Ethiopia: This Is Ethiopia –

It is almost two weeks since Ramadan, a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims, has started. From the time when this Islamic Holyday Month has begun, it is common to see followers of the faith every night giving Zaka also known as Zakat on the roadsides, around mosques and in some public spheres for those unfortunate segments of the community.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar that is based on the phases of the moon. As historians and religious leaders stated, the lunar calendar falls short of the solar calendar by 11 days. As a result, Ramadan does not start on the same date each year and instead, over time, passes through all the seasons.

The Ramadan Festival is observed at the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran, the Holy Book for Muslims.

The month is one of the most important and a revered religious festival amongst the followers of Islam. It is the month of fasting, introspection and prayer. Thus, fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam and in each day during Ramadan, followers of the faith fast from dawn to sunset without eating any diet or drinking whatever.

As the Quran states: “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it.”

Thus, Muslims respecting the command, they hold fasting in the month of Ramadan. Not only fasting but, during this Month, devotees are expected to refrain from any form of undesirable and unspiritual practices, including smoking and unkind words, sinful deeds and evil thoughts and actions.

What is more, on such occasions, it is a customary practice for Muslims to share and enjoy meals with family, friends and neighbors, both Muslims and non-Muslims, aside from other days.

Needless to say that Ethiopia is a country where both Muslims and Christians live together peacefully with respect and understanding each other. This deep-rooted culture of the people has been practiced for centuries, both in times of good and bad days. and so are these days, of course.

This includes celebrating religious festivals together irrespective of any differences, no matter whether it is Muslims’ or Christians’ holydays. Especially, giving a helping hand for the unfortunate ones and sharing meals is a customary practice that is carried out by Ethiopians.

Taking this into consideration plus respecting the long-standing culture of Ethiopians’ that is treating strangers in more welcoming and warm manner, last week Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held Iftar dinner with Syrian refugees those who fled from their homeland to Ethiopia seeking safe haven and sheltering in the capital, Addis Ababa. In the dinner program around 300 Syrian refugees participated.

After dinner Prime Minister Abiy twitted, I shared a Ramadan Iftar dinner with our brothers and sisters from Syria who are in Ethiopia as refugees. This event brings back to our collective memory, how our ancestors’ welcomed the venerable companions and relatives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at the dawn of Islam.

Just as we are proud of that history, I call upon our people, especially the young generation to develop the culture of caring for immigrants, the needy and the homeless brothers and sisters in faith and humanity. This event shows our sincere desire to live with Muslim nations and their people for ever in harmony, love and peace today, in the future and in the way we did in our past.

Truly speaking, the kind heartedness that the Premier has shown to these people is one of the reflections of Ethiopians’ deep seated cultural values of receiving, respecting and caring for immigrants.

It is known that, following the havoc and instability that came to happen in their homeland, hundreds and thousands of Syrians are obliged to fled their country and seek for asylums in various parts of the world. Ethiopia is one among the countries that these people are sheltering. However, in no country, except in Ethiopia, the refugees were invited to attend dinner with head of states.