To a Muslim, Ramadan is the “best of all months,” a time of increased spiritual awareness and expectancy that they will receive blessings from God.
Those of us who love Muslims and yearn to see them come to know Jesus will find this time of heightened spirituality to be an incredible opportunity. Because many are earnestly seeking God, they may be more open to spiritual conversation, or even more sensitive to Jesus revealing Himself through dreams or other supernatural means.
This year, Ramadan spans May 15 to June 14. Here are four ways we can make the most of the time, loving our Muslim friends during a significant time in their year, and hopefully pointing them to Christ.
The increase in religious devotion and sensitivity makes Ramadan a vital season for Christians to pray for their Muslim friends. Millions of Christians use the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World guide. In addition to the requests presented in the guide, ask God to:
Appear to Muslims in dreams and visions
Soften their hearts to Christ during their time of spiritual sensitivity
Open their eyes to see the spiritual bankruptcy of seeking to earn God’s favor through ritual
Reveal how Christ’s righteousness, given by grace, is what their hearts truly long for
You can also ask your Muslim friends how you can pray for them during Ramadan. They’ll likely be honored by your understanding of their faith, and the gesture may lead to deeper conversation.
2) Demonstrate Interest
Show that you’re interested in something deeply important to them. Ask questions about their Ramadan traditions, why they fast, what blessings they are hoping to receive during Ramadan or how they hope to hear from God. Be curious, and focus more on your friend’s experience (how are they hearing from God, are they experiencing more peace, etc.) than on facts about Islam or Ramadan.
3) Demonstrate Understanding
While asking questions shows interest, demonstrating a basic understanding of Islam and Ramadan develops respect and rapport.
With that in mind, here’s a short “Ramadan primer:”
Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is when Muslims believe Muhammad began to receive the Qur’an by revelation.
Adult Muslims are obligated to fast from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the 30 days of Ramadan. This fast, or saum, stands as the third of the five pillars of Islam--the central rituals Muslims are expected to perform out of obedience to Allah.
It’s considered as much a feast as a fast. Iftar (breaking the fast) meals just after sundown are often sumptuous, lengthy communal feasts.
Many Muslims pray more frequently, recite or read the Qur’an, and seek to perform more good deeds and give more to charity. Ramadan is seen as a multiplier of the spiritual rewards these acts earn.
In addition to fasting, during daytime Muslims are expected to abstain from sexual relations and smoking, and to pursue greater holiness in order gain greater blessing.
The “Night of Power” (Laylat al-Qadr), this year on June 10, is the holiest night on the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe this was the night Allah gave Muhammad the first part of the Qur’an. Many will remain awake through the night, seeking God for forgiveness of sins and blessings on the coming year.
The holiday Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. Special prayers, exchanging of gifts, and feasting to mark the end of the long fast create a festive atmosphere.
As you engage in conversation about Ramadan, it will be natural to share that Christians also fast, pray, and engage in specific seasons of seeking God more fervently (like Advent or Lent). And because there is such an emphasis on forgiveness, spiritual blessing, and closeness to God, we can build a natural bridge to how Jesus fulfills that for us in ways that we could never attain by our own efforts. Sharing this with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) could lead to rich conversation and softness of heart toward Christ.
4) Reach Out with Kindness
Little gestures can go a long way. As you interact with Muslims during this time, wish them “Ramadan Mubarak”--a common greeting meaning “blessed Ramadan.” Let them know you’re praying for God to draw near to them, and invite them to your home to share some food after sunset. Or, just before sunset, offer a small container of dates--the traditional food first eaten to break the daily fast.
As you build relationships, you may find yourself being invited to an iftar meal. This is a wonderful opportunity for immersion into your friend’s culture, and will likely lead to great conversation.
Patrick, who has been befriending Muslims for years, points to Ramadan as a time when his friendships grow, and when many of his friends have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.
“I often share meals, ask them about traditions, how they ‘hear’ from God,” he says. “That opens up more conversations about Christ, and I’m able to share with them how God speaks to us and how Jesus came to bring us into right relationship with God.”
Our hope is that this Ramadan you can enjoy the same experience!