Muslims to take up Lent for Lent

27 February 2015

SHABNAM AMINI

YOUNG British Muslims are joining in an international campaign on the internet to show solidarity with Christians by giving up something for Lent.

Members of the Muslims4Lent group are using Facebook and Twitter to upload photos of themselves holding placards that state what they are giving up.

On a Facebook page, the movement's activists wrote: "We believe in the power of interfaith dialogue and solidarity. Instead of dwelling on the negative dialogue against Islam, we are choosing to focus on the many people of other faiths that have extended their hands towards the Muslim community to build a friendship and understanding."

One person involved is Sarah Ager, who is British, and teaches English in Italy. She converted to Islam as an adult, and is active in interfaith relations. She told BBC Radio 5 Live last weekend: "I am not going to have sugar in my tea or snack, but that's just one aspect of it.

"There are so many negative stories in the news about tension between faith communities. . . Muslims4Lent is one way about changing that narrative, and showing that people of diverse faiths can work together towards shared goals, and support each other.

"The emphasis is sharing in things that unite us rather than focusing on things that divide, and there is a real hunger for this kind of dialogue, where people want to come together, especially with things that are going on in the world at the moment."

The campaign was started by an American Muslim, Bassel Riche, who is also the creator of the website EidPrayLove.com, which seeks to showcase "the true teachings of Islam: peace, unity, and coexistence". 

"I am absolutely overwhelmed by all of this," he said on Friday. When I'm reading some of the tweets and seeing people posting their pictures I have to remind myself that I'm involved. The warm embrace by Muslims and Christians alike shows that people are thirsty for respect and understanding, that the majority of people do not want to allow extremists of any faith to drive a wedge between us."

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