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Live and let live


September 10, 2010
By Peter Sells

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You may or may not be aware, depending on the community in which you live and your circle of friends and neighbours, that Ramadan ends today. Ramadan is the month during which healthy Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk each day. Ramadan ends with the first sighting of the crescent moon after the ninth new moon of the (Islamic) year. When the crescent moon is sighted, that day becomes the first day of the month of Shawwāl, which is marked by the festival of Eid ul-Fitr and two or three days of feasts and celebrations (depending on the country’s or region’s traditions).

All of this is based on the
Islamic calendar, which differs from the western Gregorian calendar by 11 or 12
days each year. This means that the end of Ramadan, or any other specific
Islamic day, is 11 or 12 days earlier this year than last year.

Across Canada and around the world, Muslims will be practicing their
traditions as they have for well over 1,000 years. This year, one of their most
sacred traditions will have them feasting and celebrating on Sept. 11.

So I – and some U.S. clergy, columnists and bloggers – am calling for
some understanding, tolerance and respect from the fire service community. Do
not misinterpret your neighbours’ traditions or buy into any of the anticipated
reactionary rhetoric. I will be in what has become my usual slightly confused
and distracted mood on Saturday. It is getting better with each passing year
but I think next year, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, will be difficult.

The fire service has a raw
nerve around 9/11. I am asking that we live and let live. Please do not make
comparisons to the religious intolerance exhibited in other countries. Our
responsibility is to live up to the tolerant ideals of our own society. Tolerance
sometimes involves respecting traditions that we don’t understand. If you find
yourself in that position, why not ask a few questions or read a book?

And please do not misinterpret
the intent of your Muslim neighbours or question their motivation. And please
do not suggest that the celebration date could have been moved, as some media
have suggested might be the case. How many of us would move the date of our Christmas
dinners if our reglious celebration upset others?

Here’s another perspective. What
has become known as the Boxing Day tsunami occurred mid-morning on
Dec.
26, 2004
. Precisely, the
earthquake occurred at
00:58:53 UTC which corresponds to just before 8 p.m. Eastern or 5 p.m. Pacific. So while many of us were enjoying our rare Who-roast beast, a
tsunami on the other side of the world was in the process of killing in excess
of 130,000 Muslims in the Indonesian state of Aceh alone. Now that you know
that, will you alter your Yuletide plans? Or will you see the events as
unconnected and continue with your family and community traditions?

Live and let live.


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