Thursday 14 November 2002

Let's not forget our own Muslim intolerance

by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Tonight, Insha'Allah, God willing, I will break my fast with some Egyptians who have invited me to join them. I have never met them and yet I know my daughter and I will be welcomed with much affection, for this is what happens (or is meant to happen) during Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting which began last week.

Doors and hearts should be flung open – to non Muslims too. You become more contemplative, aware of the pain of others and your own failures, less addicted to choking consumerism and excess. In terms of life choices and values, I have less in common with my Egyptian hosts than I do with, say, my colleagues on The Independent.

During this period there is indeed an ummah, a global connection that links diverse Muslims through the world, but it is a connection of the various, not a brutally enforced conformity that Bin Laden and other dictators of faith impose on Muslims worldwide. As I share with others the joy and relief at the end of the day-long abstinence from food and drink, there will be much talk, mostly about the state of the world we are in.

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