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Celebrating Our Sources: Islam

 

Islam image

From the Unitarian Universalist Association of   Congregations

The Living Tradition we share draws from many sources:

Wisdom from the World’s religions inspire us in our ethical and spiritual life.

Islam

We find ourselves heading toward the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan on this July day, 2014. 

Millions of Muslim adults around the world mark the holy month by fasting from dawn to dusk, taking no food or drink.  They also refrain from smoking and sexual intimacy.   Exceptions are made for the elderly, young children, the ill, pregnant and nursing women, travelers, and those doing heavy manual labor.  This fast is the third of the five Pillars of Islam, and is an obligation for believers.  The fast ends with the Feast Day, Eid-al-Fitr, occurring with the rising of the new moon, on July 29 this year.  Practicing Muslims see this fast as a time of mental jihad, a time of personal spiritual quest, performed without spilling anyone’s blood.

 Thus we mark this time by acknowledging the star and crescent banner in our sanctuary as symbolic of Islam, one of the major world religions, and a source of wisdom teaching for us.   Curiously, scholars tell us that neither the crescent nor the stars are mentioned as symbols of Islam in the Quran.  However,  the  color  green is mentioned several times.  In Paradise,  the  faithful  are said to be clothed  in green silk.  The new moon , a thin crescent, plays a role in ending the fast of Ramadan, suggesting  that it might be a source of the crescent.  However, one scholar noted that the symbolic  use of the crescent moon and stars,  predates  Islam by several centuries , as ancient peoples used these symbols to pay  tribute to their  gods and goddesses of nature. 

The crescent moon and stars first became affiliated with Islam in 1453,  when the symbols appeared  on a flag  of  the  Ottoman  Empire  after  its conquest of Byzantium (Constantinople). Eventually  these  icons  appeared on the  banners of other Islamic states . The custom continues today.   If Muslims around the world today were asked to select an appropriate symbol for their faith,  they might choose  Arabic  calligraphy of the one of the many names  of Allah, since this calligraphy  has formed  the  magnificent  decorative  art  of  palaces  and  mosques since the early  days of the faith. 

The medieval Persian Saadi, a prominent Islamic poet,  tells us:

 To worship God is nothing other than to serve the people.

It does not need rosaries, prayer carpets, or robes.

All peoples are members of the same body, created from one essence.

If fate brings suffering to one member

The others cannot stay at rest.

                                                                       

                                                                                    (prepared by Josephine Leach, July 21,2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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