Ramadan and Fasting's Global Field of Influence

In Oliver Roy's work, Globalizing Islam: The Search For a New Ummah (London: Hurst and Company 2004), he tried to take up new perspectives Muslims are following generally in the world that fall between Westernization and Neo-fundamentalism. It is emphasized in the title of the book, which is as striking as its contents, that Islam is a global reality or a reality that is becoming accepted globally. Actually Islam and Muslims are making their existence felt throughout the world today. Not only anti-Islamic campaigns or occupation and conflict orchestrated on a Middle Eastern axis are on the agenda, but also Muslims with their Islamic beliefs and worship. Consequently, it is being emphasized by almost everyone that the prophesies at the beginning of the 20thcentury of Christian missionaries and Western Orientalists, which they made looking at the Islamic world at that time, to the effect that Islam was doomed to disappear or that it had nothing more to give to people, have not been fulfilled and that Islam's influence in the world is an increasingly growing reality that should be recognized. While for some this emphasis is made to take precautions against Islam or for policies to be made directed at Muslims, for others it is due to an increasing curiosity and interest in Islam.

It is known that in recent years Islam and Muslims are put on the world agenda, particularly the agenda of Western societies, by means of various manipulations from time to time in an effort to create a negative image. Together with this, it is a reality that in Western societies where secular life style and customs, individualism, hedonism, and similar philosophies erode traditional values and morals more and more every day, Muslims, who form the social "other" in Western societies, and Islamic values are arousing more curiosity and interest from people everyday. So much so that even in countries where with Islamophobia there are publications insulting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), interest and curiosity about the Quran are increasingly on the rise, and it is being said that Islamic publications, especially the meaning of the Quran, are attracting readers at record rates. Undoubtedly, in view of all this, one cannot help but remember Allah's promise in the Quran that His light will be completed and that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent as a mercy to the worlds.

It can be seen that Islamic values and forms of worship have become globalized by means of Muslims who exist in some form almost everywhere in the world and who make their presence felt by the values they represent. Recently it is possible to see this in the atmosphere formed almost everywhere in the world due to Ramadan. We are witnessing that people are trying to understand, in fact, experience Ramadan together with Muslims everywhere in the world, particularly in Western countries. There is an effort being made to try and discover the world of belief and emotions lived by Muslims who are living Ramadan and to understand the positive effect of fasting on people. Coming to the agenda by means of Ramadan, there is discussion on the positive effects of forms of worship such as charity, the Ramadan alms, and the poor tax on the social fabric. In fact, it does not stop here; even if a person is not Muslim, he sits together with Muslims at the iftar meal, and iftar dinners are being prepared for Muslims, especially in societies where Muslims are in the minority, and people are fasting like Muslims... Empathy towards Muslims strikes the eye in this month more than any other time... Well then, how should all this be evaluated? Should we explain this as some do in the form of watering down Islam's basic values, emptying Islam's essence or as an extension of domestication campaigns directed towards Muslims on a global basis? Or as people's encountering more Islamic values the effects of which are felt more and more in the world each day  and, in this respect, the development of an opportunity for Islam to reach other people? It is a fact that there are various intrigues being made against Muslims and that various plans are operative against Islam and Muslims. However, together with this, it is also a fact that Islam and Islamic values are becoming more influential in the world on a daily basis...

Ramadan, fasting, iftar and similar Islamic values not only allow Muslims to help one another, feel empathy among themselves or purify their own souls, but by means of these values an opportunity is created to meet and get to know others and to show Islam's beauty to others. By means of Muslims spread throughout the world people everywhere have the opportunity to know Islam and understand Muslims. In short, Ramadan and fasting, which in Allah's words was made mandatory for peoples before us, gives an unequalled opportunity to Muslims not only to purify their souls, but to express and explain Islam. It is the duty of all Muslims to use this opportunity well... 

Hues of Belief Corner by Sinasi Gunduz, a professor of the history of religions, deals with the attitude of Prophet Muhammad towards other religions and his relationship with their members


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Şinasi Gündüz

Professor Şinasi Gündüz, the head of the Religious History department at the Faculty of Theology, Istanbul University, graduated from the Faculty of Theology, Ankara University in 1984. In 1991 he completed his doctorate at the Middle East Research Department, Manchester University. In 1995 he received his associate professorship from Ondokuz Mayıs University, Faculty of Theology, and he became a professor in 2003 at Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology. Still head of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology, Şinasi Gündüz is a member of the Executive Board of the Faculty of Theology, Istanbul University and is a member of the Senate of Istanbul University; Professor Gündüz has published a large number of international articles. He has written sections for international publications and presented articles in a number of refereed journals and at international academic conferences, making great contributions to the field of religious history. In 2004 Professor Gündüz was seen worthy of the Successful Researcher Award by the Istanbul University Rector's Office and in 2005 by the Istanbul University Academic Research Projects Institute.

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