Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land
Joint Christian Muslim Ramadan Iftar and a Panel on Fasting in Islam and Christianity
11 August 2011
Leading academic, social, public and religious personalities in the Bethlehem and the Jerusalem area attended the Panel titled “The Basic Principles of Fasting in Islam and Christianity.” The Director of the Islamic Awqaf (Endownments) in the Governorate of Bethlehem, Sheik Muhammad Isma’il ‘Ayesh, and a member of Al-Liqa’ Board of Trustees, Mr. Laurence Sammour took part in this panel which was moderated by a friend of Al-Liqa’, Mr. Younes Jaddu’.
Dr. Geries S. Khoury in the opening of this Ramadan gathering welcomed participants and extended a blessed Ramadan month greeting to all. Dr. Khoury mentioned that Al-Liqa’ started this tradition of the joint Ramadan Iftar in the early 1980’s the aim of which was to strengthen national unity and the sprit of love and respect as well as shared living. Likewise, moderator Mr. Jaddu’ thanked Al-Liqa’ Center for its activities and programs which strengthen shared living. As a prelude to the panel presentations and following few words on the importance of the Pillar of Fasting to the believers, sheik Muhammad Isma’il ‘Ayesh spoke on the purpose of Fasting which includes humility and preparing souls to deal with descent work. Fasting, accordingly, is to refine the soul, the body, the ethics, all of which is a school. The purpose of Fasting is patience and worshipping as well as charity and reciting the Qur’an. In addion to accustom the nation to disciplin in fasting in which rich and poor are taught to self-restraint and self-control.
Mr. Laurence Sammour pointed out that Fasting in the three monothestic religions is a pillar of practice. If we take a close look at the Bible, we can realize the importance of Fasting in the life of believers. He quoted from the life of Saints and the Fathers of Church. Mr. Sammour focused on the acceptable Fasting and the unacceptable Fasting. To be acceptable Fasting a person fasting must perform that duty wholeheartidely. Otherwise, Fasting is seen as a favor done to God.
Fasting in Christianity should be associated with forgiveness and repentance. Mr. Sammour concluded his presentation by pointing out that Fasting is not a Command of God only. Fasting is God given heavenly blessing and spiritual enjoyment.
Following the panel presentation as well as the question and answer which followed, and because of the month of holy Ramadan, The month of Fasting, all attendees were invited to Al-Liqa’s joint Ramadan Iftar.