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Understanding Ramadan

Understanding Ramadan

Ramadan begins today, and I am embarrassed that I don’t know more about it – especially since I lived in Saudi Arabia for a number of years and saw Ramadan up close and personal. As a kid, Ramadan simply signaled the time when the public drinking fountains were turned off and we were told as Westerners not to eat outside; camp security would even patrol making sure we weren’t breaking the rules. As an adult, I am sad that I didn’t use my time in Saudi to understand my Muslim friends’ commitment to their faith.

Some things I didn’t know:

  • Ramadan is more than fasting, it’s a time of spiritual reflection and abstaining from bad habits, including lying, swearing, and gossiping. Saeed Saeed writes “The fast is not simply about denying your body food and water, it also involves arguably the more taxing challenge of avoiding ill speech, arguments, loss of temper and malicious behavior. The whole point of the fast is to demonstrate submission to God and keep the mind focused on a spiritual plane.”
  • Despite the self-denial, Ramadan is also a time of celebration and joy, to be spent with loved ones.
  • Lailat ul Qadr,  The Night of Power, is the holiest night in the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that on this night, the Quran was sent down from the heaven to the Earth and that praying on this day is better than a thousand months of worship.
  • During Ramadan, Muslims attempt to recite as much of the Qur’an as they can. Mosques often recite one thirtieth of the Qur’an each night.
  • Even though fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, there are exceptions for children, adults who are ill, elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating or traveling. If they can, Muslims may choose to either make up the fast at a later date or pay fidiya (feeding one person in need for each day they have missed fasting).

As a Christian, I hope that I can be sensitive to my Muslim brothers and sisters and considerate of their dedication to their faith. Wishing you all the blessings of the holy month!

Information for this piece came from The Huffington Post

 

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Paul Woodrum

Jews have the concept of the 'righteous' gentile. Maybe Christians need something like the concept of the 'righteous Muslim.' That way we can keep our understanding that only in Jesus we humans "might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God's kingdom,' without confusing the god Christians worship with the god worshipped by Muslims.

Saying Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship a god that is one, as distinguished from pagan worship of many gods, does not mean we all worship the same one god. I doubt Muslims will ever agree that Jesus is God who, by his own act 'received human nature from the Virgin Mary.'

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David Allen

It isn't all that different in my mind as when St Paul came along and told the Athenians that their altar to the Unknown God was to the same god whom he worshiped.

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LGMarshall

In Arabic, Ramadan mean's 'scorching heat', or 'sunbaked sand'.
With the idea of scorching sins with good deeds.

Before Mohammad became a prophet for Islam, he followed all the doctrines, rites & rituals of the pagan groups in Mecca, he was identified as a Sabian, moon worshipper. Ramadan was one of those rituals. Basically, just switching day activities to night time, and vice versa.

Mohammad (570-632 AD), a pious man in Mecca, gained a following of a small group of seekers. In 10 years, Mohammad converted about 150 people to his new religion. (averaging 12 per year). When Mohammad moved to Medina he became a Politician and an Army General. In the next 10 years, there were 100,000 converts to Islam. (averaging 10,000 per year). Mohammad's 'success' was due to politics & warfare, not religion. Mohammad averaged acts of violence every 6 weeks. When he died, all Arabs were 'Muslim'.

There are (3) Holy Books for Muslims. The Hadith (accounts of Mohammad's lifestyle rules), The Sira (Mohammad's biography), and The Koran (message from allah via an angel. ) Muslims value the Hadith, and Sira, above the Koran. Only 14% of their religion/beliefs/practices is from The Koran, the other 86% is straight from Hadith & Sira.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims rise early before dawn eat a lavish breakfast, & during the day, they are to perform good deeds, abstain from food & drink, sex, and all 'bad habits.' At sunset, they break their fast and are free to resume eating, drinking, etc. They attend elaborate Iftar (feast) parties, then attend Mosque.

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Susan Weikel Morrison

More on monotheism, LG: So you believe that the god "of the Bible" is different than the god of Islam? So there are two or more gods, depending on the belief of their followers? Or the god of Islam is a false god and only your version is the one true God? And you know this how? The story of the Blind Men and the Elephant is a useful metaphor here.

Furthermore, there are many Gods presented in the Bible as a whole, starting with the standard storm god/king of the gods of ancient Hebrews, refined by prophets into the solo God of Israel, though other peoples had their own gods (of lesser power), to some musings on monotheism, and finally the New Testament God of Jesus and Paul that was the God of all.

And then you seem to assert that eternal salvation through this God can only be accessed through faith in Christ the King, though the human Jesus never really referenced himself as thus. And, apparently, other monotheists, including Jews, who do not accept the concept of Christ the King, are doomed to not be saved?

I know there are plenty of Biblical passages that support your point of view just as there are many passages in the Koran that support what ISIS is doing. As for me, reading every "jot and tittle" as absolute truth too rigid and not what Jesus taught. So I'm going to stick with the two Great Commandments.

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David Allen

My Muslim neighbors state that the pre-dawn meal is actually a simple meal, the opposite of the Iftar, where they concentrate nutritionally on stocking up on fluids and carbs to sustain them during the day of fasting and to ward off headaches. It is also a quiet time for prayer and reading. Many Muslims read the entire Quran during Ramadan.

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Shane Collins

As we're called to love, with the love of God, we see from the Holy Scripture that perfect love drives out fear. Our's would not be perfect yet, but as followers of the one true God, what is there to fear? Our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but spiritual forces of evil, in which case, prayers are all we have that would be truly effective anyway.

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Thom Forde

I have no expectation of their prayers, nor do I desire them. I am called to pray for them and for their conversion.

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Susan Weikel Morrison

If you are a true monotheist, then you must believe that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. are praying to the same God. So why would you not welcome their prayer on your behalf?

I can think of more important things to pray for than the conversion of Muslims to Christianity, especially considering the belief of fundamentalist Muslims that families are required to execute members who convert away from Islam.

I heard this in private from a Muslim who, indeed, wished to better explore other religious options but wasn't willing to die for it. I suggested that he stick with Islam and attend the most liberal mosque he could find while prayerfully exploring expanded religious experiences in secret. Later, I researched the concept online. Indeed, it's in the Koran just as some pretty nasty mandates are in the Bible.

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LGMarshall

Susan, the way to find out if it's the 'same G(g)od is to compare Allah's attributes & teachings with the attributes & teachings of the God in the Bible. [Are the promises the same? Is Salvation the same? Is Heaven/Hell the same? ]

No. They are not the same. Allah demands works for which any reward is uncertain, God of Bible invites one to faith through His Son, and guarantees an inheritance.

Every Muslim has a decision to make. Live now, but suffer for eternity, or die now, and live forever with Jesus.

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Ann Fontaine

Good thing you are not in charge of that decision Leslie.

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Shane Collins

I might have miss-understood your sentiment, but I seems that prayers ought not be a means of bargain or trade. Our prayers for them should be out of the hope that they would know Christ and find Him in their pursuit of God. If I only pray for those who pray for me, then I only pray for Christians and I have lost sight of the mission of Christ.

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