Ramadan: Time for Christians to Pray for Muslims, Persecuted Believers

Jerry Dykstra | Open Doors USA | Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ramadan: Time for Christians to Pray for Muslims, Persecuted Believers

Why do Muslims observe the month of Ramadan?

And why should Christians care?

Ramadan celebrates the first revelation that the Prophet Mohammad received. For 30 days most Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. The purpose of the Ramadan season is to take Muslims away from their normal lifestyle and make them re-examine their life in the context of a higher ideal. Muslims believe experiencing hunger makes them more aware of the poor. And going through real but limited suffering – fasting – may prepare them for tougher ordeals ahead and draw them closer to Allah. Also, during Ramadan many Muslims increase their times of prayer and recitation of the Quran.

During Ramadan Muslims must abstain not only from food and drink, but also smoking and other restrictions during the daylight hours. The exceptions are for nursing or pregnant mothers, children under 12, the sick and those aged and frail.

Each Muslim people group has its own customs associated with Ramadan, which this year runs from July 9 to Aug. 7. In Central Asia, children may visit neighbors’ homes each evening and recite a poem. They are rewarded with a coin or a piece of candy.

The last 10 days of Ramadan are considered highly blessed, especially the 27th night which is  called the “Night of Prayer.” It is believed that on this night Mohammad received the first revelation of the Quran. For many Muslims, this period is marked by a heightened spiritual intensity and they may spend these nights praying and reciting the Quran. The Night of Prayer this year is Friday, Aug. 2.

The following is taken from a blog by a Christian leader in Egypt about his experience interacting with Muslims during Ramadan:

Ramadan brings a special cultural and religious atmosphere for Muslims in several ways. It’s a month of celebration of one of Islam’s most important pillars of belief. More food is consumed in this month than any other month of the year. From the time they break their fast each evening to the time they start the fast at dawn of the next day, some Muslims keep eating and drinking almost all night. This is called 'iftar.' The table must be rich with excessive amounts of food of a big variety, whenever affordable.

“Productivity, in general, is very minimal throughout this month, due to the fact that everyone is always tired and exhausted. Tempers are mostly hot, and driving home just before 'iftar' time is a real traffic nightmare.There are also many social gatherings of family and friends when the warm atmosphere of Middle Eastern social relationships are strongly felt.

“At the same time, the religious atmosphere among Muslims rises dramatically, more than any other month of the year. During Ramadan, Muslims usually read the Quran extensively, often very loudly in public places such as public transportation, at work and certainly at home. This is a holy month for Islam, so they are promised to gain more points from Allah when they do ‘good works’ like this, hoping that some of the bad things they have done during the past year will be erased.

“Many Muslims distribute free grocery packages, hold many street-side, free 'iftar' tables for passersby to sit down and eat if they are not able to reach home in time to break their fast in the evening. And of course, Ramadan is also a special month when Muslims want to try to win ‘infidels’ back to Islam; trying to convert their Christian neighbors, colleagues and friends to what they believe is the last and best religion.

“So this can cause a lot of tension among Egypt’s Christians – to remain respectful but firm against their Muslim acquaintances’ conversion efforts, without falling into heated arguments.

"My heart is really broken for the millions of Muslims here in Egypt and around the world, who are seeking peace with God this month, trying so hard to do good works in an effort to somehow earn His favor and forgiveness. Although God is so near to those truly calling on His name, it brings tears to my eyes that most of my countrymen do not know that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give them freely, through simple faith, that peace with God they so long to have.”

During the season of Ramadan we need to lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Islamic-dominated nations; strengthening them, empowering them, comforting them and encouraging them. Also, pray for Muslims. There are millions of Muslims who have never experienced real peace and joy in knowing a loving God and having Jesus as their Savior. Young people in many Muslim countries are feeling disenfranchised and looking for answers. We need to pray for them to change their hearts through the working of the Holy Spirit by means of satellite television, the Internet, dreams and visions.

Open Doors USA has launched a prayer campaign during Ramadan. Each day of Ramadan, Open Doors will urge Christians to pray in one of the names of Jesus while using scripture. Also, there will be prayer information about countries on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us), which records the worst persecutors of believers. Open Doors USA is offering a 30-day prayer and reference guide for use during Ramadan. The resource can be downloaded free of charge at www.opendoorsusa.org/ramadan.

Other organizations are also offering prayer resources for Ramadan. Some sites include www.WorldChristian.com and https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/CornerstoneUniversity_2/MNNGIVE.html.

Jerry Dykstra is media relations director for Open Doors USA, based in Santa Ana, Calif., the American arm of Open Doors International, a worldwide ministry supporting persecuted Christians since 1955.

Publication date: July 2, 2013