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Commentary : Looking Inward at Sacred Times

March 30, 1991|MUZAMMIL H. SIDDIQI | Siddiqi, the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, Garden Grove, holds a Ph.D. in comparative religion from Harvard and is a member of the Figh (Islamic Law) Council of North America. and

Jews began observing Passover Friday night and most Christians celebrate the culmination of their Easter season Sunday--as Muslins are halfway through their holiest month, Ramadan. The Times asked three clergy members to reflect on the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, which affected adherents of all three faiths who whare ancient religious roots.

Ramadan is for Muslims not only a time of fasting but also a month of prayers and charity. It is a time of joy and celebration.

People feel especially closer to God. As we experience God's forgiveness and love in a special way in this month, we also try to forgive each other. Ramadan is also for us a time of self-discipline, self-examination and purification.

This year Ramadan has come when our emotions are mixed.

On the one hand, we feel a sense of thanks and satisfaction that our brethren of Kuwait are returning to their land and to their homes. We are pleased that their land is liberated from an oppressive occupation. We are pleased that the trauma and suffering that they experienced at the hands of Iraqi occupying forces in the past seven months are over.

But we are also sad that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of our Iraqi brethren have also suffered death and destruction as a result of the Persian Gulf War. The sight of the destruction of land, resources, environment and people makes us sick, depressed and angry.

However, thank God, the war is over. It is time now for all sides to think seriously what happened and why. It is time for all sides to repent before God, ask His forgiveness and work to remove all those causes that brought these evils and destruction to them, and to their lands. They must strive to build a better future, a future based on justice, human rights and on noble universal values and principles of Islam.

Muslims must know that they are one brotherhood. Kuwaitis, Saudis, Iraqis, Palestinian, Jordanian, Yemeni, Egyptian or Syrian, etc., are mere names for identification purposes only. Their ultimate allegiance must be to God and to values of their faith. They must learn to live with each other, forgive each other and forget their differences.

One may agree or disagree with the justness and the justification for the war.

I personally hold that this war was not necessary. If the liberation of Kuwait was our real aim, we could have achieved that through many peaceful ways without causing so much death and destruction.

Nevertheless, we do recognize that our U.S. troops are returning home with a sense of pride, with mission accomplished. They are coming home to a hero's welcome. We wish them peace, as they deserve.

However, I hope that this experience will make neither them nor any American relish war and that we will not forget the sufferings we caused.

Muslims, Christians and Jews have all sinned against each other and against God. We must repent as Americans and must do it soon. In the future we must aim our efforts more toward peace, justice and reconciliation at home and abroad. Our government must pursue the cause of justice and peace in the world.

We should show the same enthusiasm, if not more, for peace that we showed for war.

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