Ramadan–So What?

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

Most Americans would be unaware that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, has begun. Many would only be casually aware that this is one of the five pillars of Islam; the date changes each year due to the lunar calendar but faithful adherents fast from dawn to dusk until the month concludes with the Feast of Eid.

Having studied Islam we were familiar with this expression of piety but learned much more regarding its practice during the years we lived on the mission field. In the more fanatical countries fasting is compulsory though in most countries allowances are made for foreigners and non-Muslims. All do without food, but the more devout don’t drink water and some don’t even swallow their saliva.

It was intriguing to find, however, that Muslims probably eat more during the month than at any other time. Women of the house arise in the early morning hours to prepare a very elaborate breakfast intended to provide nourishment throughout the day. Then when the call to evening prayer signals the breaking of the fast, everyone hurries home to indulge in what could be described, from our understanding, as a Thanksgiving Day dinner. Not much gets done during Ramadan as offices are open for only a few hours, no one has the strength for much physical labor, and it is easier to endure the denial of food by sleeping through the afternoon.

So what does that have to do with us? Muslim fasting is actually for the same purpose Christians may occasionally fast–the desire to know God in a deeper more intimate relationship. We should not fast to get something from God but out of a desire for God Himself that exceeds our desire for food. Wonderfully, God does meet our needs and answer our prayers, but we should not fast presuming by our piety we are obligating God to do something for us.

While most Muslims may fast due to mandatory legalism, it is still a time in which they are seeking God and praying God would reveal Himself. That is ironic since they have a fatalistic faith in an impersonal God who is aloof and cannot be known. But invariably God reveals Himself to many Muslims around the world during the month of Ramadan. In fact, the final night of fasting is called the “Night of Power” in which many will seek God all night.

Testimonies are abundant of those who have dreams and visions of Jesus appearing to them and saying, “Follow Me.” Others will be impressed to find someone with “the book” that tells the way to eternal life. None of these revelations are sufficient for salvation, but they break down the barriers in their heart, they lead to an inquisitiveness to find out who Jesus is or to know what the Bible says. Certainly, many may not be sincere in their observing the fast and saying perfunctory prayers, but many are.

What does this have to do with us? What if Christians fervently prayed during the month of Ramadan that God would reveal Himself to Muslims in this time of seeking? What if we covered millions of fasting Muslims with intercession that something would happen in their spiritual search? Believing in the power of prayer, would not God respond to our heart-felt burden for the lost millions of the world?

It is tragic that we should be so wrapped up in our self-interests and provincial worldview that we are unaware of more than a billion followers of Islam in the world that are dying without Christ. We are repulsed by a religion that seems to justify terrorism and suicide bombers committed to the destruction of life, but don’t we realize that Jesus is the answer? Rather than hardening our hearts and dismissing this their lostness and the judgment of God as something they deserve, we should plead for their hearts to be open to God revealing Himself through Jesus Christ.

After all, Christ died for them, too. God loves them; shouldn’t we?

2 Comments on “Ramadan–So What?”

  1. Carra Kumpe

    Thank you for the article. I’ve been living in N, VA at my son’s home for the past year and have become very good friends with our next door neighbor who is Muslim from Pakastan. A few days ago, as I drove out, I saw them sitting on their garage floor, which faces east, praying. She and I have had many discussions and when there is any crisis in the family she asks me to please pray. I continually pray for their salvation and will continue—especially during Ramadan.

  2. Warren Larson

    Thanks much for the article. It helps to turn our attention to the Muslim need for Christ.

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