World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit sent greetings to Muslim friends and colleagues as they celebrated the festival of Eid al-Fitr.
“Many Christians find that it is an enriching experience, and indeed a positive challenge to their faith, to observe something of how Muslims practise their faith through the month of Ramadan,” wrote Tveit. "For example, your commitment to fasting, to mutual forgiveness, and to remembering the needs of the poor and hungry, is a welcome reminder to Christians that these practices are also important to us in our own faith.”
In the observance of Ramadan, there is a combination of fast and feast, of self-denial and of generous hospitality, reflected Tveit. "This speaks eloquently to the wider world both of the abundant generosity of God and also of our need for self-discipline if we are to use God’s gifts wisely and well," he wrote. "And as we greet you warmly at this festive time and give thanks for all the good things that God gives us in our relationships with you, we are also aware of the many difficult challenges in the world that we are surely called to face together on the basis of our shared commitment to justice and peace for all people.”
In recent months, Tveit observed, there has been a disturbingly repetitive pattern of murderous attacks on people worshipping in their holy places. “Time and again we at WCC have raised our voices to condemn these brutal acts and to express our solidarity with traumatized and grieving communities, thinking especially of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, the Muslim community in Christchurch, and the Christian communities of Sri Lanka,” Tveit wrote. "But there is a danger that our words of condemnation and solidarity, however sincerely intended, will start to sound routine and hollow unless we are serious about asking ourselves what we can do in response to such horrific events.”
The WCC is keen to explore with Muslim colleagues and partner organisations what we can do together for the sake of justice and peace, Tveit wrote. “Although every community will naturally feel a particular responsibility to protect and support the most vulnerable and needy among its own members – and this is certainly an important aspect of our work at WCC – let us at the same time all strive to keep our hearts open to the suffering of other communities,” he wrote. “The good news is that we already see encouraging signs of Muslims and Christians going out beyond the boundaries of their communities and together serving the good of all their neighbours.”