The observance of Ramadan follows an ancient lunar calendar. For Muslims around the world it is a month (time between two lunations) of abstinence. During the daylight hours, which are quite long when the holy days coincide with the sun’s summer schedule, the faithful are to abstain from activities of pleasure and sustenance, so that they may feel on a physical as well as intellectual level the plight of the less fortunate. It is an act of community. The entire community walks in the “moccasins,” to use a Native American metaphor, of the least well-off among them. This is a humbling exercise as well as an exercise in empathy. It showcases one of the pillars of Islam which in the Sunni tradition is known as Zakat. The end of Ramadan is marked by the three days of feasting and celebration known as Eid. My guest from the SIU Saudi SRO sent me this video so that I might understand the spirit of Eid. For most people their most comforting traditions and celebrations of community and family…the ones that make life defining memories, can be described in terms of scholarly studies and historical accuracies…but are truly alive in how they are experienced by the laity. How we teach our children about our culture and the meaning of our traditions speak volumes to the intent of our souls. I frequently read all I can about a subject on an intellectual level and then seek out children’s books, songs, and other media in order to understand the heart-felt message of the topic. On our special Eid show, this past Sunday, we were most blessed in welcoming Dhay Aldhawyan , a young student of architecture at SIU who is also a wife, a mother of a toddler, and a most elegant, articulate and sophisticated Saudi. Her love of family and culture was matched only by her enthusiasm to share and build bridges of understanding. Thank you again, Dhay, for your kindness.
And due to some technical glitches, we heard a lot more dialogue than music. I try to use music as a bridge to enhance the conversation with my special guests. It also gives my guest a much needed break in action…but we were not allowed that luxury this past Sunday. I found myself pulling from my emergency back up stash which was heavy on the Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) I hope to invite the Saudi SRO back with more emphasis on Saudi and Arabic culture and music, both modern and traditonal. A Is For Allah was in the aforementioned back up stash. As I mentioned previously, sometimes we can see the true messages with the eyes and ears of a child. Yusuf Islam wrote this to teach his daughter the Arabic alphabet script. As a child of Southern Illinois, I know how important the Vacation Bible Schools were in understanding the teachings of Jesus. I was thrilled to have spent some hours before my broadcast at the service of the First Christian Church where they were observing a nation-wide call to read the Q’uran from the pulpit, “If They Can Burn It, We Can Read It.” I was gladdened by this call for tolerance and understanding, and not a bit surprised that the sermon was delivered by Marleen Shepard, a promising seminarian. Marleen has been active in the Interfaith community in Carbondale for about a decade and is a WDBX DJ in her own right. [You can catch Marleen’s wisdom (and humor) Thursday mornings from 9-10 on “Faithfully Subversive.”]
I am also grateful for the opportunities that I have as a contributor to WDBX to echo the call for a wider sense of community. Here in Carbondale and throughout Southern Illinois we have many people of the Muslim faith who contribute to our shared community. If you are interested in this topic and/or would like to become more involved: The 2010 Ralph Anderson Interfaith Dialogues is next presenting on Monday, October 4th at the Carbondale Civic Center. Everyone is welcomed. For further information, you can email me at <whirledpeascafe(at)gmail.com>, and I will get back to with specifics. Also, remember that WDBX is YOUR community radio station for Southern Illinois. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or the station directly if you would like to have your voice heard by the community at-large.