Loving Our Neighbour

An Excuse To Party!

The seventh of a series of articles examining how we can respond to Muslims in the UK

Everyone loves a party! Even God, who invites us to His wedding feast!

There is something about celebrating together, with special food for the occasion, which appeals to the whole human race. Maybe it’s tarnished, but it’s still a recognisable part of being made in God’s image. And celebrations can be a great way to break down barriers and take relationships deeper.

Islam has several major festivals. Their dates vary according to the lunar calendar, so they get earlier by about 10 days each year. This year, Ramadan runs from around 11 August to 9 September, with Eid al-Fittr (the feast at the end) falling on 10 September. Eid al-Addha should be on 16 November. This is the feast remembering Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son; in many Muslim countries, a lamb will be ritually slaughtered by each family.

In most Muslim cultures, it is a greater honour to visit your friends than to invite them to your own house. And in the month of Ramadan, there is a tradition of inviting friends to come and break the fast with you in the evenings. Ask your friends how they break the fast. What do they eat? They may well invite you to come and see – if they do, go! Or they may bring you a plateful of sweet biscuits.

And next comes Christmas! Having visited them, what could be more natural than to invite them to your home? Have a few Christian friends round at the same time and make it a party! Don’t serve alcohol and make sure any meat – including fat (no lard) used in baking – is halal. Or at least make it clear when something is not halal.

Celebrating the birth of Christ resonates with Muslims – even those who have had little contact with Christians – since they have a story of his birth in the Qur’an. Why not include a Bible reading about Jesus’ birth as part of the evening, stressing that this was a holy birth. (Perhaps Matthew 1:18-25.) And be prepared to answer their questions – maybe even to ask one or two, such as, ‘Why was Jesus born to Mary, a virgin?’

Written by AWM UK’s former Ministry Team Co-ordinator and edited, with permission, for the website.

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