RAMADAN BLOG 4/4: A bundle of opportunities

Ramadan is a very significant time for Muslims, where they seek the blessings of God and fast during daylight hours over its 30 days. Over the next few weeks, Sarah* will be looking at various themes present in Ramadan and exploring Christian responses.

Ramadan is a bundle of opportunities, says my friend.

Motivated to fast

Besides fasting from dawn to dusk, Muslims are to abstain from coarse speech and anger. Instead, they must tell the truth, show discipline and be polite. It is so important to control your anger and to tell the truth. But what empowers and motivates Muslims?

I will atone for myself, my Muslim friend tells me. She is endeavouring to achieve her own salvation, and there’s plenty of opportunity for her to earn credit during Ramadan.

This friend is part of the Shia branch of Islam, and the Shia begin fasting a few days before the beginning of Ramadan. There is always a question about when exactly Ramadan begins, as it depends on the sighting of the new moon, which might only be visible for twenty minutes on the first night of the lunar month. But she feels safe, knowing that she won’t miss it.

A Christian response

Before you can give someone the good news of the gospel, you need to tell them the bad news. We cannot pull ourselves up on our own. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Dead means we cannot rise up and do something about our situation!

The apostle Paul spends a lot of time in his letter to the Romans telling them the bad news. No one is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, he tells his readers (Romans 3:10-11). But they can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

With God’s help and Christ’s example, we can strive to do good all year round. Good works do not save us, but are a fruitful demonstration of the truth that lies within.

Paul uses the word always twice in this brief passage. As Muslims try extra hard during Ramadan to atone for themselves and reserve a place in heaven, let’s pray that many will recognise the impossibility of peace with God by their own effort

Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. Always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

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