Ramadan: A time of fasting and a time of prayer…
Today I walked by our local mosque and there were over a hundred men overflowing out of the building pouring down onto the sidewalk, covering it in its entirety . They were praying to Allah (God), seeking his mercy and celebrating.
They have not eaten or drank anything since before the sunrise and yet they seem filled with joy. Though the month of Ramadan changes yearly if following the Gregorian calendar, the traditions stay the same. This is a time to remember that Allah is the provider and therefore there is no food or drink to be eaten during the daylight hours, relying on him for sustenance. The fasting of Ramadan is equated in Islam as almost a sure fire way to earn Allah’s forgiveness.
When asked about which action would help secure a place in Paradise, the Prophet Mohammad according to Islamic tradition answered like this, “Take to Fasting, there is nothing like it.” (Ahmed)
Mohammad also is quoted as saying, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Bukhari) It is believed that during the month of Ramadan all good deeds are equal to 10 good deeds performed outside of this holy month.
It is no wonder why this is such a time of celebration. Muslims believe it is a time to find forgiveness and growth in Allah, plus it’s also obligatory for them according the Koran.
However, there are two sides to every story…
I was talking to a post-Muslim man born in an Islamic country and he shared with me something interesting, he said that Ramadan could not be from god because “God is supposed to be love and being hungry is evil.”
I don’t think I completely agree with how he arrived to his conclusion… however his words did get me thinking.
You know, Jesus talked a lot about prayer and fasting, and so did Paul. In Mathew Chapter 6 Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray and later on in that same chapter He says, “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen…”
Jesus expected we’d fast… but he didn’t really command it.
This might seem small, but it’s actually quite pivotal. Muslims fast because they have to and because they seek to earn Allah’s mercy through their deeds… Christians though should fast not to earn God’s mercy or because they have to. Instead, we should fast because we desire to be united with our King. By giving up something that is important to us we will have more time to dwell on God and His perfect will.
It’s Ramadan and the Muslim people are fasting because they have to. It’s Ramadan; and we don’t have to fast. Our salvation was paid for by Jesus Christ, but still, maybe we could fast and pray for those caught up in the legalism of Islam to find the freedom of Christ. Or maybe we could simply share with a Muslim neighbor about why we don’t have a specific month of required fasting, again sharing the freedom and life of Christ.
Whatever we do, we are called to shine His light and to shine His love. We should remember that we are saved by His grace and given the honor to be called his ambassadors and children.
We have been saved by His sacrifice, given new life; that’s great… but now that we have new life, what will we do with it?