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Mike Ghouse

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A Muslim's Easter

Posted: 04/12/2012 4:34 pm

Easter is a celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection on the third day after crucifixion. It is Christianity's most important holiday. A few years ago, I was in Jerusalem and was blessed to sit by the place where he was supposedly buried at the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

One thing the Muslims do at burial sites is to bless the soul of the deceased and wish peace to them. I did my share and expressed my gratitude to God and Jesus for bringing the blessed message of love and forgiveness to humanity.

As a Ppuralist, I just want to make a point here: Jesus and his message belongs to the whole humanity, just as the message of all the spiritual masters including Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna and every one you can imagine, who was a blessing to humanity. If we could purge the insecurity from our hearts, we would appreciate the contribution of each one of the great men and women, who committed to make the world a better place.

For our own salvation and freedom, we need to remove the false perceptions about others. The choice is ours to believe in propaganda and hold on to anxieties; or find the truth and be free.

Many a Christians don white clothing symbolizing purification. It was what Jesus donned once and to this day the tradition is followed at Yardenit, where Jesus was baptized.

Indeed, I was dunked at the same baptismal spot in the river Jordan, a symbolic gesture of transformation and following Jesus. Thank God, the Baptist minister agreed to customize the recitation for me, "in the name of God, and honoring Jesus, I baptize you today at this holy site." Indeed, two Imams were comfortable to follow the suit. I don't know the history, but perhaps I may be the first Muslim to be baptized. It was an enriching experience to me in particular, feeling the symbolic transformation.

On the first day of Lent, as a token of solidarity, I joined my Christian friends and gave up drinking soda to honor their practice. I announced it on Sean Hannity show (he is a Catholic) of my intention to observe Lent, although I had forgotten and had soda twice, I have made the effort to follow it as diligently as I can.

Jesus is my mentor, a true pluralist who had no barriers between him and humanity. As a Muslim I reiterate the affirmation of that thought -- of being boundless.

Some of you may not be aware that Jesus is revered by Muslims, belief in him as a prophet is a requisition. There is a full Chapter on Mary in the Quran and Prophet Muhammad said there are three women who need to be looked up to as role model: Mary, Asia (the one who raised Moses) and Fatima (the prophet's daughter). None of the women were traditional, they stood up against odds and changed the course of history. The hijab many Muslim women wear has origins in Mother Mary's hijab.

Years ago, my daughter observed Lent, and we were glad she did. She got out of an addiction to Dr. Pepper. What a good thing it was! People give up smoking and this period of 40 days is renewal in every sense. Whether you are Christian or not, you can join in the process of reflection and purifying and being in tune with fellow beings.

Lent reminds me of 30 days of Muslim Ramadan; seven days of Paryushan of Jains; eight days of Jewish Passover; and nine days of Hindu Navaratri. The essence of all these events is renewal of the soul and reflection on life. I am happy that these actions are designed to make better humans out of us.

Every faith is composed of a set of unique rituals to bring discipline and peace to human life. Fasting is one of the key elements of observing Lent.

The spirit and intent of Lent lies in a human transformation in a 40 days long inner spiritual journey of finding oneself in tune with spirituality.

Mike Ghouse is a leading thinker, writer and a speaker on pluralism/interfaith and America.

 

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