08/03/2011, 00.00
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Nepalese Muslims pray for tolerance during Ramadan

by Kalpit Parajuli
Islamic leaders preach respect for other religious communities. The country still debates choice of a secular state or a return to a Hindu monarchy.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer for Muslims began on 2 August, called Roza in Nepal. In the country this month, the 9 th of the Muslim calendar, is also a time of prayer for minorities and for religious tolerance.

Nazrul Hussein, President of the Islamic Federation of Nepal and the Secretary General of the Interreligious Council of the country, told AsiaNews that "the Muslims of the country have decided to offer prayers for minorities and for religious tolerance during our holy month." "Nepal is changing to secularism and the religious transition is very important, even over the protests of those who demand the restoration of the Hindu monarchy, which we find unacceptable." "Minority groups are expected to generate unity and religious tolerance, it is necessary to unify [the country]. So we decided to pray for minority rights and religious tolerance. "

Ibrahim Khan, another prominent Islamic personality notes that "about 5 years ago, Nepal was defined as a secular country, but in practice the change was negligible," while there have been ongoing incidents of religious intolerance. For this he reaffirms the need to pray "for the unity of religious minorities and to ensure secular rights for all."

Sanaullah Nadvi, Imam of the Kathmandu Mosque, hopes that "our month of prayer bring changes in the politicians way of thinking and that the affirmation of secularism prevails not only in words but in practice".

Damodar Sharma, a Hindu leader, says it is favourable to "pray for religious tolerance," but denies that the Hindus of the country violate the religious rights of others. He insists that "the majority of the Nepalese population is Hindu, it is not wrong for the country to return to being a Hindu state". "Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians are all equal and they were already under the Hindu monarchy."

However many sources point out that Hinduism in the country was not a tolerant religion, especially when up to 1990 it was the state religion (see the AsiaNews 2/8/2011, Nepali Christians grow, united against the threat of Hindu fundamentalism) .

During Ramadan, the Muslim faithful can not eat or drink during the day, but only at night. Ramadan recalls the revelation of Allah to Muhammad of being the last prophet of Islam. Fasting, as well as commemorating the event, aims to give more time to the faithful to pray.

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