Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 01:58 AM EDT, 20 July 2012
MIDDLE EAST, ASIA, & AFRICA – Across the globe 1 billion Muslims have begun to celebrate Ramadan 2012 which will start on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue until Saturday, the 18th of August. For the next 30 days, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink, sex, and other physical needs from sun up to sundown.
During this time, observant and non-observant Muslims are challenged to reevaluate their lives and make the appropriate adjustments to bring their actions and lifestyle back in line with Islamic teachings. Adherents are commanded to make peace with those who have wronged them or whom they have wronged, resist engaging in bad habits, help the poor, purify their souls and refocus on God.
The holiday occurs amidst numerous conflicts which continue to besiege the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Springs. Most notably: the ongoing civil war in Syria, the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the death of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi at the hands of rebel fighters.
Just like the Syrian government remains at odds with its citizens and other nations with the exception of Russia and China; it has also set itself apart by proclaiming that Ramadan will begin on Saturday, 21 July 2012.
Internecine conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims regarding religious interpretation is particularly evident during this holy month. The differences between the two streams are quite complex and historically rooted in the dispute over succession following the death of the Prophet Mohammed.
Thus, “Dar al-Fatwa, the highest religious authority for Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, announced on Thursday that Friday will be the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. While the Higher Islamic Shiite Council declared that the first day of Ramadan will start on Saturday.” (Source: yaLibnan)
Today, the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawi, which is a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam, announced that Ramadan will begin on Saturday. But, the Syrian National Council which seeks to overthrow the Assad government said that the holy day will be observed starting Friday.
In a grand gesture, Egypt’s newly elected President Mohammed Morsi ‘righted wrong doing’ by pardoning 572 pro-democracy activists who were arrested during protests for regime change. While Israeli President Shimon Peres extended a Ramadan Kareem greeting via video to Muslims worldwide. (Watch Here)
During this month of Ramadan, Muslims are challenging themselves personally and communally to continue their commitment to God, to achieving peace, and promoting greater understanding of their faith and culture.
It is incumbent upon the rest of us to meet moderate Muslims half-way if we as a human race ever expect to achieve peaceful coexistence with all people despite country of origin, culture, or religious practices.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report
- Muslim Religious Leaders Declare Friday the Start of Ramadan (voanews.com)
- PM Ramadan messsage remembers Syria (standard.co.uk)
- Mideast Nations Declare Friday Start of Ramadan (world.time.com)
- Mideast Nations Declare Friday Start of Ramadan (abcnews.go.com)