April 9, 2021
Ramadan, the Islamic month of daytime fasting and heightened devotion, charity and self discipline, begins Tuesday April 13 and continues until May 14. In non-COVID times, Muslim families and communities eagerly come together for prayer and nightly iftar (fast-breaking) meals. Ramadan is a time many Muslims enjoy for both the devotional and community aspects, despite the hardships. The word Ramadan means “scorching heat”, and may refer to the thirst and discomfort that goes with fasting, even from water, in very hot countries. It may also refer to the purification that Muslims expect a month of discipline and good behavior to produce.
Ramadan, like Christmas, is being commercialized. A flood of TV entertainment targets evening audiences celebrating the iftar, which often involves elaborate dishes and delicacies only available during Ramadan. Hotels set up tents and offer high-priced meals from sunset to sunrise every night. However, this month of fasting and focussed prayer strengthens the faithful, unites the Islamic community and entrenches a system that opposes God’s redemptive plan for humankind.
What do Christians do as a global community that has significant spiritual impact? The Church observes Christmas (split between two dates) but, we have to admit, with no observable discipline or restraint! Lent is observed by some and especially in the Eastern church, includes fasting. Passion Week, Good Friday (Passover) and Resurrection Sunday are Christendom’s most important days, observed by all. Easter Season is from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost, a feast day much less celebrated.
Last year, Ramadan occurred fully within Easter Season, and I wrote a GHPL encouraging Christians to pray during that “in-between” time that Jesus would do again what He did after His resurrection, but this time among Muslims: “After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Ramadan 2021 is likewise sandwiched between Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost.
- To put something or someone in a small space between two other, usually bigger, things or people (Cambridge Dictionary)
- Insert or squeeze (someone or something) between two other people or things, typically in a restricted space or so as to be uncomfortable (Oxford Dictionary)
Ramadan is big, but the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Son of God and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are incomparably bigger. Ramadan is supposed to be uncomfortable, but what about the scorching discomfort of being convicted by the Holy Spirit of being wrong “about sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn 16:8)?
What could Christians do as a global community during Easter Season that would have significant spiritual impact on Muslims? Jesus prayed for us, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 17:21).
Is there any wonder Muslims can’t understand our belief that the One God is actually three Persons? Just as Jesus came to show us the Father (Jn 14:9), His Church is supposed to show the world that the Godhead is One – by being one! God is One and wants all who are called by His name to be one with each other and with Him. Then the world will believe. God intends to answer His prayer!
What if we were to pray in agreement with Jesus? That all of us may be one, Father, just as You are in Jesus and He in You. What if we were to repent for not making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3)? What if we were to make the first move to restore relationship with a Christian brother or sister? What if God answered our prayer?