantheon is the Supreme Lord, referred to by many names, including Brahman.
Engage the wise and the learned among Native Americans in a discussion on this topic and they will keep bringing you back to what they would call the Great Being.
So, if, more or less by common consent among the belief systems and faiths of the world, God is one, and his core message to his creation is also one, it makes sense that at least some of the basic practices emanating from that divine source should also be bound by a common thread.
Don’t you think so?
Divine Law of Cooperation
Muslims, why not tell the world a simple and most basic truth about Islam – that Islam is about the divine law of cooperation?
That is right. Divine Law of Cooperation – that is what Islam is all about.
I don’t know. So, help me if you will – Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Which other system – from 1400 years ago – tells its people, in such clear and categorical terms, to let cooperation be the guiding principle in their life?
Which other system – from 1400 years ago – issues a general call to the adherents and practitioners of all other systems in the world to come and sit around a table to thrash things out between them and emerge with a commonly agreed agenda or set of beliefs and principles?
I know for a fact that Islam does those things: from 1400 years ago. Those are then among the guiding principles of the Islamic way of life. At least they should be. Those then should be among the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam, right?
Hear the Qur’an Speak
Don’t take my word for it; hear the Qur’an speak – in God’s own words.
Here is the Qur’an on the subject of cooperation:
Ta’awanoo ‘alal birri wat-taqwaa.
Work together – Cooperate! – in matters that pertain to goodness and that are based on the true fear and love of God. So when it comes to these things -- Birr and Taqwaa: meaning “virtue” and “piety” – make sure you extend your fullest cooperation.
Now tell me something: How can someone, totally illiterate, sitting in a cave somewhere in the barren desert of 7th-Century Arabia issue such a lucid call for cooperation? And also, at the same time, lay out such unerring framework for that cooperation – 1400 years ago?
So, it makes sense that something like this had to have divine roots, correct?
So, let us not forget the divine expression Ta’awun – Cooperation.
Divine Law of Non-Aggression
But that is not all. Now look to see if the call to cooperation is a sweeping and unconditional one.
Let us continue with that beautiful and most glorious and miraculous Aayat of the Qur’an.
And this is what we are going to see: This most amazing and divinely ordained Cooperation Principle stops at the door when there are bad things involved – such as sinning against God or hurting and causing injury to human beings or to God’s other creation.
Divine Law of Non-Aggression. So, there is to be absolutely, positively no cooperation to commit aggression – to causing injury to people and committing all kinds of wrongs and excesses against them.
I did not make up that word. It is the expression the Qur’an uses: ‘Udwaan, which means “Aggression” – pure and simple.
There is no other way to translate it from its original Arabic, the language in which the Qur’an was revealed, and in which it is preserved, and read and recited and committed to memory, to this day – verbatim: just in the form and shape in which it was revealed to and given out by Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
May God Almighty bless him and all the other prophets of God!
So also, there is to be no cooperation when it comes to betraying God’s trust in you and committing all kinds of sins against him.
Want to hear the Qur’an again? Here goes:
Wa laa ta’awanoo ‘alal ithmi wal ‘udwaan.
Do not cooperate when it comes to committing a sin or an act of Aggression – ‘Udwaan in the words of the Qur’an.
So, let us remember this: No Ta’awun when it comes to ‘Udwaan! Meaning: No Cooperation when it comes to Aggression!
I am sorry, but my head is spinning under the momentous impact of these divine expressions. And their relevance to the human situation in all places and at all times, including our own times today.
Divine vs. Human Legislation
This is divine legislation – for all of humanity, and for all times. You violate it, you pay a penalty – just like all other laws in life. And that is what human beings have been doing all their life: Persistently violating God’s laws of Non-Aggression and mandated Cooperation and paying a dear, dear price throughout their history.
It takes your breath away.
These are God’s eternal and invariant laws on earth. Violating them and trifling with them would unleash the floods of all kinds of chaos and mayhem on earth. Entire human history is testimony to the truth and validity of this divine piece of legislation.
Folks, just tell me this: How much clearer does it get? And when, and from what divine or human source, did you last hear a clarion call like this against all forms of aggression?
And then why are we not paying any heed to it? And, instead, why are we continuing to create mayhem and mischief on earth by violating God’s Law of No-Aggression and Mandated Cooperation over and over again?
Don’t quote me the United Nations. For, the UN is but a babe-in-arms, born yesterday. And also, what many people don’t realize is that what the United Nations says today, the United nations can UNSAY or change or go silent about tomorrow.
That is the nature of human legislation – and human life in general.
I am talking, instead, about something that is as eternal and as immutable as an Aayat – a passage – of the Qur’an: From 1400 years ago. I am talking about divine laws, not about human legislation.
And also tell me this: If you don’t think this is from God, then who do you think this is from? Who do you say made this up – something as modern, as profound and as revolutionary as this?
