The Beauty of Tolerance: Non-Muslims Welcoming the Holy Month of Ramadan in Aceh

21 April 2023 | BBG News

Different but still the same. That sentence can represent the relationship between different religious communities in Aceh, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Not only Muslims but non-Muslims also welcome this holy month in the city known as “Serambi Mekah.” During Ramadan, Muslims in Aceh fast and worship more intensively. However, non-Muslims in Aceh do not necessarily follow this tradition because they have their own beliefs and traditions. Nevertheless, non-Muslims in Aceh still respect and honor the celebration of Ramadan by Muslims. This is demonstrated through the tolerance and enthusiasm of non-Muslims during Ramadan. So, what kind of tolerance and enthusiasm are shown?

One example of Ramadan tolerance that can be seen in Aceh is the tradition of “Makmeugang”, which takes place the day before the first day of fasting. This Ramadan welcoming tradition also benefits non-Muslims because on that day, all activities such as school, college, or work are suspended. Thus, they can feel the atmosphere leading up to the first day of fasting by gathering with family.

Furthermore, another form of tolerance during Ramadan is the breaking of the fast together. This event is usually held by Muslims in the neighborhood to strengthen relationships with neighbors and relatives. Some non-Muslims are also invited to join this event and they bring food and drinks that are appropriate for their beliefs. They also avoid offering food and drinks to Muslims continuously before the breaking of the fast.

Not only that, even though they do not participate in breaking the fast together, non-Muslims still respect the time of breaking the fast by Muslims, for example by not doing activities that disturb the time of breaking the fast. They also show respect and tolerance by saying “Happy breaking of the fast” to Muslims who are fasting. This shows that Christians and Muslims in Aceh are able to live harmoniously side by side.

In addition, there are also some churches located around mosques in Aceh. Despite their different beliefs, the church and mosque share the same space and live together peacefully. During Ramadan, the church and mosque also do not disturb each other and ensure that their worship activities do not interfere with the activities of other religious communities, as we live in a tolerant society.

Did you know that tolerance comes from the Latin word ‘tolerate’, which means patience? The attitude of tolerance is mandatory for every citizen of Indonesia. By doing so, we can benefit from tolerance not only during Ramadan but every day. By having a sense of tolerance, we can experience the beauty of understanding and respecting differences around us.

The positive impacts that can be felt when we have tolerance within us are as follows. Firts, we can increase our faith. In Indonesia, there are 6 official religions, namely Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. By having tolerance within us, every religious believer will appreciate the existence of other religions and also encourage them to live according to their own beliefs. This will help them to increase their faith and devotion to the Almighty.

Second, it creates a sense of unity and peace. Creating peace can be another benefit of tolerance. Can you imagine if there was no tolerance in religious life in Aceh? What about in Indonesia? Surely the situation would be chaotic and there would be a high risk of conflict. Here, tolerance is needed to create a sense of peaceful and harmonious coexistence among different religious communities. If peace is maintained, then the country will also be stable and free from conflict.

Third, it strengthens the sense of brotherhood. Another benefit of tolerance is to maintain and strengthen the brotherhood among human beings. Strong brotherhood ties are crucial in life as part of a diverse nation or pluralistic society with its religious way of life. Religious tolerance can prevent conflicts and resolve any disputes that arise due to differences.

Fourth, it can create a sense of security for minority religions. One of the benefits of tolerance is ensuring a sense of security for religious communities, especially those who are minorities in practicing their worship or rituals according to their religious teachings. Additionally, another benefit of tolerance serves as a reminder that there should be no element of coercion in religion for any group.

Fifth, it promotes greater appreciation of differences. As children grow older, they become more aware of differences. They may ask why their friend goes to the mosque while they go to church. They may also wonder about other differences, such as origins, language, and more. By accepting differences and respecting each other, it fosters a sense of security and prevents hostility. Appreciating differences is one of the benefits of tolerance.

Sixth, another benefit of tolerance is developing empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand what others are feeling by imagining oneself in their position, regardless of differences such as religion, ethnicity, wealth, and more.

Seventh, loving oneself is also a benefit of tolerance. Self-love is an important issue in the modern era, where many young people compare themselves to others and are not proud of the life they have. Teaching children tolerance from an early age not only helps them appreciate others, but also helps them accept themselves for who they are, both physically and mentally. Having self-love motivates children to live better, be proud of themselves, and feel confident in their lives. Finally, tolerance helps avoid discriminatory or racist behavior.

By doing so, we can experience the beauty of life in tolerance, which can be enjoyed not only during Ramadan but also in our daily lives. “Different but still the same” if Aceh can live in harmony, why can’t Indonesia?

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