Reflecting back Ramadan’s serenity

Violent clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadan may mark Islam’s yearly holiday. Yet around the world, many non-Muslims are honoring the holy celebration.

A women stops to take a photo of the first Ramadan lights installation at Piccadilly Circus on the eve of Ramadan, in London, Britain, March 21.

To the world’s nearly 2 billion Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan – celebrated this year from March 22 to April 22 – is a time for spiritual reflection, daily fasts, and acts of kindness. That’s hardly the impression given to the world by news every year of violent clashes during Ramadan between Israeli police and Muslim Palestinians worshiping at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Two years ago, the clashes led to an 11-day conflict with hundreds killed. This year, the violence has been less, yet it still taints the holiday’s reputation.

That may be changing – although not because Israelis and Palestinians are resolving their differences. Rather, non-Muslims in many parts of the world are honoring the celebration of Ramadan in different ways, reflecting back the spirit of inclusivity and generosity that Ramadan means to Muslims.

The clearest sign of this shift is commercial. Target, for example, now offers decoration kits for Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that follows Ramadan. In 2021, Mattel’s American Girl brand began to sell celebration outfits for Eid al-Fitr. The Asda supermarket sells special foods for Ramadan’s get-togethers.

In the United States, more schools are making accommodations for Muslim students to maintain their studies while practicing their faith during Ramadan. Soccer leagues in England have new rules to allow Muslim players to take time at sunset to break their daytime fast. Similar breaks are being offered in the U.S. leagues. “Thank you for having this respect for our religion,” tweeted Steven Moreira, a French player for the Columbus Crew team in Ohio.

For the first time, Coventry Street near London’s Piccadilly Square was lit up with holiday lights last month to celebrate Ramadan. Hundreds of people came to the lighting event. The area has been known for its Christmas displays every December.

“It’s really beautiful to see our non-Muslim neighbors taking an interest in the light,” Aisha Desai, founder of the event, told CBC. “There’s just so many things happening now coming from the younger generation. And it’s really causing, creating, this shift. ... It’s a beautiful moment.”

The trend seems to be global. “This year’s Ramadan is notable for the number of traditionally non-Muslim communities, institutions and companies going above and beyond to understand the cultural nuance of the event and support their friends, colleagues, customers and citizens during the period of observance,” states a new report from marketing giant Wunderman Thompson.

Within Israel, Muslims celebrating Ramadan often receive the support of people of other faiths. In the city of Acre, one Christian man, Michel Ayoub, is famous for walking the streets after 2 a.m. during Ramadan to remind his Muslim neighbors to prepare a meal before their daytime fasting.

“We are of the same people and ultimately pray to the same God,” he told Haaretz. “They should see that there’s no need to butcher one another. It’s possible to live together.”

With good judgment and composure, the people of Israel can show respect for each other, wrote Haaretz journalist Nir Hasson. “Ramadan can be what it is intended to be according to Muslim tradition, a month of kindness and serenity.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Reflecting back Ramadan’s serenity
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today