In keeping with PICNA’s ongoing mission to work towards interfaith harmony, PICNA’s President, Chaudhry Sadiq, met with Ted Pitts, Chief of Staff to South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley on Monday, October 1, 2014. Ted Pitts has been with Governor Haley since she took office in January, 2011.
The meeting concluded with the mutual agreement to continue PICNA’s cooperation with the Office of the Governor to achieve their common goals of interfaith peace in South Carolina and the greater society of North America.
By Carl D. Evans
Compassion. What is it? What do the various religions teach about it? What can we learn from each other about compassion? How do we move from talking about compassion to doing acts of compassion?
These are some of the questions under consideration by the Board of Directors and Advisory Council of Interfaith Partners of South Carolina. IPSC began four years ago as a statewide interfaith organization. The partnership includes ten religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Native American Spirituality, Paganism, Unitarian Universalism, and the Baha’i Faith. IPSC’s mission is to foster understanding and cooperation among the religious groups in South Carolina.
“In the wealth of a rich person, there is a portion which belongs to the poor…” (Quran 51:19)
“O Prophet, take out charity from the believer’s wealth so that their money and their souls are purified…” (Quran 9:103)
Islam in its origin is a spiritual and social idea. The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was born in a tribal, nomadic society where sociopolitical order did not exist. So the development of religion (scripture, prayers etc.) and the development of sociopolitical order (law, authority and citizenship) went hand in hand in the life and teachings of the Prophet.
Caliph Umar and Jerusalem
During the period of the Second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the Muslim forces, under the command of Abu Ubaydah, laid siege to Jerusalem after capturing Damascus in the Battle of Yarmuk. Six months into the siege, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, stated that he would negotiate only with Caliph Umar and that no Muslims could enter Jerusalem before Caliph Umar. On hearing this Caliph Umar informed his general Abu Ubaydah that he was on his way.
Accompanied by a servant, Caliph Umar rode on camelback to Jerusalem from Medina. The two travelled alone, although they could have been accompanied by an entourage that could have made the ground tremble under the hooves of their horses. The servant and the Caliph took turns, one riding, while the other walked alongside. Umar’s intent was to show simplicity and emphasize that Allah alone deserves all the glory.
The Holy city for three Abrahamic religions
We arrived in Jerusalem at about 3 a.m. We were among a group of 50 pilgrims comprising Americans and Canadians for whom it was like a dream come true, a lifelong wish fulfilled! Spiritually, it was an almost incredible stroke of good fortune that it happened to be the 27th night of Rajab – the night our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh – peace be upon him) had been taken on his miraculous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and then to the heavens, nearly 1500 years ago.
In the worldly sense, another historic event was the fact that our visit to Jerusalem coincided with Pope Francis’s first ever visit to this holy city. In fact, it was the first visit by any Pope after 1964.
My wife and I were flying back from a brief family trip to Chicago where we celebrated the end of Ramadan feast with our son. The flight was cruising steadily at 25000 feet; the calm skies and the layers of clouds below created a serene environment.
Three scenes of happiness kindled a light of hope in my mind last weekend. In a land normally filled with fear, strife and violence, there were scenes of joy, jubilation and harmony, if only for a little while. Indeed, Pakistanis are truly resilient. They celebrated the end of Ramadan feast – Eid El Fitr – with high spirits and enthusiasm despite an overall environment of uncertainty and chaos.
So, what is fasting all about? Indeed, fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and a very special form of worship. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk every day for one lunar month; this could be 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon. During their fast, the faithful abstain from food, drink and sexual intimacy. They forgo these legitimate desires and actions in obedience of their Lord. They also practice more vigilance than usual in abstaining from sins.
I have often been asked: ‘So you can’t even drink water or any other liquids?’ When my answer is in the negative, the questioner is usually stunned. Frankly, one cannot remain without food or drink for long durations under normal circumstances but once the concept of religion and spirituality sets in, it becomes not only feasible but also enjoyable and inspirational.