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Non-Muslims Join the Ramadan Fast
by David J. Rusin • Sep 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm
The dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast is not just for Muslims anymore. Indeed, the curious trend of non-Muslim Westerners participating in the tradition has been on full display in 2009:
Though the notion of non-Muslims participating in Islamic rituals appears odd to many, people can do as they please as long as they do not harm others. That said, one cringes when contemplating how Islamists will be emboldened by seeing non-Muslims engage publicly in Muslim practices. McLaren's actions also recall the complementary phenomenon of Western Christian leaders repackaging their faith with Islamic terminology (e.g., the bishop who wants God to be referred to as "Allah" and the Catholic organization that describes Lent as the "Christian Ramadan"). Furthermore, one cannot help but wonder whether joining in the traditions of non-Muslim religious groups would be touted as equally educational for medical students.
The third case does, however, cross a red line that the first two do not. Muslims are free to invite non-Muslims to fast — or do anything else — to mark the Islamic holy month, but it most definitely is not the place of government officials to offer such highly faith-specific suggestions. Imagine Johnson requesting that Muslims take part in Christian rituals to increase their "understanding." If this would never happen, then neither should the reverse.
In summary, these stories reiterate the Islamist Watch recipe for accommodating Islam in the West: while individuals have significant leeway to conduct their own lives as they wish, Islam must not be granted any preferred status in the public square — not even during Ramadan.