Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ramadan Mubarak!

So, yesterday began the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. I'm not sure if any Muslims will read this post, but, if any of you do, my sincere good wishes for the fast.

I can imagine some eyebrows being raised at a Catholic Apologist wishing Muslims well in something tied to their religion. So that there are no misunderstandings, let me be clear; I believe public revelation ended with Christ and His apostles. For this  reason (and a number of other reasons) I believe that my Islamic friends are mistaken in their belief that Muhammad was a prophet. Logically enough, I therefor believe that they are mistaken in thinking that the Ramadan fast is something God commanded. To get an idea of why I reject Islam, you can watch my debate with Abdullah Kunde.

For all that I disagree with my Muslim friends, however, there are many things they a right about. One of those things is the importance of fasting. Fasting is not a specifically Christian or Islamic thing, but is a spiritual practice common to a great many of the world religions. For the Christian fasting is something Christ commands us to do (cf. Matt 9:15) and recommended by many of the saints a spiritual masters throughout history. I find it a source of some sadness that many Catholics today fast so rarely and would be very happy if a growing familiarity with Islam would help to encourage Catholics to reconsider fasting within our own spiritual tradition. So, while I don't believe the Ramadan fast to be divinely inspired, I admire the dedication of my Muslim friends on this point. I also think it is reasonable to hope that those who observe the fast in a sincere (even if mistaken) belief that it is God's command will be blessed by Him for doing so.

What really inspired me to write, however, was this news story. Apparently Woolworths supermarkets have been putting up signs in some stores wishing people a "Happy Ramadan". I have to say, wishing someone a happy fast strikes me as odd, but I guess their hearts were in the right place.

Some people, however, are upset, labelling the wishes as offensive and "Unaustralian." This annoys me, although it also amuses me a little. If you are an Australia who is anything other than (a) an Indigenous Australian, or (b) of pure White Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage, the odds are pretty good that you are descended from someone who was once labelled "Unaustralian." This is particularly the case if you are a Catholic who is inclined to join the "Islam is Unaustralian" chorus. If you are such a person, can I suggest that you have a look at what was being said about your own religion seventy or so years ago. Indeed, I'm occasionally tempted to write a FaceBook post that would go something like:

First, we need to kick out all the Muzzies. They are probably all terrorists, or at least terrorist supporters ,and this is a Christian country and if they don't like it they can all go back to Arabia where they came from.

Then, we need to kick out all the Catholics. They put loyalty to Vatican City above loyalty to Australia and most of them are probably IRA members and if they don't like the religion of our protestant majority and our protestant Queen then they are all free to got live in Italy.

If you think the second paragraph is not the sort of thing anyone would say, do a bit of reading. I've read some of what was being said about Australian Catholics back in 30s by some of our protestant neighbours (not all of them, of course) and the above is only a slight exaggeration.

In any event, Woolworths gets an A for effort at least, and I wish my Muslim friends a sincere Ramadan Mubarak.

1 comment:

  1. Being old enough to remember, and inclined to take part - it got nastier still; suggesting that since Catholics bred like rabbits a Catholic specific strain of myxomatosis should be developed was a tired old saw.

    But...the other side was there as well. The idiots who blame Islamic terrorism on Western Imperialism blamed the PLO and others on British Imperialism (never mind that Irish Catholics had been pro-Empire in the 19thC); the art of ignoring horrors in the Middle East was practiced with South America and Spain; denying genocides in Yugoslavia was training for denying them in Africa.
    We're reaping the whirlwind now.