We spoke to Khet Khet, our local partner in Myanmar. She told us about the power of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr in helping to bring communities together to heal after conflict.
“Ramadan is an important time for building a virtuous society. In these days of austerity, we also need to be giving. It is a time to avoid evil as much as possible, and instead show love and peace.
“All religions have a time of fasting. The Sabbath is significant in Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism. Ramadan is important for Islam, and Lent for Christians. Many of these religious groups are revered in Myanmar. Therefore, all people and their traditions should be respected. As peacebuilders, we must create a social environment that values diversity at all times.
“Observing and respecting Ramadan is important in Myanmar because true “democracy” is about respecting the norms of diversity. During this time, we should show appreciation to the different communities around us. With dialogue and understanding, we can reduce violence, unrest and harassment and seek solutions instead.
“Before the conflict and unrest in 2012, we celebrated Ramadan together across the different areas and regions of Myanmar. After the conflict, many of the families who had previously celebrated had lost their relatives in the violence. Others had fled or been imprisoned. They no longer felt they could celebrate as they once did.
“In recent years, some people have celebrated Ramadan quietly, in order to show respect to grieving families. I hope that this year, families have been able to extend peace and sympathy everywhere during Ramadan through love, mutual respect and compassion. I have been praying for more mutual respect in society. This Eid, put a happy smile on your face and help each other.”
We join Muslims around the world in celebrating the end of this period of fasting and prayer. We admire the strength and devotion required during this time. By supporting local peacebuilders’ efforts around the world, we will continue to champion religious tolerance and understanding.