Prime Minister Edi Rama’s message on beginning of the holy month of Ramadan:
Dear brothers and sisters!
During this extraordinary period of time, when all of a sudden the world has started to revolve counter-self, dizzyingly slowing down its speed, and when mankind, as if from heaven, has been ordered to abide by an unimaginable halt of social life, today begins what in the Islamic calendar has been named as the great holy month of Ramadan.
For whoever knows though little about Islam practice and follows the thread of reason that distinguishes this month from others, it is not difficult to value its solacing power on human body in the Hilal lights, “the luminous and thin crescent of the moon,” as the cosmic sign that from the sky illuminates the spiritual calendar of faith in the inner peace and reconciliation between people is poetically called in Islam.
Be at peace with yourself despite difficulties, reconcile with others despite opposition. Just as the world today is reversing with an astonishing slowness, forcing us to overturn the rules of our daily lives under the watchful eye of the invisible enemy, so too does man’s gaze this month turn back to inner self in search of reflection of the light that connects the heaven’s infinite essence with the infinite essence of the human being.
The loneliness of the isolation ostensibly imposed on us due to the offensive of a subversive and hostile force, capable of temporarily subduing earthly powers, making on all nations, be them either great or small, rich and poor, comes and meets today and the next month with the imposition to seek amid the loneliness of the journey to the inner self unification of our unique being with the twin soul temporarily residing within us as human beings.
And in this time when we are all locked inside the close family circle, while outside, along with the noisy metal carriers of all kinds, there have also been shut down spaces of the temples that transcend the faithful on their journey between the soul and the heaven, we Albanians, like few others, have visited three times and were equally comforted by the knocks of the faith calendar.
The Easter holidays, twice, and the Ramadan starting today to comfort the hearts and souls of many in this country, which, as the holy mass says, emanate as soon as they feel the kindness and love the blessed celebrations incite even in the most troubled and heartbroken souls.
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” the Gospel has it.
Blessed is everyone who in the name of God and the care for the others under the Cross sign and the Crescent Moon, Hilal, or faith in the man’s indestructibility, he comes to undo knit brows of the man, and tell everyone that every cloud has a silver lining and that the light will always conquer the darkness, lighten their daily burden with the message of the eternity, which is passed from person to person as a community without time and without territory.
“And the light shined in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” wrote on his Gospel John the Apostle, who was exiled to exiled to Patmos in the Aegean Sea, in a solitude, or a quarantine we the today’s self-quarantined would say, which is a kind of a parable of what is tormenting, also uniting us all today.
I dare not say we are living in a blessed time, I dare not say that our freedom’s self-restriction is a paradise, or that quarantining is an earthly paradise four our seared selves by the hell of the hustle and bustle of the daily life, or that the houses we have locked ourselves down are like the Apostle’s hut on the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches of the Aegean. However today, when the third holiday on religious calendar is on, I dare say that the worst of all for everyone and this sad situation has a comforting or more hopeful aspect and the best aspect of it is the opportunity to reflect while in a forced lockdown we are today on how much time we waste on the annoying vanity of the daily life and how little we deal with our inner self and the blessed circle of our families.
While Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical faithful continue today, after the Holy Week of the Year, “in the footsteps of the Redeemer,” the Holy Month of Ramadan, the bequest of centuries and the calendar sign of Prophet Muhammad’s generosity, may God’s peace be upon him, marks the beginning of the spiritual renewal of Muslim believers, three consecutive knocks heard within the common walls of an unimaginable isolation to save lives and protect each other’s health, keeping distance from each other. They are three knocks on the temples’ closed doors, which precisely for this echo though a little also to the inner self of the non—believers, who yet equally need strength to resist the pressure of the world’s slowed reverse rotation.
You can say anything you wish to say about me but, for me that God is not necessarily associated with entering a temple, or with the name of an only prophet or a closed religious territory, this omen that connects the lives of the Albanian believers of all faiths in the course of the calendar, at this time both materially cursed and spiritually prosperous, is a good omen for all our people, without exception. It reminds me of those three unknown visitors, who deigned Abraham and Sarah in their lonely tent at the heart of the desert.
And this is the moment to thousands of times wholeheartedly thank Albanian clergy and faithful, who are used to flock to the temples at the time of knocks, for the high awareness and the painful, yet strong and right decision not to be disconnected from the chain of our national resistance, thus exalting and not embarrassing their Lord by keeping the temples locked.
Just like in the days when one had to descend to the catacombs or rest only in the oases in the Hijaz, the Albanian clergy restrained themselves from responding by resorting to the closed mind’s rejection, but with the open heart’s humanism to Albania and whole Albanian peoples’ need to let the invisible enemy no open pathway, gathering in the name of the Lord, just what the invisible enemy would need to stab and kill us. With prudence and understanding in God and in science, the temples were replaced by the house church, the family mosque, the heart’s masjid in the solitary and universal prayer of the believers in different prophets, with the same God.
Thanks to this wisdom in Albanian clergy’s decision, the temples locked today will reopen tomorrow without any stain of human error and with no finger pointing to the men of God as part of the evil deeds of the invisible enemy. For the good days will soon come. And what the Albanian clergy did will teach also the non-believers that only the best comes for them from the houses of God here in Albania, because the clergy of this country sees and loves the Albanian people as a whole, just like God Himself on the land we temporarily live today.