And then, finally as they say, tell me this: How different do you think our world would have been if this Aayat – this miraculous passage from the Qur’an – had been the guiding light of our national and international policies, legislation, ideologies, doctrines and practices over the past hundred years or two?
Islam Is about Finding Common Ground
Given the overarching Cooperation Principle mandated by God, Islam then becomes another name for the process of ceaselessly searching for Common Ground and shared culture.
Islam teaches people to constantly inquire and ask: What is it in our culture, experience and background that may have something in common with what someone else may have in their own culture, experience and background?
The Qur’an, of course, takes the existence of such commonalities and shared experiences among cultures and peoples and societies for granted. After all, the creator knows, right?
God then requires people to make these shared nodes of culture and history the basis for future cooperation and joint enterprise to create a richer human experience overall.
“Come, let us link hands and build on what we share,” says the Qur’an.
Hear the Qur’an outline this most revolutionary idea in its own words – and do so no less than 1400 years ago:
Ta’alau ilaa kalimatin sawaa-in bainanaa wa bainakum.
“Come, let us work together on the basis of our shared beliefs and behaviours.”
That is my paraphrase. More literally, it would translate something like: “Come to an equal ‘word’ between us and you.”
But the word “Kalimah” in Arabic could be deceptively broad. It could mean a word; it could mean an expression; it could mean more. Jesus Christ is referred to in the Qur’an as Kalimah – God’s Word.
Those familiar with the Christian appellation of Jesus as “Word” should marvel at this.
But the point is this:
First, the Qur’an invites those we may consider to be its rivals – the competition as it were – to come work with it.
Second, the Qur’an offers a basis for such potential cooperation: shared belief, behaviour, culture and experience.
So, let us not forget these two divine words: ‘Udwaan (Aggression – NO!) and Ta’awun (Co-operation – YES!).
An Entire Theory of National and International Cooperation
There is an entire political and sociological – not to say cultural and psychological – theory of group, national, institutional and international cooperation and joint enterprise here.
Again, what is most amazing is the loudness, the firmness, the authority and the clarity of these calls.
This phenomenon defies imagination and boggles the mind. In the absence of a more convincing explanation, it only serves to make the God-explanation stronger than ever and makes it unassailable by default: that it is God, and not a human source, that is behind it.
That means this book, Qur’an, with aayat after aayat of this kind, could have come only from one source: God Almighty.
These things then are among the most basic teachings of the Qur’an. I don’t know who else does or does not have them, but this is what the Qur’an teaches: Cooperation (Ta’awun) on a common platform of shared beliefs, views, goals and approaches.
And all this 1400 years ago? Not the most likely thing in human terms, wouldn’t you say?
We can understand this being a plank or an article or chapter in one of the major declarations or charters of a world body in the middle of the 20th Century like the United Nations.
But coming out of the mouth of an illiterate man in a cave in Arabia in early 7th Century? Simply does not make sense.
And that is what a miracle is: something that simply does not make sense in human terms.
Shared Culture of Fasting
So, based on this analysis, what do many cultures and religions of the world have in common? Qur’an says fasting – the shared culture of fasting, Siyaam as the Qur’an calls it.
Do Jews, Christians, Hindus and others have any kind of background or experience in fasting? Sure they do, says the Qur’an.
Is that assertion of the Qur’an independently verifiable in terms of historical records and data? Sure it is.
And the Qur’an makes a point of noting that shared background and experience of fasting among the earlier nations, societies and peoples of the world.
“O those who believe,” says the Qur’an addressing the followers of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. “Fasting is required of you, as it was required of those who were before you.”
In the language of the Qur’an:
Kutiba ‘alaikumus siyaamu kamaa kutiba ‘alal-ladheena min qablikum!
Make a special note of these words: “as it was required of those who were before you.” Give some serious thought to the clarity; the authority; the simplicity; and the historic authenticity of these words.
And then ask yourself: How did an illiterate man sitting in a cave nearly a millennium and a half ago ever manage to get any sense of this historical verity or truth in its full and sweeping spectrum?
And unless you rule out the existence and involvement of God totally and from the beginning – ab initio – what makes more sense:
God is behind it?
A least likely human being all of a sudden hit the biggest cultural, historical and so-called religious jackpot in the world?
Which one of these two explanations, would you say makes more sense to you personally? I mean purely in human terms, as a matter of common sense and simple logic and probability.
A World Day of Fasting
Following the clarion call of the Qur’an for cooperation based on our common cultural, religious and historical heritage, we say:
“People of the world, unite! People of different faiths and cultures and religions of the world, let us all come together to observe a World Day of Fasting!”
This August 15, 2012, Wednesday.
In these troubled times, as the saying goes, let us work to create a new international and inter-cultural alliance of peace, love and hope for humanity among all the diverse and even competing segments of the human population on earth.
