Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fast during Ramadan to understand Muslims and Islam, says Mayor of London

'Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said non-Muslims should fast and even go to the mosque during Ramadan to enhance understanding of their ‘Muslim neighbour’ and ‘find out more about Islam.’

Speaking during a visit to the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre last week, Mr Johnson said he is urging people to find out more about Islam, increase understanding and learning, fast with Muslims and even visit their local mosque.

Mr Johnson’s visit coincided with the period of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and other activities.

‘Whether it's in theatre, comedy, sports, music or politics, Muslims are challenging the traditional stereotypes and showing that they are, and want to be, a part of the mainstream community,’ he said.

‘That's why I urge people, particularly during Ramadan, to find out more about Islam, increase your understanding and learning, even fast for a day with your Muslim neighbour and break your fast at the local mosque. I would be very surprised if you didn’t find that you share more in common than you thought.

‘Muslims are at the heart of every aspect of society. Their contribution is something that all Londoners benefit from. Muslim police officers, doctors, scientists and teachers are an essential part of the fabric of London.

‘Islamic finance is contributing to the economy by changing the way Londoners invest, save, borrow and spend. There are valuable lessons that people of all backgrounds can learn from Islam such as the importance of community spirit, family ties, compassion and helping those less fortunate, all of which lie at the heart of the teachings of Ramadan,’ Mr Johnson added.

The Mayor of London is not the first who suggested this approach. The Home Office Islamic Network has already offered similar activity for Home Office staff. Para 6, a paragraph directed at non-Muslims, of the official guidelines of the Islamic Network states:

• In general, this is a time for staff and managers to gain some knowledge and insight into the Muslim faith. It is also an opportunity to promote better understanding between staff, especially as much of the current media focus on Islam is often quite negative.

• In practical terms, please be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim colleague who is fasting. This can make an individual feel hungrier and make it more challenging to observe the fast. This will vary from person to person and will obviously depend on the food!

• Perhaps you may also wish to have a go at fasting for a day yourself? This could increase understanding and empathy for colleagues who are fasting.

Management and human resources authorities across the country have issued advice and guidance in preparation for Islamic festivals and traditions.'

Instead of this Boris should get the tubes running, especially when people want to go to Lord's and find, for the second match one attended in a row, the line is closed.

Ramadan is counter productive. Work suffers. Yes, learn about Islam from your Muslim friends but do not follow their religion. Christians fast. It is done in secret as a voluntary aid to prayer.

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