Christmas Holidays by Marco Secchi

NOALE, ITALY - DECEMBER 18:  Participants dressed as Father Christmas take part in the Noale Sant Run on December 18, 2011 in Noale, Italy. Close to two thousand people participated in the third annual Noale Santa Run, one of the largest non competitive Santa Run in Italy. (Marco Secchi)NOALE, ITALY - DECEMBER 18: Participants dressed as Father Christmas take part in the Noale Sant Run on December 18, 2011 in Noale, Italy. Close to two thousand people participated in the third annual Noale Santa Run, one of the largest non competitive Santa Run in Italy.

Can a Muslim say happy Christmas to his friends? As a Muslim I get asked this question all the time during this period . Often I get even told off by some good doer Mullah acting for the Islamic Police!  As I have done for so many years now, once again, I extend these wishes from around the globe, to you all Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends

Afrikaans Geseënde Kersfees en 'n gelukkige nuwe jaar Albanian Gëzuar Krishtlindjet e Vitin e Ri Arabic ???? ??????? ??????? ???????? ???? ????? ??????? Azeri Tezze iliniz yahsi olsun Basque Zorionak eta urte berri on Breton Nedeleg laouen ha bloavezh mat Bulgarian ??????? ??????! ???????? ???? ?????? Byelorussian ? ????? ????? i ???????i Catalan Bon Nadal i feliç any nou Chinese (Cantonese) ???????? Chinese (Mandarin) ???????? [????????] Comanche Tsaa Nu?u?sukatu?? Waa Himaru? Cornish Nadelik lowen ha blydhen nowydh da Croatian Sretan Božic i uspješna Nova godina Czech Veselé vánoce a š?astný nový rok Danish Glædelig jul og godt nytår Dutch Prettige Kerstdagen en een gelukkig nieuw jaar Esperanto Bonan Kristnaskon kaj feli?an novan jaron Estonian Häid Jõule ja õnnelikku uut aastat Faroese Gledhilig Jol og eydnurikt nyggjar Finnish Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta Flemish Zalig kerstfeest en gelukkig Nieuwjaar Frisian Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier French Joyeux Noël et bonne année Gaelic (Irish) Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit Gaelic (Manx) Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa Gaelic (Scottish) Nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr Galician Bo Nadal e próspero aninovo German Frohe Weihnachten und ein frohes neues Jahr Greek ???? ???????????? ??? ??????????? ?? ??? ???? Greenlandic Juullimi ukiortaasamilu pilluaritsi Hausa Barka da Kirsimatikuma barka da sabuwar shekara Hebrew ?? ???? ??? ???? ???? Hungarian Kellemes karácsonyt és boldog új évet Icelandic Gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár Ilocano - Naimbag a Pascua ken Naragsac nga Baro nga Tawen! Indonesian Selamat hari Natal Italian Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo Japanese ?????????????????? Jèrriais Bouan Noué et Bouanne Année Judeo-Spanish / Ladino Noel alegre i felis anyo muevo Kazakh ??????????? ????? ???? ???? ??????? ????? ?????? Kirghiz ??????????? ???????? ???? ??????? ????? ?????? Korean ?? ????? ?? ? ?? ???? Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kirîsmes u ser sala we pîroz be Kurdish (Sorani) Kirîsmes u salî nwêtan lê pîroz bê Latin Natale hilare et annum faustum Latvian priec?gus Ziemassv?tkus un laim?gu Jauno gadu Low Saxon - Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar Maltese Il-Milied u s-sena t-tabja Maori Meri Kirihimete Ka puta a Matariki, ka rere a Whanui, ko te tohu o te tau Monogasque - Festusu Natale e Bona ana noeva Manx Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa Norwegian God jul og godt nyttår (Bokmål) God jol og godt nyttår (Nynorsk) Oriya Sukhamaya christmass ebang khusibhara naba barsa Persian/Farsi ????? ???????? ?? ????? Polish Weso?ych ?wi?t i szcz??liwego Nowego Roku Portuguese Feliz Natal e próspero ano novo Quenya Alassëa Hristomerendë! Alassëa Vinyarië! Romanian Cr?ciun fericit ?i un an nou fericit Russian ? ?????????? ????????? ? ? ??????????? ????? ????? Serbian (Orthodox) ??????? ?? ???? ? ?????? ???? ?????? Serbian (Non-Orthodox) ?????? ????? ? ?????? ???? ?????? Sicilian Bon Natali e filici annu novu Sindarin Mereth Veren e-Doled Eruion! Garo Idhrinn Eden Veren! Slavomacedonian ?????? ????? ? ???? ?????? Slovak Veselé vianoce a š?astný nový rok Slovenian Vesel Boži? in sre?no novo leto Somali Ciid wanaagsan iyo sanad cusub oo fiican Spanish ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo! Swedish God jul och gott nytt år Tagalog Maligayang Pasko at manigong bagong taon Thai ??????????????? ??????????????? Turkish Yeni y?l?n?z? kutlar, sa?l?k ve ba?ar?lar dileriz Ukranian B??????? ?????? ? ? ????? ????? Urdu ???? ??? ????? ?? Uzbek Yangi Yil Bilan Vietnamese Chúc Giáng Sinh Vui V? và Chúc N?m M?i T?t Lành Welsh Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda Xhosa Siniqwenelela Ikrisimesi EmnandI Nonyaka Omtsha Ozele Iintsikelelo Zulu Sinifesela Ukhisimusi Omuhle Nonyaka Omusha Onempumelelo

A Sufi Ramadan by Marco Secchi

By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong

Paul of the Wulfruna Sufi Association tells about Ramadan in Sufism. Read about the significance of fasting, the symbolism of the rose and the importance of prayer and meditation.

