Harry Reid listens to the sermon

RAMDHAN and Senate Majority Leader

Aslam Abdullah, Board Member,MCA

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid visited the Jamia Masjid, Las Vegas on Friday, September 4, 2009. He attended the Friday sermon delivered by Dr. Aslam Abdullah. The sermon focused on self discipline change and explained the potential of Muslim Americans in working for change in the country and the world. After the prayers, the senator spoke to the members of the Muslim community. Here are his remarks:

The Holy Month of Ramadan is about focus. Its days give this community an opportunity to focus on what is most important. Its nights give the community an opportunity to focus on who is most important – family, friends and loved ones.

And this holy season is also about challenging and renewing ourselves. As the lunar calendar overlaps differently with the solar calendar each year, the month of Ramadan shifts earlier and earlier.
Last year it began in early September. This year it began in late August. Next year it will be in early August.

That means that each year presents a new challenge. The days are longer in some years, the nights longer in others. I believe this reminds us that while our conditions may change and our circumstances evolve, our focus must remain constant. Our efforts to improve ourselves and the world in which we live must be fixed as firmly as our faith.
What an appropriate lesson for the turbulent times we face today.

Ramadan is a time for strengthening one’s relationship with God as well as with one’s neighbors. As bodily needs become secondary to spiritual ones, it is also a time of developing one’s spiritual self, of purifying one’s body, and of caring for the less fortunate.

For non-Muslims, Ramadan also gives us a chance to learn about an ancient and special culture. It is a time to appreciate the pioneering contributions the Muslim community and its people have made to our country over the centuries, and to honor them for their sacrifices.
Your faith has taught the world discipline and devotion, generosity and justice.

Like so many other gifts the Muslim faith has given our world, the lessons of Ramadan should be considered, valued and practiced by all people, all throughout the year.
I believe we share much more similarities than differences. There is so much more that brings us together than that divides us.
Every single human being shares the same bodily needs. Concentrating each day during Ramadan on resisting those needs reminds us that every person – no matter his or her faith, color, background or beliefs – faces the same basic challenges.

Ramadan teaches us equality – in fasting, no one is rich and no one is poor.
Ramadan teaches us self-discipline and self-reflection – if one cannot control his own physical impulses, surely he cannot control others’.
And Ramadan teaches us forgiveness, understanding and shared humanity – Ramadan is observed in a most personal way in every Muslim’s heart, but it is celebrated together, as a community that stretches across oceans just as broadly as it has stretched across centuries.

President Kennedy once said that “in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s futures, and we are all mortal.”
Just last week, just steps from President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery, we lay to rest his youngest brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was one of the strongest champions of equality in our nation’s history.

And when you go to our nation’s most celebrated cemetery there in Arlington, you see line after line of white headstones, each one honoring the life of an American who died for his or her country.
Carved into many of those stones is a crescent, or a cross, or a star. Together, those stones and their symbols create a stirring, diverse landscape. There is no pattern to their placement, no segregation based on beliefs.

If these heroes can lie side-by-side in death, they can surely live side-by-side in life.
No matter whether the faith is mine or yours, the religious practice is ours or someone else’s, we each also share a deep appreciation for our ability to observe freely. We each benefit from the promise that in America, we can each follow our cherished teachings and fulfill our treasured traditions.

That freedom is the very founding principle of the country we all call home. During this holy season, and throughout the year, we reflect on that blessing as well.
Ramadan Kareem.

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