A month ago, my wife and I were in Houston. We met with new friends Bassel and Salmaa, the two behind #Muslims4Lent, a solidarity movement of Muslims in which individual Muslims chose to fast from something during Lent this year. Bassel befriended my wife while she was doing something equally opposite this year for Lent, namely wearing hijab (#40daysofhijab) in order to get a feel for what Muslim women experience in America and to encourage all people to love their neighbors, strangers, and enemies.
One of the purposes of our meeting was to talk with them about how we could organize a similar social-media driven response to #Muslims4Lent. We acknowledged that there wouldn’t be much participation from Christians if we invited them to fast from all food and drink during daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan this year. What we decided was to invite people, no matter their religion, to participate in a one-day Ramadan experience.
This year, on 7.7.15, we are inviting people to give up food and drink for one day (sunrise to sunset), like Muslims will be doing for the entire month of Ramadan. This is fully a solidarity fast.
But it’s also more than that.
Those who participate in SE7EN FAST will be challenged to give the money that they would have spent that day on food to the World Food Programme, with the donations going toward providing food to refugees from the over four-year crisis in Syria. There are more than 6,500,000 displaced Syrians due to the ongoing conflicts, as well as an estimated 3,000,000 refugees living in camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.
3 million people. To put that into perspective, almost 1% of the entire U.S. population are refugees living in foreign countries, and 2% of the U.S. population are considered ‘displaced’. For Syria, the numbers are much more profound. 13% of the current Syrian population are now refugees, and more than 25% are displaced.
We can do something about it.
But SE7EN FAST is more than a fundraising campaign or a solidarity movement.
The best possible outcome for SE7EN FAST will be for Muslims and non-Muslims to share a meal together. We are inviting Muslim communities throughout the United States to host Iftar meals on 7.7.15, the shared meal that Muslims partake in during Ramadan after sunset. Participants in SE7EN FAST will then be invited to break fast with their Muslim neighbors. The fact is that Muslims are one of the most marginalized people groups in America. This marginalization has many reasons: fear, isolation, ignorance, hate, etc. The more people who participate fully in SE7EN FAST, the more opportunity there is for life-changing and life-giving relationships to occur in our own communities.
Fear stems from a lack of knowledge and leads to hatred. The only way to overcome fear is love, and the only way for love to manifest itself between Muslims and non-Muslims is knowledge of the other. When we put humanity on the other, they no longer remain anonymous, but they take on human shape and dignity. They are no longer other, but us. One way to accomplish this is to break bread together.
Fear is a two-way street. The goal of SE7EN FAST is to encourage all people to walk the straight path of peace with one another in the world and in our own communities.
Will you join the movement?
Share. (like this)
RSVP. (these two functions will be available upon the launch of our website, coming soon)
Se7en easy steps. Take the first one today, and help us make this more than an isolated event.
For more information, go to our Facebook Page.