A Challenge to Christians During Ramadan

Roxbury Mosque

I am on the mailing list of a large mosque in the Roxbury area of Boston. While Egypt’s minarets give us a journey through history and Turkey boasts Ottoman style mosques, the mosque in Roxbury is modern. It sits across from Roxbury Community College, its dome and minaret smaller than those in the Muslim world. I’ve been told that there were protests when the mosque opened.

Being able to express and live out our truth claims in freedom is a gift. A gift that I’d love everybody to have.

And because of this I’m glad that there is a mosque in Boston. I’m glad that my Muslim friends and acquaintances have a place to worship. When I lived in both Pakistan and Cairo I was grateful for a space where I could worship; grateful for the presence of churches in a Muslim country. These churches formed a good part of our community.  And controversial as this may seem to some, I want this for my Muslim friends. In a country that claims freedom of religion, they should have a place to worship.

Yesterday began the month of Ramadan for Muslims. I’ve written in the past about Ramadan – about loving neighbors more than sheep, about my outsider perspective. Once again, I find it a good time to bring attention to the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, who in one way or another will be celebrating the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month long period of fasting. It is intended to be a time of spiritual discipline, praying, and generosity. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, liquids, sex, and cigarette from the from sun up to sun down. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and the month of Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the year.

There are some good articles that you can read to help understand more about the month of Ramadan, and I have linked them at the end of this article, but today I want to issue a challenge to fellow Christians, those who hold to my faith tradition.

How many of us feel frustration when our faith is misunderstood, when myths abound, when others reject us because they disagree with what we believe?

But being rejected for our faith and truth claims is not fun. It’s lonely. It’s defeating. It’s discouraging. We want to scream when we hear misconceptions about Christianity and shout “No – that’s not the way it is! If we could just have a conversation….”. We long to engage with people about our faith because it’s important, because it’s foundational to who we are and how we live. Engaging with people over their beliefs does not mean we are watering down our own. How do so many come to believe that relationships, friendships and listening to others, means that we will fall down some slippery slope of forsaking our truth claims; of being false to that which we believe?

So as the month of Ramadan comes around, we have an opportunity to engage with Muslims.  We have a chance to live out what we want others to live at Christmas and Pascha or Easter.

With this in mind, I would challenge you to engage with Muslims. Get to know someone who is a Muslim.  Ask them about Ramadan and what it means to them. Ask them about the traditions that surround Ramadan. Just as Christians are not monolithic, so it is with Muslims, and traditions change according to country and family. Wish Muslims at your work place “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak.” Or better still, ask them – ask them what to say. We have the choice to engage with others and learn about what they believe. Are you willing to engage people during Ramadan?

We live in a world that quickly rejects based on appearance, religion, actions and more. How do we learn to live in truth to what we believe – which means that at some point we will disagree – and yet not be afraid to engage?  How can we remember the importance of friendships and relationships in living out our faith?  

I ask myself this question all the time – how about you? 

Aticles on Ramadan:

*An earlier edition of the post omitted the important detail of Muslims fasting only during the daylight hours. The piece has been corrected to reflect that fact. 

 

8 thoughts on “A Challenge to Christians During Ramadan

    1. You’re absolutely right- in my haste, I forgot to say during the day. I apologize. I wonder if you could let me know what else is misleading and naive, because it’s important to me that I’m careful in how I write- so that would be helpful. Thank you.

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  1. Thank you for the gentle reminder. There are many people of many different ethnicities, cultures and faiths who live in and around Morton Grove, the Chicago suburb where I work. A bustling Muslim Community Center and K-8th grade academy are located there, too. Many opportunities to talk with Muslim friends.

    I didn’t have a chance to tell you, since I was chief organizer and coordinator. We celebrated the 1st Morton Grove Community Peace Vigil for Hope and Harmony last Wednesday, June 1st. A wonderful opportunity for neighbors to come together to celebrate our diversity and continue the conversation of peace. Here is a blog post: PEACE: Morton Grove Community Peace Vigil #matterofprayer #PursuePEACE http://wp.me/p43g3i-DX

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  2. I’m taking you up on this one, Marilyn and praying daily for those fasting. In the North of Scotland the fast lasts 19 hours!!

    About a month ago as I walked in the rain to “Creative Writing” I saw a beautiful necklace. Its wearer and I were both under umbrellas. I spoke to the necklace and made a new friend. Her husband is a Doctor in our local hospital: her sister is an obstetrician in Mosul!

    The wonderful thing is that they are buying the house, at the end of a little path that goes past my bungalow and will move in in September!! I have since seen her and spoken to her twice more, but our paths did not cross today.

    Thank you for the post.

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  3. Wonderful post! I heard Broadway and film star Mandy Patinkin (a memorable character in one of our family’s favorite films, The Princess Bride) speak recently about his trip to volunteer at Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. He said that he made the trip for his own soul. And then he said that he is convinced the way to increased global peace is through conversation . . . conversation that helps each of us better understand others who are different. Conversation, and sharing stories, can be so healing! Thanks for what you wrote here . . . and may these words inspire healing conversations.

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