Ramadan, the month when God revealed the Holy Qur’an, is a time of deep reflection and contemplation for Muslims. Considering past accomplishments and where our life’s journey is leading. Ramadan is a good time for us to make changes for the better, an excellent opportunity to turn over a new leaf, shedding any old bad habits.

Sufi meditationSufi meditation

Walking in the footsteps of the prophets

"O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain concious of God" Holy Qur’an (2:183) Asad

"Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant - the Ten Commandments." Exodus (34:28) NIV

Muslims aim to be walking in the footsteps of prophets and saints. While Ramadan is unique to Islam, most religions have their traditions of fasting. We spend much of our lives concerned with mundane activities, work, meals, television, fashion. Without even realising it, time passes, often wasted on nothing special. Fasting helps us to regain self-discipline and self-restraint.

Tayyaba Mosque

Realising the difficulties of others

An important role of fasting, is to help us realise the difficulties and suffering of others. Caring for those in need is so important, charity is the third pillar of Islam. One important benefit of fasting, is we learn what it is like to feel hungry. Once we realise this, hopefully we will show more compassion for those in need, for those who have no food to break their fasts, or cannot afford to buy it.

The rose blooms amid thorns

Sufis are people striving for an inner, personal experience of the Divine. Seeing the basic practices of Islam as only the first step to this higher goal. To allow one’s soul to grow and ascend, one needs to strive against the bad characteristics of one’s ego. In Sufism, the rose is symbolic of our soul. As like the development of our own souls in this world, the rose blooms amid thorns.

Seeking to lose themselves in the Divine

While all Muslims are on a quest for inner peace, Sufis seek to lose themselves in the Divine. Fasting is an important stepping stone on this inner spiritual journey. Sufi saints perform the greatest form of fast, while others go without food, they exercise the fasting of their mind. Put another way, they do not think of anything except God.

Prayers and meditation

Sufis consider their existence in this world as only the seed, for their existence in the next world. In a similar way to how small acorns grow into mighty oaks, we reap what we sow. In addition to their daily prayers, various forms of meditation are practised by Sufis, enabling them to become more conscious of the Divine.

"unto everyone who is conscious of God, He [always] grants a way out [of unhappiness], and provides for him in a manner beyond all expectation" Holy Qur’an (65:2-3) Asad

Laylat al-Qadr

God has promised great rewards for those who fast. One of these occurs during the last ten days of Ramadan. During the night of Laylat al-Qadr, for one who has fasted perfectly, God sends an angel to personally meet this person, and grant them any wish they desire.

Fasting is an enormous blessing, it is a great way of improving one’s self discipline and physical health, yet at the same time conveys immense spiritual benefits.

Sufi Ramadan traditions by Marco Secchi


 “I cried because I had no shoes, and then I met a man who had no feet.”  This famous line from the Sufi poet Hafiz reflects the essence of Sufism, the mystic path of Islam, in one sentence.

How do Sufi practices differ in Ramadan?

“The question you bring up is interesting because it indicates to my mind that you make a separation between Sufi and Muslim … I don’t make that separation,” . Sufis are Muslims; they practice the five pillars of Islam, which include fasting in Ramadan.

Out of the five pillars, fasting is the only one done purely between an individual and God. It is done in secrecy and privacy. “Fasting is a form of hijab; Allah gave every being on earth protection. The birds he gave wings, the porcupine he gave needles, the skunk he gave a scent … to man he gave zikr Allah, and in Ramadan we remember Him more and more,” he says.

Restraining oneself from eating, drinking, love making, sinning, anger and striving to be good builds patience. Sabr (patience) is mentioned in over 90 places in the Quran. In one verse in Surat El-Baqarah, it clearly states, "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you, as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn patience."

Yet patience is only one aspect of the holy month. “Ramadan gives everyone the opportunity to go into themselves … during this month we are not taken by the world,” .

Sufi iftars are traditionally communal. Many gather together in a zawya with a sheikh present. They first drink water then pray the maghrib prayers followed by a communal meal. Then they pray the tarawih and in between they sing praises to the Prophet Mohammed.

In Ramadan extra prayers are done not out of habit but out of genuine conviction. Sufis feel this so strongly they want to do more. A Sufi makes sure he does all the tarawih prayers although they are not obligatory.

“The Prophet Mohammed prayed the tarawih two nights in a row, and then didn’t show up the third night. He didn’t want people to think it was mandatory,”

In Arabic Ramadan is spelled with five letters and Sufis believe that each stand for something that defines this holy month. R for ridwan, Allah’s satisfaction; M for marhaba, Allah’s love; D for deman, Allah’s protection and security; A for ulfal, Allah’s friendship; N for nour, Allah’s divine light and the essence of creation.

“Ramadan reveals many of the holy secrets of the Quran and for the believers it is a month of forgiveness, Ramadan opens the door of the interior of ourselves and the secrets of Allah are within us.”