It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and that means the start of Ramadan – this year in July for the first time since 1980 – and most of the UK’s three million Muslims, including older children, will be fasting from dawn to sundown and focusing on being better Muslims and people. Ramadan is a great opportunity to find out more about Islam in RE lessons and beyond and also a chance for everyone to practice a little introspection. Fasting is a powerful way to empathise with those in need and give thanks for our food, and some non-Muslim students may like to practice their own controlled fasts during the Ramadan period in support of their Muslim friends. The following news stories, multimedia, teaching resources and recommended websites will help students understand the meaning behind Ramadan and how this important festival works.
The Islamic Religious Community (CO.RE.IS.) Italian, has, for twenty years been active in dialogues with institutions and with other religions. It is committed to spreading the knowledge of Islam in the larger society. To understand Islam and Italy we spoke with the general manager of CO.RE.IS. Italian, ‘Abd as-Sabur Turrini.
What is known about Islam in Italy?
Almost nothing, unfortunately. In our country Islam is considered a problem, based on news reports and unfortunate incidents related to terrorism in the world which is always the media focus. Whoever carries out terrorist acts, however, violates the teaching of the Qur’an (the holy book of Islam) and the example of the Prophet. This lack of knowledge is furthered by the fact that in Italy, Islam is “immature” compared to the rest of Europe, because, although it has many faithful, its spread is recent. In other countries there is a lot longer history, like in France, for example, where some Muslims are fourth-generation, or in Germany with Turkish immigrants, or in England.
In Italy, for example, you think that the Muslim community is monolithic and abides by a pyramidal structure like that of the Catholic Church, therefore, hierarchy is expected especially when entering into interreligious agreements. In fact, the community is divided into heterogeneous groups, but united by the principles of faith. In our country, as well, which is unique in Europe, Islam is not recognized, despite the large number of the faithful. The state should treat agreements only with groups willing to enter into dialogue; expecting the presence all groups, even those who do not want to be there, is a sign of lack of knowledge of Muslim reality. Of course, the agreement can be reached by a single organization, but for the CO.RE.IS. Italian platform it is preferable to include many because Islam is heterogeneous.
What does the CO.RE.IS. Italian do to spread the knowledge of Islam?
For twenty years CO.RE.IS has supported religious dialogue. CO.RE.IS has a very good relationship with both the Jewish community and with the Christian community. Our vice president Yahya Pallavicini was a member of the Council for Islam at the Ministry of Interior with the ministers Pisanu and Amato and then the Integration Committee established by Minister Maroni. The association carries out many initiatives for both the dialogue between religions and cultural activities. Of course, spreading the knowledge of Islam in Italian society depends not only on us, but also on institutions and the media, which can make the job easier and more widespread. Knowing that, for example, the god of Islam is the same as the Christian and Jewish God, and that the Islamic religion recognizes prophets like Moses and Jesus.
At the beginning of 2013, the CO.RE.IS. Italian has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education to include Islam in school teaching, could you expand?
This agreement is part of a more general initiative carried out by our organization. We do not want school and Islam separated rather we want the education institution integrated with knowledge about Islam to promote integration.