Imam Yahya Pallavicini, president of COREIS (Islamic Religious Community of Italy), a Muslim Italian organization, recently joined our Russell Berrie Fellows for an online session as part of our series “Meet the Interreligious Dialogue Leaders.” He shared with them some international interfaith projects he is involved with such as the Muslim Jewish Leaders Council of Europe and the UN Plan of Action with Religious Leaders to prevent hatred and violence and discuss best practices in interreligious dialogue.
At the beginning of the sacred month of Ramadan, we reached out to him to find out more about the particular significance of this celebration during the pandemic.
“The spiritual value of the month of Ramadan is already there in the chance that every year is offered again to us,” he says. “Like Pesach for Jews and Christmas for Christians, Ramadan too is a time when believers of a particular community renew their awareness of God’s blessings who, although always present at any moment in the hearts and horizons of each creature, in some specific moments gets even closer.”
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse, as well as dedicating time to prayer reciting the Qur’an during night. “Through abstinence and recitation which accompanies day and night time, the Muslim believer is both inwardly and outwardly regenerated and discovers Allah’s hospitality,” Imam Pallavicini comments.
This year, like the past one, the month of Ramadan is welcomed while we are all still experiencing restrictions and burdens due to the pandemic both at the personal and societal level. “To live this intention and fasting during the pandemic is a challenge within the challenge” – affirms the president of COREIS – “because we are called to live a retreat within a retreat, to be healthy in our body and take care about our mind’s health, to pay attention to one’s neighbor while being careful about infections and at the same time supporting each other emulating our masters and prophets’ piety and looking for God’s Mercy.”
In our increasingly multi-religious societies, it is important to remember that “the mystery of religion is that of using a specific grammar to talk to its own community of believers,” Imam Pallavicini states. “A common mystery among the mysteries of various divine grammars is that of the universality of the Spirit that allows every believer to take part into the Superior and Common Good as well as to reinvigorate collaboration renewing an even more vivid fraternity,” he continues.
Imam Pallavicini concludes with an invitation: “To respect diversity and recognize Unity are key to support the encounter between civilizations. Let each of us pray with the hope of serving this miracle that overcomes this human crisis.”
We wish all our Muslims friends a blessed month of Ramadan!