Families around our communities and around the world are celebrating the end of the holiest month in the Muslim calendar this week.
Eid-Al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 1, lasting a full lunar cycle.
The month is marked by reverence to the human spirit, and to the purity of life. For the many area residents who follow the Muslim faith, the days of Ramadan are significant, necessary and treasured. For those in northeastern Alberta who do not follow the same religious path, the month of fasting, heightened worship and devout attention to the well-being of those around them is another wonderful example of the cultural mosaic of the region we call home.
Each religion has the guidelines to love one another, love ourselves and make life better. It sounds easy to do. But we know it's not. There are so many obstacles, twists and turns, tragedies, surprises and interruptions that can divert us from those ultimate goals. For those fortunate enough to see and learn from a culture that emphasizes that need for a time to reset and re-adjust, it's inspiring ... and thought-provoking.
Could we all fast for a month to cleanse our spirits, to open our hearts? Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
It is such a literal reference to the need to turn from the comfortable lifestyles and customs we have grown accustomed to. A 24/7 world of food, drink, entertainment, travel and communication is something we have grown to cherish. But the whole world doesn't share those excesses, and the time of Ramadan is the time to think of those who are less fortunate.
Catholics around the world have just completed their holy month as well, and likewise there are concessions in that religion, made through the 40 days of Lent.
As the world moves along at a quicker and quicker pace, the age-old customs and assurances of religion and self-awareness become more and more critical.
It's not just about a religion — It's about the faith and trust behind the cherished words of scripture, or the love of family and the need to pass goodwill onto others.
Fasting or giving up special items doesn't make us better, it makes us realize that we are equal.
We can differ in opinions, in race, in religion ... but at the core, we cannot lose sight that we are equal. These special days of sacrifice and sanctity, whether we practice them or not, should help us all to keep that in mind every day.