Bahai News - Gratitude is the hallmark of many faiths
Gratitude is the hallmark of many faiths
Can a civil holiday like Thanksgiving also be religious?
The giving of thanks does not belong to any one faith but speaks
from the depths of them all. Perhaps this justifies President Bush's
calling Thanksgiving "America's most beloved tradition." Gratitude is
a sign of spiritual life.
In fact, the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, repeatedly associates
believers with those who are grateful. The Christian "Eucharist" is
derived from a Greek term meaning "thanksgiving." As Hinduism
developed, the very act of breathing became a sacrifice of praise.
The first thanksgiving feasts in this land were offered by
American Indians, long before they heard of Christianity. The
legendary "first Thanksgiving" with the Indians and the Christian
Pilgrims was an interfaith occasion. Furthermore, the Pilgrims
understood their own feasts as a version of the Jewish Festival of Booths.
In 1492 Christians - and most likely Jews - were aboard the ships
of Columbus, using maps from the Muslim world. Islam touched this
continent in 1539. Buddhist immigrants arrived in the 1840s. A Hindu
group formed here in 1896. America has become perhaps the most
religiously pluralistic nation in history.
While turkey remains an emblem of the feast, the Kansas City
Interfaith Council's annual Thanksgiving Sunday meal includes a
vegetarian option for those whose faith forbids meat. Baha'i,
Buddhist, Sikh, Sufi, Unitarian Universalist, Wiccan and Zoroastrian
speakers and those from faiths already mentioned participate.
The universal call to give thanks inspires us as Americans. This
is why one special day becomes a model for every day of living one's
faith, whatever it is, with thanksgiving.
Vern Barnet does interfaith work in the Kansas City area. His Web
site is www.cres.org.
©Copyright 2001, The Kansas City Star
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