This year, Ramadan will be like no other. No communal prayers in the mosques.  No public gatherings in halls for iftar.  Not even large family gatherings at home for iftar. You will pray and gather with just the immediate family.  No communal tarawih prayers in the mosques at night.  And at the end of Ramadan, no communal gatherings for Eid prayers, or for Eid celebrations.  It will indeed be very strange for you.

I know, because we Christians have just celebrated our biggest feast, Easter, with similar restrictions:  no communal liturgies, no public celebrations, everything done in the privacy of our homes, accessing prayer services through live-streaming, and meeting and greeting each other only by phone or Zoom or Skype.

My Muslim sisters and brothers, even though we will be physically distant from each other in the coming weeks, each isolated in our own home, I want to assure you that you are not alone.  As Muslims, you belong to the ummah, so are linked to each other by the shared beliefs, pillars and communal spirit of Islam. But you are also linked to us, and we to you: believers – by our shared faith in the one God; and all of us – by our shared humanity.

We share your anxiety at this time of the coronavirus pandemic, as you share ours.  We share the stress of the disruption that this has brought to all our lives—I thank you for the food and provisions you deliver to the vulnerable and others who are isolated and in need at this troubled time—and together we share prayers and hopes that it will soon be over, in sha Allah!  Besides, God watches over us all, giving protection, healing and mercy.

As an expression of connecting with you at this time, here is my commitment:

  • I will fast with you every day during Ramadan.
  • I will pray for you every day during Ramadan.
  • I will break my fast at the same time as you, at maghrib, every evening during Ramadan.
  • I will have an iftar at my home at the same time as you during Ramadan.

In this way, although physically isolated, we will remain socially and, especially, spiritually connected – stronger than ever – together!

I pray every blessing from Almighty God on you, your families, and your communities, during the blessed month of Ramadan:

By the physical discipline of your fasting, the spiritual devotion of your hearts, and the generosity of your almsgiving, may you find grace and favour in God’s eyes.  Amen.

رمضان مبارك   Ramadan Mubarak!

As a Christian, I deliberately address you as “sisters and brothers”.  I follow Pope Francis and Sheikh Tayyeb who together wrote in the Document on Human Fraternity, “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.” http://bit.ly/2Vf7u3e

The video clip of this message on FB: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianMuslimRelations/videos/510560189613515/