In an unprecedented show of solidarity and to demonstrate Islam’ spirit of compassion towards other faiths, Muslims in the UK, Europe, Canada and the United States have mobilized online, offering to join Christians as they get ready for Lent.
For Christians, lent is a period of self-restraint, marked by fasting, repentance, prayer and self-control. Luxury or rich foods, such as meat and dairy are often avoided by those taking part.Abstention from personal “bad habits” such as watching television or eating too much sugar is also commonly practiced.
Using #Muslims4Lent, Muslims have been tweeting photos of themselves in which they declare what they will be giving up.
It is Muslim American entrepreneur, Riche, 28, who launched the campaign after non-Muslim students joined in with the Muslim Students Association’s Ramadan Fast-a-Thon at his former college, The University of Houston.
“The goal is to thank the many Christians that have always shown love and respect towards Islam by showing them we in turn have the utmost respect for their beliefs,” Riche said.
He added, “Despite what our extremists have done to hijack our religion, we believe in peace, love, tolerance & harmony with other faiths. We don’t want to be seen as some distant, mysterious faith – we want to be accessible for people to open up to us, that is the only way we can counter the misinformation.”
Religious leaders in the UK have welcomed the move as a positive show of solidarity, in keeping with the true spirit of Islam.
“This is Islam at its best,” said social worker Ali Abbas from East London. “Islam has nothing to do with those barbarians who cloak themselves in the black flag. As our prophet (PBUH) taught us, we can only erase a bad deed with a better one.”