Let all of us human beings together celebrate a common World Day of Fasting – this month of Ramadan and every Ramadan thereafter.
Let us do so regardless of all the differences of race, religion, denomination, nationality, culture, territory and everything else that divide and consign us to special, unique and seemingly exclusive bins of history and geography.
Let us rise above our own special coordinates and configurations of time, space, belief and behaviour, and come together as a united human race in the common enterprise of observing the World Day of Fasting together.
And let us do so in this most beautiful and blessed month of Ramadan 1433. And during every Ramadan thereafter.
That means, we hereby call upon all the non-Muslims of the world – all the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and all others on this planet, in every part of the world – to let us all set aside Wednesday, August 15, 2012, to fast together as one human family united in our fellowship of faith in God and in his Prophets and Books.
Let the world’s 5,000,000,000 non-Muslim men and women of all faiths, races, nationalities and political ideologies join their 1,500,000,000 Muslim brothers and sisters around the world in a joint World Day of Fasting.
In the midst of all that may divide and trouble us, in this 2012th year of the birth of our beloved Prophet Jesus, ‘Alaihis Salaam, let us stand united and holding hands on this island of commonness that the Qur’an has created for us, holding aloft the banner of our shared humanity and our joint cultural and faith heritage of Siyaam.
And in doing so, let us turn a new page in human history.
And let us – Muslims as well as non-Muslims everywhere, all the 6,500,000,000 of us or whatever our real number is – together write a new joint chapter of cooperation and shared enterprise in this most glorious, wonderful and divinely scripted book that we refer to as human life on earth: using the twin divine laws of Non-Aggression and Mandated Cooperation.
Let Leadership Everywhere Issue a Common Call
Let leadership – political, religious and all other kinds and forms of leadership – in all parts of the world, issue a call to its following everywhere to join this great march of humanity toward a common cause in the relentless pursuit of common human good: sharing the common and shared experience of fasting together.
Therefore, let leadership everywhere issue a common call for a common World Day of Fasting in this Ramadan 1433 coinciding with 15th of August, 2012.
And let everyone everywhere join this united human caravan of people from different religious and cultural traditions fasting and moving together to a more joyous state of living.
In the meantime, leadership around the world – religious, political, governmental, organizational, United Nations – support our call by issuing a proclamation identifying August 15, 2012 as World Day of Fasting.
But if for some reason some of us cannot do it on that day, let us do it on some other day. Let us do it how best we can. But let us do it. For, that is what Islam is all about: doing things however best we can.
Doing the Best You Can: That Is the Islamic Way
The Islamic way of doing things is doing them how best we can. In fact, that is what Islam is in a nutshell.
“What a Deen!” I keep telling myself. “What a way of life! What a way of doing things! Just do the best you can and leave the rest to God.”
How can we devise a better method? Compared to what God has given us: the method of telling everyone with regard to everything to do the best they can and then leave it at that.
Hear the inimitable Qur’an say it in its most simple and clear manner: Fattaqullaha masta-ta’tum.
“Fear Allah however much you can.” And, perhaps, in all the ways you can.
That means fear, love and obey God Almighty all you can and, of course, to the extent you can and in ways you can. That means bend every fibre of your body, mind and soul and spend every ounce of your energy and resources in doing that.
But, all of it, to the extent and how best you can, because, that is all you can do as a human being. That is how far your powers will carry you. And those are the abilities – and education and skills and resources – with which God has endowed you.
And alerting them, at the same time, not to forget that the eyes of the whole world, and of God Almighty himself, are on them as they act and as they go about doing what they must do.
That means they are not just on candid camera, they are on the divine radar.
Once again, listen to the Qur’an address this issue in its own words that God preserved for us in their original purity and integrity all these 1400 years:
Quli’amaloo fa-sa-yarallahu ‘amalakum wa rasooluhu wal mu’minoon.
Say to them, go and do what you must. Surely God and his blessed messenger, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and the believers all will watch you keenly.
So, everyone, everywhere: “Forward March, United Children of God! United Faiths of the World! On to the World Day of Fasting! On to a Common Culture of Hope for Humanity!”
World Day of Fasting 2012: Ramadan 1433 – The How-To Part
But the question is: How do we do it?
Muslims generally know these things – the routine procedures of fasting I mean – because fasting during the month of Ramadan has been so much a part of their culture and tradition for so long. And starting right at childhood.
But how about non-Muslims – close to 5,000,000,000 of them that we are inviting to come and join their 1,500,000,000 Muslim compatriots of the world in fasting together on this 2012 World Day of Fasting, coinciding with 1433 Ramadan? What are they supposed to do? And how are they supposed to do it?
Here are some ideas to help the non-Muslims of the world on how best they could go about observing the World Day of Fasting.
So, let us start out by posting here the flyer we created for the occasion. I shall then follow that up with some comments and specific pointers.