In just five days, nearly 25% of the world will enter into what they consider to be the holiest month of the year, Ramadan. Muslims all over the world will fast to celebrate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad—that’s nearly two billion people. In 2010, the best estimate for Muslims in our own city and region was just under 4,000. With the increase of immigration, refugee resettlement, and diversity, this number is certainly larger. You have neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and kids’ classmates who will be celebrating Ramadan, who will be fasting from the rising of the sun to its setting. Sound familiar?
Psalm 113:3 says, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!” Who’s name? The Lord, Yahweh, the Great I Am. This Ramadan, we have an opportunity to point to the one who is truly worthy to be worshiped from the rising of the sun to its setting. Here are three ways you can love your Muslim neighbors and friends during Ramadan.
1. Ask Questions and Be Ready to Share
Ramadan presents an opportunity for you to be a learner. You can humble yourself and ask a myriad of questions concerning why and how Muslims celebrate. One Muslim described it this way:
The reason Muslims fast is to discipline their body and mind. The absence of food and drink and other pleasures provides a perfect opportunity to concentrate on prayer and worship. Not having the luxuries of life at hand makes it easier to reflect on life and be grateful for what we do have. Muslims use this month to start afresh and give their life a new direction . . . to make resolutions, similar to New Year’s resolutions. It is a time when they decide how they want to live their life for the next year and try their very best to adhere to their new commitments.
Be slow to respond and quick to listen as you explore your friend’s faith. Listen for spaces where you can share the reason for your faith and ultimate hope. While these types of questions should create a space for you to share the gospel, you need to be patient. You’re talking to a person who was created in the image of God, who God wants to call to repentance, not just a project or evangelism checklist box.
Be ready to share the gospel. As I said before, you need to be slow to respond, but you still need to respond. Muslims are typically much more open to talking about religious and spiritual matters, especially during Ramadan. Although the largest practice during this month is fasting, Muslims will seek to do more good in every area as doing so earns them additional merits. Be sure to share the good news that no work done by man can earn our salvation, only the work accomplished by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection can do that. As they seek to read through the entire Quran this month, offer to read with them, and ask them to read Scripture with you.
2. Break Fast And/Or Join a Fast
Each day at sunset, Muslims will break fast, called Ifthar. This is an awesome opportunity to enter into community and be present. Islamic cultures are typically much more collectivistic than our Western culture. Community is a HUGE deal. If someone invites you into their home to break fast, drop everything you’re doing and go—maybe not everything, but definitely go! This gives you an even better space to ask questions and talk about faith with your Muslim neighbors and friends. One way to do this is to buy them dates, which is what Muslims break the fast with, according to teaching from the Quran.
Another way to enter into their celebration as a follower of Jesus is to fast alongside them. If you have a co-worker, consider spending your lunch break fasting and discussing both of your reasons for fasting. Muslims are fasting to earn right standing with Allah and increase their good deeds for salvation. You would be fasting in order to remind yourself that God is even more essential to life than food. You would be fasting from acceptance, as a reminder of the gospel, not for acceptance.
Ramadan is a time where Muslims are very open and focused on spiritual matters. Whether you have Muslim friends, neighbors, or co-workers, you can be praying that the Lord would reveal himself as the one true God even as Muslims seek to worship Allah. Here are some specific ways to pray.
- Muslims would become disillusioned with the many rules and requirements that bind them to a belief system that cannot save them.
- They realize that no amount of human self-cleansing will save them from an eternity in hell.
- You and others in our church would have the opportunity to share the gospel, and God would prepare the hearts of Muslims in our city and region to believe.
- Many Muslims come to faith through receiving dreams and visions from the Lord. Pray God would give Muslims dreams concerning himself and that you or other church members would be available to explain them.
-Greta Jo Griswold (2 yr. College Resident)