Today I can openly say, dear friends and brothers of the clergy, that you are a radiant and inspiring example for the whole society and that the whole society, every individual of this society, should take and make your example their own, respecting without complaining and whining, as you already did with the rules of this world war against the invisible enemy. For health comes first, and above all the life of everyone is related to health, heart and mind and then, of course, stomach.
So, all together, believers or non-believers, as reasonable and patient people, we will succeed in this war and Albania, whose life and health depends today on the decisions and actions of each of us, little kids and grown-up adults, rich and poor, old and young, will certainly not be disgraced of the deaths that can be avoided and of the wounds that can be relieved, thanks to the strength of the patience and our unity.
As the translation of the St. Joan’s liturgy has it, we will firmly stay in our trenches till the end, thinking of “good winds, a peaceful time, for the sick, suffering and captives” of this blind evil, which will not blind our light of reason, nor will it burn the thread of our patience, challenging us by all the great troubles it has rained on us as people, as a family, as a state and as a nation.
One Hadith says: “None of you should point a weapon at his brother. Verily, he does not know if Satan will cause his hand to slip and thus he falls into a pit of fire.” So, all those losing patience and protests against the rules, saying we should go about daily life and let God have His way, today we can learn it from the example set by the Albanian clergy and religious leaders and we can see it at the closed doors of every temple, where the climax of the religious calendar knocked on three times in a row, that whoever lets God have the responsibility towards the others, he is just turning away from God and heading to the fire.
The Prophet- Ibn Khaldun writes – “was not sent to teach us the religious law, not medicine or any other ordinary matter!” So, in the religious law, the Albanian clerics are telling everyone that none of us should question or discuss the medicine today, but heed and abide by its advice, to save lives that medicine wouldn’t save without us, redeem the wounds that medicine wouldn’t heal without us.
“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.” This is the reflection in the mirror of the essence of faith in God.
“Love your relatives as much as you love yourself.” This is the reflection of each of us in the mirror of this war, seeing at ourselves our relatives, parents, children, neighbours and even strangers in every corner of the country and all over the world.
You brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith, once again demonstrated readiness to be a reflection in the mirror of the war for all Albanian sisters and brothers, abiding by the decision to close the temples and accept the ceiling of the house as a piece of the missing temple ceiling.
Islam is a faith that best knows how precious a life in its fragility is and what really matters.
“If you make the forbidden permissible and make the permissible forbidden, if you make a mistake in understanding it that there is nothing wrong with it,” says the Prophet, may God’s peace be upon Him. But it is forever forbidden to sow death, and what is permissible that can never be forbidden, it is saving life.
Therefore today, as Abu Hurairah warned: “O son of my brother, when I narrate a Hadith of the Messenger of Allah to you, then do not try to make any examples for it,” and as the Mother of Believers (Aisha) advice: “When it comes to these issues, be content with Quran.”
Therefore also, the simpler the Iftar solemnity this year, the more accepted the evening prayer; the quieter the steps to the mosque, the stronger and more echoing the call to prayer, after which the spirit of faith will fill your homes with joy during iftar, as you once the incense did in the Suleiman’s crystal palace.
85 years ago, Hafiz Ali Kraja made a simple statement, but which should resonate strongly with us today all day: “It would be a mistake to imagine the nation as an association between individuals with no sense of responsibility and obligation.”
These feelings of responsibility and obligation, at the tough wartimes in particular, were held high despite misery, sufferings and hardship by Hafiz Ali Korça, a patriot amongst the most patriot ones.
“If the flood Noah’s day was a flood of water, this one is a flood of blood,” he would have prophesised today.
And to conclude, my dear friends, let me quote someone who was neither a prophet nor a believer, but a scientist and one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin. He said that best of all medicine is resting and fasting. But religion sees also fasting as fasting as a restraint in speaking hastily and nasty and as a way to correct your actions under the inner weight of reflection that is facilitated precisely thanks to fasting.
In this difficult time, when our national and household economy is being hit hard, fasting, no matter how small, would also reduce the nasty speaking of those who complain and complain, even speculating that many are dying of hunger or even worse, saying that people are dying of hunger when making their comments on Facebook, because it would dilute the poisons in your body, facilitate your thoughts and curb the language from these meaningless expressions, nor in support of the historical reality of the Albanians over the centuries and not today. The Albanian has not and will never die of hunger for a thousand and one reasons.
But the reason I highlighted bread and hunger at the end of this speech since the Iftar is directly related to the physical, spiritual and mental welfare fasting brings to Muslim faithful. With cleansing process throughout the entire body and facilitation of thought as the Prophet’s message holds it, as well as the whole religious practice of every faith suggest to avoid usual meals on certain days of the month, or even the scientific practice of medicine itself in times of issues for the physical and mental health of man.
From here, the human body and mind is directly nurtured to the human’s body and mind the source of the positive renewal energies after suffering from the breakdown of eating habits, which is also found in the great introductory sentence of Ramadan days, after suffering the relief comes.
This is not a political formula, it is neither a government recipe over this not easy days for the economy of our Albanian family, but it is an introductory wish of this day ending like a new beginning for our Muslim mothers and sisters for them to have a healthy and accepted fasting during the holy month of Ramadan – and also for all others, who, although being non-believers, can find individual and family relief by seeking it precisely where suffering of this tough time originates!
God bless the Albanian clergy! May God bless Albania and give us all more strength and clarity under the divine light of Hilal, during this crucial month ahead of us as a state, as a people, as a community, as a family, as individuals!
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