Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "On behalf of myself and of all the of Christians of Iraq, I extend my best wishes to all Muslim men and women for the beginning of this blessed month," said Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch, in an address to his brothers and sisters of Islam at the start of Ramadan. His Beatitude wishes that it will be a time of "doing good and peace" for the country and its inhabitants. He stressed the primary duty to preserve "our national unity" and adopt a "language of dialogue in solving problems." Because, the Patriarch added, "We are one community despite our diversity."
Yesterday, the holy month began in much of the Muslim world with fasting, praying, performing works of charity, and forgiving. At Ramadan, Muslims commemorate the time when Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur'an to Muhammad, by sending the Archangel Gabriel to earth. Every person above puberty who is mentally and physically fit has to fast.
However, the holy month is above all a time for good deeds and avoiding anything that displeases Allah. It is a time to thank him for all his blessings, a time for charity toward those who are less fortunate.
As the month of prayer, Ramadan is also a time for initiatives of peace, which is why the Chaldean Patriarch sent a message of best wishes centred on doing "good" and on reconciliation in a country devastated by ten years of sectarian war and violence.
Here is the message His Beatitude Mar Raphael Louis Sako gave AsiaNews for his Muslim brothers and sisters on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan:
Peace be upon you!
On behalf of myself and of all the Christians of Iraq, I extend my best wishes to all Muslim men and women for the beginning of this blessed month, hoping that it will bring good things and peace to Iraq and all Iraqis.
Dear brothers and sisters! As you know, fasting is a time to express our absolute submission to the will of God and our recognition of His supremacy. It is also a time to express solidarity through good deeds and sharing the Al-Iftar.
Islam wants to achieve stability and ensure a life of dignity and freedom to all men and women without distinction, because God created them equal. So many people see in the month of fasting a particular time to pray, give alms, and ask for forgiveness in order to arrive at genuine reconciliation with oneself and with others.
Our country is going through a critical time and it is hard to imagine what the future will bring unless we boost the goal of true mutual coexistence, and prevent those who want to separate and destroy us, under any pretext, from reaching their goal.
Let us preserve our national unity and adopt a language of dialogue in solving problems, because we are one community despite our diversity.
According to an Arab proverb, "there is bread and salt" among us, which is one way of singing the praises of good relations. We fast during this month, Muslims and Christians, each in his own way, for reconciliation, peace and stability in our country. Let us hope that a desire for reflection, a heart that loves and hands that work will always prevail because only this way, can true joy touch everyone!