Happy World Religions Day!
Whether you identify with a religion fully, partially, or not at all, I encourage you to celebrate your beliefs and your purpose today. I also encourage you to not only acknowledge fellow faiths with kindness and consideration, but to embrace them too! Since the beginning of time, religion has been a significant factor in history, throughout generations, and in what our world looks like today. Religious messages and teachings play a personal role in millions of lives every day too. Whether you celebrate Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah, Hola Mohalla, or Easter, we admire and appreciate your religion. I hope that in this new year, we can continue to coexist and consider one another with a little more love.
Facts about Faiths:
- In order, the largest religious followings are Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
- The date of Easter is determined by the spring equinox and cycles of the moon.
- Eid Al-Fitr, following 30 days of fasting Ramadan, is celebrated over three days.
- In Buddhism, anyone can be considered a "buddha," after they attain enlightenment.
- Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv are the three daily Jewish prayers.
- Baptized Sikhs wear a version of a turban and practice harmony and equality.
- Over one billion people do not associate with any religion.
Religion in Palestine
Religion plays a role in all countries across the globe, but it has been the specific reason for Palestine’s love and care, development, and its desire from other religions too. In Palestine, religion engages in society frequently. On Fridays, Muslim-dominant cities close their businesses and dedicate their day towards worship and being with their loved ones. Examples of cities that do this include Al-Bireh, Beitunia, Ramallah, and Nablus, all found in the West Bank. During the Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, you can still find these cities participating in the same spirit! Christmas time in Ramallah is a sight I’ve always adored to see - glimmering lights, Christmas trees, and festive parades with music, drums, and even Santa! How beautiful is it that Christian and Muslim Palestinians unapologetically celebrate each other’s faith differences?
Today, Palestine contains a large population of over 15 million divided into sects of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. These three religions all feel a connection to the land, especially when it comes to the beautiful city of Jerusalem. All the religions deem the capital city as the most sacred in terms of faith - but here is the breakdown of their deep attachments to the entire land:
Christians admire Bethlehem (Jesus’ birthplace) and make it a priority to visit the Church of Nativity and the Chapel of St. Catherine. Today, the Christian population in present-day Palestine is absolutely heartbreaking.
For Muslims, the Quran writes about Palestine being both the “holy” and “blessed” land home to many of the Prophets, including Ibraheem, Isa, and Suleiman. In Islam, two of the most important landmarks of Palestine are Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem.
For Jews, the pious turns three times each day in prayer toward Jerusalem. It is a way to pledge that they return to the city with a chant of “Next Year in Jerusalem” at the conclusion of the Passover seder.
Admire and Educate
As you can see, the love for Palestine is so deep and so personal. Religion is exactly that - it is an incomparable part of people’s identities and what they deem their purpose in this big world.
In all, I ask you to remind yourself to respect religions other than your own. Research, ask questions and participate in ways you can. Collectively, we know religion can sometimes be a personal and sensitive topic. But the truth is…our differences allow us to live in a developing and fascinating world - with love and care are at the center of it all. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith."
About the Author:
Layan Beirat is a Chicago based blogger whose Paliroots are found in both Kufer Malik and Beit Safafa, Palestine!