Quakers in Britain have sent a message of goodwill to Muslims in their communities to mark the end of Ramadan and the start of ‘Id ul-Fitr (Eid), sending their greetings of peace and prayers. The message is part of a statement by a broad range of Christian leaders, which says “we recognise this as a day of good news and celebration – the fast has been completed and the feast begins.”
The church leaders state that they have been encouraged by the broadcaster Channel 4’s Ramadan season and by the ‘Big Iftar’ initiative, which has seen Muslims invite non-Muslims to visit them in their mosques. They say that these actions have helped many people to experience Muslim hospitality around the UK and has raised positive awareness of the meaning of Ramadan.
The statement also says that the leaders “stand with you against any discrimination or violence targeting any community or person because of their faith.” They also say that they wish their work to demonstrate “the love for God and neighbour to which we are called.”
As well as Quakers in Britain, another 12 churches have signed up to the statement including the Methodist, Church of England, Baptists and others. The Christian Muslim Forum, which organised the initiative, says that more churches might have signed up but for people being away on holidays.
A publication from Quakers in Britain, ‘Quakers and Encounters with Other Faiths’, recognises that the need for inter-faith dialogue has increase in recent years, an unwelcome spotlight being placed on faith communities, especially Muslims. The result, it says, has made Muslims “feel isolated, threatened and fearful. Quakers, who themselves were once persecuted and considered a threat to the state, may be able to play a valuable role in supporting such faith communities and in witnessing their right to maintain their faith as part of our multi-cultural society.”
Quakers in Britain manage their relationship with other churches and across faiths through the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR). The committee is made up of Quakers from meetings across Britain and keeps Quakers in Britain “informed of the various movements towards inter-church co-operation and opportunities for interfaith dialogue, and for responding on behalf of the Yearly Meeting so that Friends’ views on issues of faith and order are represented to other churches and communities of faith.”
Although Quakers have their origins in Christian faith, according to Quaker Simon Best writing in the Friends Quarterly, there are Muslim Quakers in Britain, just as there are Buddhist, Jewish and atheist Quakers.