For a lot of people, the next month is just another thirty days of the year. However, for many around the world, these thirty days constitute the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic Muslim calendar, a time devoted to increased prayer and fasting.
While Ramadan, for the Muslim world, is the holiest month of the year, it occurred to me that many outside of the Islamic faith don’t really understand what Ramadan is or how it may impact those who follow Jesus.
WHAT IS RAMADAN?
Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam which make up Muslim life. The five pillars are:
- The testimony of faith which proclaims that Allah is the one true God and Muhammad is his messenger
- Prayer 5 times a day
- Giving 2.5% of their income to the poor and to support their Islamic leaders
- Fasting (during Ramadan)
- Making the pilgrimage to Mecca once in their life if they are able
Ramadan is considered especially important as it allows for a time of deep personal worship.
From sun up until sun down during Ramadan, Muslims seek purity and holiness as they abstain from earthly pleasures such as food, water and smoking, and instead draw their attention to reading the Qur’an and offering the five daily prayers. To get more of a sense of what daily life is like during Ramadan in North Africa, where most of the population is Muslim, check out Ramadan: An Insider’s View.
WHY IS RAMADAN IMPORTANT TO ME?
So why do I, a Christian and Millennial, concern myself with Ramadan? Simply, because I love the people who celebrate it.
Ramadan is of the highest importance to them, so it’s important to me. I want to learn as much as possible about the holiest month of the Islamic calendar as it is a huge opportunity for the door of communication to be opened between myself and my Muslim friends and neighbors.
Affection and compassion for the Islamic faith and culture also presents the opportunity for me to understand the personal stories behind the people and neighbors that I love. I have the freedom to have conversations and to ask questions about the various aspects of Ramadan, including the last night, also known as the Night of Power. Muslims describe this night as being “better than a thousand months” as they are often times open to dreams and visions. Some even stay up all night in prayer.
It is my understanding of Ramadan and the Night of Power that creates the need in me to cry out to Jesus for my Muslim friends to come into a personal relationship with him and realize their need for him. For me, this prayer inspires faith, hope and love among our generation, across the whole world. Whether or not my Muslim friends around the world and in my own city ever come into a freeing and personal relationship with Jesus, I’ll always pay attention to Ramadan– because, I love the people who celebrate it.
Here are two great prayer guides to help you pray for Muslims all around the world during this Ramadan – Operation Mobilization's Guide to Ramadan Prayer and Searching For A Father: A Ramadan prayer guide by Frontiers.