By Kyai Paul Salahuddin Armstrong 

    Ramadan, Pesach (Passover), and Easter are significant religious events in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. In Islam, festivals are calculated according to the Hijri lunar calendar. The lunar year is around 10 or 11 days shorter than a solar year, the measure of a year used in the Gregorian calendar, the standard in most places in the world today, resulting in Islam’s dates being 10 or 11 days earlier in the Gregorian calendar with each passing year. 

    Over the past few years, this has resulted in a convergence of the festivals of Pesach, Lent and Easter, and Ramadan of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So it seemed fitting to explore the shared spirituality of these festivals and how they inspire hope, understanding, and respect, fostering a strong sense of community among people of faith. 

    “Believers, God commanded fasting for you just as he commanded it for those who came before you so that you might be mindful of God.” 

    ~ Holy Quran 2:183 (Safi Kaskas) 

    Fasting is a common practice during Ramadan in Islam (Quran 2:183), before Pesach and at other times in Judaism (Exodus 12:15-20), and during Lent before Easter in Christianity (Matthew 6:16-18). While Muslims and Jews fast by not eating or drinking during their days of fasting, in Christianity fasting usually involves abstaining from certain foods such as meat and treats during Lent. Although they differ, all forms of fasting encourage self-discipline, reflection, and empathy for the less fortunate, along with a focus on prayer and spiritual devotions. 

    “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.” 

    ~ Holy Bible, Matthew 6:16 (NRSV) 

    Ramadan (Quran 2:185), Pesach (Exodus 12:14), and Easter (John 11:25) symbolize liberation and redemption. The spiritual teachings in the scriptures associated with these festivals remind people of all three faiths that God is always ready to offer guidance, deliverance, and redemption to those who seek it.  

    “This day shall be to you one of remembrance: you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord throughout the ages; you shall celebrate it as an institution for all time.” 

    ~ Holy Torah, Shemot (Exodus) 12:14 (JPS 1985) 

    These religious festivals invite believers to engage in reflection and spiritual renewal. Ramadan, Pesach, and Easter nurture a sense of community and unity among people of faith. At the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, staff and students can come together for communal prayers, meals, and celebrations, regardless of their faith background. This is especially the case during the Community Iftar annually attended not only by Muslims, but by people of all faiths from the university and wider community. These gatherings help forge strong bonds of friendship, unity, and collective responsibility, highlighting the importance of community in each faith tradition. 

    At this special time of year, the message of hope, renewal, and unity is amplified as people from different religious backgrounds share their experiences and support each other in their spiritual practices. The spirit, teachings, and practices associated with Ramadan, Pesach, and Easter highlight common ground between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, reminding people of each of these faiths of their shared Abrahamic roots. 

    The University of Birmingham’s Multi-Faith Chaplaincy provides a space where students and staff of all faiths can come together, cultivating understanding, respect, and a strong sense of community. As we celebrate these festivals together, let us be inspired by the message of hope and unity that is renewed at this auspicious time. 

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