Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Ramadan - a festival of charity

Theologin Dalkilic erzählt über die Bedeutung des Fastens.
Das House of One in Miniatur immer vor dem Auge: Die Regierende Bürgermeisterin Franziska Giffey
Fast 100 Gäste haben im Roten Rathaus das Fastenbrechen zu Ramadan gefeiert.

Ramadan, the month of fasting is a special time for Muslims. "This time means more than just abstinence of food and water", states Kadir Sanci, Imam and head of the board of trustees of the House of One on tuesday evening in the Rotes Rathaus, where the house of multiple religions hosts almost a hundred guests representing society, religion and politics. "These days are all about charity and being together. It is expressed not least in the breaking of the fast in company of our jewish, christian, otherwise religious or non-religious friends. Because despite all our differences we are first and foremost human."


Giffey: "Idea of diversity, tolerance and peace"


Franziska Giffey, reigning mayor of berlin and head of the curatorship of the House of One, took up this thought of tolerance: "It is a special get-together here, not only of the different representatives of the religions in our city, but the society, economy as well as the secular society of the city, who are all fascinated by the idea of the House of One, by the idea of diversity, tolerance, freedom and a peaceful togetherness."

Giffey remembers finding a small wooden model of the House of One on her office desk at the Rotes Rathaus right on her first day. It now reminds her every day of the grand vision, that the team of the House of One has been shaping for over ten years now, she explains. "It is impressive that they are filling a house with life, that has not even been constructed yet, that they are bringing people together", the reigning mayor notes. "How incredibly strong will this house be once people can actually meet there." Such a project is possible in a free, peaceful, democratic country such as Germany. "Keeping it that way is our task", Giffey urges. Especially upon facing the offensive war in the Ukraine and the numerous people who are in search for help and protection in Germany this freedom becomes increasingly meaningful.


What role does religion play in our society?


The situation in the Ukraine and the suffering of the people there was a topic that ran through the entire evening. Aydan Özoguz, vice president of the German parliament stated: "While we are looking at the House of One, looking at how it slowly finds its shape and fills up with love, we can also talk about the role of religions and religious communities within our society." In her opinion, this role is not always a positive one. For example in the war going on right now a religion, a patriarch, justifies the offensive war. This goes to show that peace is no matter of course. One has to fight for it. Secular Germany is on a good way. Every ideology, be it religious or non-religious has the right to exist. "Those who are religious should not have to hide that." The art of people living together consists of a good mixture of knowledge of each other and having respect for each other independently from the first point. "What would be a better symbol for this than the House of One."


The limitation of power, "the mechanisms of the fasting of power", as pastor Gregor Hohberg calls it, are indispensable. These mechanisms also benefit the religions, and are still disregarded way too often. "If you take the wisdom that rests in the fasting seriously, you will find: no earth-side power to religions or churches. None!", the chaplain stresses. The House of One is trying to live by that. "The fact that three communities of religions that stand in concurrency so often are sharing a house means limiting oneselves influence and power. It means, we believe in peace and understanding more than we do in power."


Create space for peace


This abstinence of power is vividly described by Rabbi Andreas Nachama with a Jewish tradition. At the end of the Kaddisch, an important prayer in Judaism, the last verse is always about peace. Everyone who prays these lines is supposed to take three steps back. "One steps back to create space for peace, to leave ones position, to create space for others.", Nachama explains the thought that lays the grounds for this tradition. It is even more important in a time that carries the threat of a world war and in which everything has to be done to keep the peace. "Peace through stepping back, that is the advancement we are working on."


"Some call it charity, some solidarity"


The big connection of this evening as well as the entire work of the House of One has continuously been expressed in all contributions. In fasting it appears symbolically: Not only Muslims fast, in the time reaching up to easter so do Christians as well as the Jews in the time of Jom Kippur. Gerry Woop, state secretary of religion and Europe puts emphasis on the people who do not belong to a religious community but still fast contiously, for example for healing purposes. "The self-chosen fasting is as well an expression of humility and devotion.", claims the politician who is accompanying the House of One over the course of many years now. These are also used to help people in need, like the ones who in large numbers are currently fleeing to berlin. "Some call it charity, some solidarity", Woop takes up all that connects religious and non-religious people. "Or in the words of Imam Sanci: We are brothers in humanity."


Among the guests were Düzen Tekkal, human rights defendant and founder of the humanitary organization Hawar Help, Hamideh Mohagheghi, co-founder of the House of Religions in Hannover, Gideon Joffe, head of the Jewish Community in Berlin, Hetty Berg, director of te Jewish Museum Berlin and old bishop Markus Dröge.