Ramadan – What is it?

The 9th month of the Islamic calendar is called “Ramadan” where millions of Muslims partake in “sawm” – fasting. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. During this time, Muslims all around the world- the “ummah” fast from sunrise until sunset. No food or water is to be taken at this time. Many who are stronger in their Islamic faith carry around a plastic bag to refrain from swallowing their saliva. Not only are they to refrain from food and water but also evil thoughts, desires, and sexual interaction. The term Ramadan literally means “scorching” in Arabic. Ramadan is known as the holy month when angel Gabriel delivered the words of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. And the goal of Ramadan is to be closer to Allah and purified (or “scorched” away) of one’s sins and evil desires.

The month of Ramadan falls dependent on the moon’s lunar cycle. Since it does not match the solar calendar, Ramadan shifts about 10-11 days each year. This year, Ramadan began on July 8th with the first full day of fasting on the 9th. After approximately 20 days of fasting, the remaining 10 days are known to be the most powerful and highly blessed days of this fasting period. The 27th night particularly is known to be the “night of power”. It is known that this night is when Prophet Muhammad first received the revelation of the Quran. This time is met with heightened spiritually and extra intense reading of the Quran. Many stay awake all night reading and reciting the Quran as this day passes. Ramadan ends on the 30th day of fasting with the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. It is a day of celebration. People wear new clothes, visit family, friends with gifts and spend time with each other.

This time of fasting may seem like just another religious ritual and tradition. It is but also at the same time it is a spiritual darkness and stronghold that has been rooted in the Islamic religion ever since the beginning of this religion. This time is also a time where the worldwide Islamic community is strengthened in their Islamic identity. If you weren’t a good Muslim all year and lost your form as a Muslim, this is the time where you make it up and reshape yourself as a Muslim. This strengthens the umma to run again and wait another year for the next Ramadan.

So what does this mean for us as believers of Christ?

Muslims who hold true to this time of year stereotypically we consider as strong Muslims. If you have Muslim friends, they also might be taking part in this fast. Many people who have evangelized or reached out to Muslims say that it is hard to have even one Muslim come back to Christ in 10 years. But now a time has come where that is not true anymore. Many are encountering Christ through even dreams and their lives are being transformed. Muslims may seem “hard” on the outside. That may be what we perceive from their outer appearance. They may seem like they won’t even budge from their Islamic faith. How can they, such strong Muslims come to believe that Jesus is Christ?

Honestly speaking, Christians who are born into Christian families from birth live a lukewarm Christian life. They go to church every week, hang out with other Christians, attend worship services as a pattern. We many times make the mistake by beginning our testimony with “I’ve been a Christian since I was in my mother’s womb”. I believe they mean to say that they were born into a Christian family. Before they meet Christ personally, they don’t love Christ passionately nor do we know what it really means to be a follow of Christ. Just like that, Muslims have been Muslims since birth for the last 1000 years. But literally. They are born Muslim. It’s an ethnicity, a race for Muslims. There was no choice from the beginning, you are just a Muslim if your mom or dad is a Muslim. Therefore, if you get to directly talk and spend time with a Muslim, you will soon realize that they don’t have such passion for Allah and that their Islamic beliefs do not root so deeply. Islam is a culture, identity, political preference, and lifestyle for them. Not eternal life, salvation, passion or goal.

We can no longer make excuses and say that Muslims are hard to reach. Just like how God changed China, a communist nations to currently being the world’s largest church, nothing is impossible. There will undoubtedly be great revival is the Islamic nations in the coming years. If they will just come to Christ, they are ready warriors that will fight selflessly for Jesus. The persecution that comes with believing in Jesus readies them for this time of battle. Persecution and suffering come from every corner imaginable. But this persecution has fed them and grown them to hold on to Christ with their whole lives. Everything belongs to Christ. With that kind of passion and boldness, they are ready to fight for Christ with other brothers and sisters who have faced the same persecution.

It is now the task of the church to faithfully continue to pray, send and work together for further evangelization of the world. We must pray for our brothers and sisters who may be at the brink of coming to Christ or who may already be at work selflessly for Christ. Although it is not much, we must pray. As we pray, may our prayers shatter darkness, and more of these brothers and sisters of faith be sent out to reach the lost with the Truth of Jesus Christ! Amen.