Ramadan Series #1: A Gift from God

“Ramadan is a gift from God.” So a local friend told me at the outset of the ninth lunar month.

By a Pioneers worker in the Middle East. This article is the first in a four-part series exploring why Ramadan is an important season for Muslims and how Christians might respond.

Why Do Muslims Fast During Ramadan?

Fasting during the daylight hours of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. All observant Muslims must adhere to these five acts or behaviors. The origin of fasting during the “holiest” month dates back to the advent of Islam and commemorates the first time Muhammad received his revelations in a.d. 610 that would form the Qur’an. Travelers, those who are ill and some others are exempt from fasting, but can also make up missed fasting days at another time.

Muslims break the daily fast when they hear the sunset call to prayer. Typically, they eat a date and drink water, following the practice of Muhammad. They then proceed to share a meal with family or friends, enjoying many dishes that are only eaten during Ramadan. One friend relayed how their family eats and sits together well into the night until one by one they nod off. They eat another meal around 4 a.m. before the next day’s fasting begins. Ramadan concludes with a three-day holiday when they enjoy special foods and wear new clothes.

Why Is Ramadan a Gift?

Muslims believe they must build up credit with God by behaving in a certain way and doing certain things. Fasting during daylight hours in Ramadan is a chance to earn credit and hopefully gain access to paradise. A local friend said, “rewards are multiplied” during Ramadan, meaning that any extra effort to perform the pillars, particularly fasting, will mean extra credit from God.

A Christian Reflection on Fasting

As Pastor Tim Keller says, the gospel is “good news, not good advice.” In Scripture, God announced salvation—He did not present a list of duties to perform. While fasting is beneficial, it will not make us acceptable to God.

God’s plan to make us clean and cover our shame is throughout Scripture. We have been “set free from sin” (Romans 6:22). We no longer have to fear and wonder about the outcome when we meet God. Yes, we are called to pray, fast, and forgive, but in response to salvation.

The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 6:22-23

May many more Muslims comprehend the “breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18-19). The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:22-23).

Adapted from an article originally published by Arab World Ministries.

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