Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Before we get to practical ways of caring for our Muslim friends well, let me give a brief overview of what Ramadan is celebrating in the Islamic faith. Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel revealed the Quran, their holy book, to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar and is considered the most holy. It is a month of fasting for the Islamic community, where you daily abstain from food and drink, as well as other behaviors that are deemed "sinful," from sunrise to sunset. This year Ramadan begins April 24 and ends May 24.
Ramadan holds massive significance to the Islamic community. It is a time of focused prayer, spiritual growth, and community gathering. Through fasting, Muslims show their obedience and devotion to Allah, God, and is believed to be a special time in their faith to be forgiven of sins and make requests of Allah. Each night Muslims gather in their homes or, more communally, in their local Mosque to break fast together over a meal together and to pray ritual prayers specific to Ramadan.
For more in depth information on Ramadan click here: https://www.imb.org/2020/04/23/ramadan-christians-care/
As Christians, we can empathize with the grief of not being able to gather together to worship and celebrate an important religious holiday. We could not gather together to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, the foundation of our faith, and with that came feelings of sadness, loneliness, disappointment, etc. Our Muslim friends will be experiencing similar things over the next month, and we should be prepared to love and care for them.
1. REACH OUT TO THEM
This is very obvious, but in sending a text, you are showing that you care about them and recognize the importance of their faith to them. You will be opening up doors for religious conversation, while being a compassionate friend who sees their grief. For many, this may be their first time being away from home for Ramadan, and now they cannot even gather with their faith community. See if there is anything you can do to help them or pray for them in the midst of celebrating during the pandemic.
2. ASK SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Let your friend tell you about their religion, why Ramadan is important to them, and how this pandemic is affecting their ability to celebrate and fast. Even if you think you know an answer to a question, ask it to get their specific perspective. What is Ramadan? Why does the Quran tell you to fast? Who is Muhammad?
Ask them what they hope to achieve during the month of Ramadan. Do they have any spiritual goals for this time? What does fasting teach them? Ask them about the prayers they pray during Ramadan. What are they praying for? Do they believe Allah hears and answers all of their prayers? How is the Ramadan prayer different from other prayers they pray throughout the year?
All of this is establishing a comfortability in talking about religion, even though you believe different things. You are asking worldview questions that will help you better understand their perspectives and how to better share the gospel with them. Doors for further faith conversations will be easier to open in the future. I was having a conversation with a Muslim friend just a few days ago, asking many of the questions I listed above. This led to an opportunity to explain Good Friday and Easter: what exactly Christians are celebrating, and why it foundational to what we believe.
3. PRAY FOR THE ISLAMIC WORLD
According to researcher and missions strategist, Dr. David Garrison, there have been approximately 75 major movements to Christ among Muslims during the last three decades.
“We are in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in 14 centuries of Muslim-Christian interaction. More than 80% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred in the past two to three decades, a time period that coincides with the modern prayer movement for Muslims.” — D. Garrison (https://www.30daysprayer.com/why-pray-for-muslims/)
Ramadan is a time where Muslims are more spiritually engaged and aware. God uses this month in particular to send Muslims dreams and visions of Jesus, and many Islamic converts to Christianity have turned to Christ have because of a dream or vision. Let us be diligent to pray for our Muslim friends and the Islamic world throughout this month: that God would continue to bring the dead in false worship to life through Christ.
Pray for a different Muslim country everyday - https://joshuaproject.net/global/countries - is a great resource.
Pray Scripture over Muslims you know or the Islamic world as a whole -
Distance produces fear and skepticism, but proximity produces sympathy. If you do not have any Muslim friends to specifically reach out to and pray for this year, be intentional to befriend Muslims on campus next semester. Get to know them and their stories. Don't be afraid to talk about your faith, to share the gospel, or to invite them into Christian community (church, village, etc). Let us share the love of Christ abundantly and offer it freely to all.
"Then Peter began to speak to them: 'I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'" - Acts 10:24
SOME MORE RESOURCES:
Want to understand Islamic beliefs better and how they compare to Christianity? This is a GREAT book written by two brothers who grew up in a Muslim home and converted to Christianity. They walk the reader through Islamic doctrine, its implications, and compare to the truth of Christian doctrine. Really readable and engaging.
Want to read a conversion story of a Muslim coming to faith in Christ? These two books let you into the struggle of conversion and life as a Muslim. Very different stories of coming to Christ, but both are page-turners. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is my FAVORITE book that I've ever read (just saying).