Young Muslim-American entrepreneur launches #Muslims4Lent
This Lent, many Muslims around the world are showing solidarity with Christians by fasting from something and posting a photo of their commitment on Twitter.
According to the The Independent, Bassel Riche, a 28 year-old Muslim American, was inspired to launch the campaign by something he experienced at his alma mater, the University of Houston. Non-Muslim students would join Muslim students in a Ramadan "Fast-A-Thon" and together, they would gather in a large hall, break their fast together, eat dinner, and engage in interfaith dialogue.
The hashtag #Muslims4Lent is being used for the campaign and is being promoted through Twitter as well as a Facebook event page.
Riche, who has now observed Lent for about four years decided he wanted to encourage fellow Muslims to join him, and many have — from countries like the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Spain, Malaysia, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, and Pakistan.
“The goal is to thank the many Christians that have always shown love and respect towards Islam by showing them we in turn have the utmost respect for their beliefs,” Riche said.
Riche told The Huffington Post that reactions from both Muslims and Christians have so far been positive. "Many of my Christian friends have responded showing their support and appreciation for these interfaith efforts. I hope this is just the beginning."
Riche believes the #Muslims4Lent campaign offers an opportunity for dialogue and greater understanding between faiths and that it’s an important way to express solidarity in the wake of atrocities committed by Islamic extremists, such as the events in Paris and Copenhagen, as well as the recent beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.
Riche is also the founder of EidPrayLove, a website which aims to show Islam as a religion of peace. “Despite what our extremists have done to hijack our religion, we believe in peace, love, tolerance & harmony with other faiths. We don’t want to be seen as some distant, mysterious faith — we want to be accessible for people to open up to us, that is the only way we can counter the misinformation," he said.
Tweeted photos of Muslims participating in the #Muslims4Lent campaign show the various things they are giving up this Lent, including online shopping, sweets, chocolate, and TacoBell.