Ramadan Series #3: Finding Forgiveness

“The gates of forgiveness are open during Ramadan,” my local friend said.

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

The absolute sovereignty of God is a central doctrine in Islam. Muslims do not know nor can they predict what He will do next because He can do whatever He wants. An implication of this is that Muslims cannot know for certain if their sins have been forgiven. Maybe God will smile on their good deeds and admit them to paradise, but maybe not. A Muslim lady said they could come within one meter of heaven and God would change His mind. She admitted this scared her.

Will God Forgive?

Another friend said his father asked a funny question. He asked if he had done enough. Had he done enough good deeds during his long life to please God? His son assured him that oh yes, he had done enough to warrant God’s forgiveness and pleasure.

But during Ramadan, this all becomes more attainable.

In addition to the Qur’an, Muslims learn from the Hadith, a collection of teachings about Islam and the life of Muhammad. One saying in the Hadith notes that “whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari 2:37) This gives great hope to Muslims. It can also lead to pride in achieving salvation, as it is based on their performance.

A Christian Reflection on Forgiveness

Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in that being reconciled with God was God’s initiative. Most religions teach their followers how to find God. In contrast, the apostle Paul tells us that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). Jesus’ birth was announced to His earthly father Joseph as the birth of “Immanuel,” which means God with us (Matthew 1:23).

Forgiveness for our sins is generated from God and is rooted in His character. It does not hinge on fasting or any other efforts.

In the Psalms, David says: As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

Micah marvels at the same truth. Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).

May Muslims know the anchor and certainty of God’s forgiveness through the person and work of Christ on the cross.

Adapted from an article originally published by Arab World Ministries.

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