The common theological heritage and the mutual reverence of Jesus and his mother by both Muslims and Christians has sadly, become sullied throughout history as Islam and Christianity are often portrayed as implacable enemies, embroiled in conflict. The reality is, despite the troubled history. there have been epochs where Christians and Muslim have co-existed in peace.
When I first saw the distressing news reports on television networks that a man thought to be a British soldier had been brutally murdered on the streets of London by two men in what was suspected to be an act of terrorism I immediately had a strong feeling that the killers would claim to be Muslims.
When I was a first year undergraduate student, my psychology lecturer told me that Muslim women were complicit in their own repression and did not know what it was like to be liberated. As a student of humanities and social sciences I gauged that his views were conspicuously grounded in the litany of anecdotal sources cited by the media.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is based on the lunar system. Muslims fast for 29/30 days by abstaining from food, drink, nourishment and sexual relations from dawn to sunset. Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam and it is an obligation upon all Muslims, who have reached puberty. However, certain people such as the ill or frail; pregnant and menstruating women; breast feeding mothers, children and travellers are exempt from fasting. They are allowed to defer their fasts until a later date, or if they are unable to fast they are required to give a determined sum to charity. Muslims begin their fast at dawn with a meal known as Suhoor and break their fast at sunset with a meal known as Iftar.
Spirituality means different things to different people. Although spirituality is often associated with religious life, many believe it can be developed outside of religion where it focuses on: humanistic ideas, qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others, without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being.
Let's not fool ourselves, we only have to open the news these days to see horrific articles about women being raped, date raped, molested and faced with a deluge of sexual abuses for their appearances (I mean we have to be a certain shape, size or else we lose our appeal to the opposite sex!). So on that note I find my hijab a very liberating experience.
Over the last few decades, the steady immigration of Muslims from around the world to America and across Europe, has thrown the spotlight on the hijab. Many Americans and Europeans are surprised to find that contrary to what they believe, a large number of Muslim women do not wear the hijab out of compulsion but out of choice.