A Time for Re-orientation: A Christian response to Ramadan

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Today is the first day of Ramadan. For the next 28 days (lunar calendar) Muslims around the world will fast from the early daylight until dusk. During the night Muslims will eat and drink and then resume the fast during the daylight. The purpose of this fast is to re-orient one’s life from worldly concerns to a focus (or re-focus) on Allah and his glory and sovereignty. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This month is used by Muslims for fasting and prayer (facing East) because it is the month when, according to Muslims, Muhammad received his first revelation of the Qur’an from Allah. So, Ramadan is a month to remember the glory and power of Allah and His Word to the world.

Muhammad, it should be remembered, first learned about the idea of an alternative “feast” and “fast” from Christian practice in 7th century Arabia. Lent, of course, is a 40 day period of fasting in the Church, but never included Sundays. Even during Lent, Christians feasted on Sunday. Sundays are not fast days in the church because Sunday is the day when Christ rose from the dead. The first day of the week marks the dawning of creation (let there be light), the dawning of new creation in the resurrection, and finally, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (inclusive Jewish counting of 50 days after Passover). May Ramadan remind us of our own need to pray and fast, and also to celebrate God’s sovereignty, glory and the gift not only of his written word, but the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

Make it a practice during Ramadan to include special prayers of grace and mercy for the over one billion Muslims around the world. Pray earnestly for them because they need to be truly re-oriented, not just physically facing the east, but re-oriented toward the greater East, i.e. Easter, the Risen Christ. And may we also be re-Eastered, i.e. re-oriented towards the great glory of our Risen Lord. May our faces reflect the true glory of the Risen Christ to a lost world.


  • Joseph White says:

    Thank you Dr. Tennent. I am in a Muslim country for the duration of this Ramadan and was just reflecting on appropriate behavior, attitude, and Christian response over the past weekend.

  • I’m currently taking Church History one, and we are in the middle of learning about the emergence of Islam. There are great lessons to be learned from that period of time. We Christians need to stay together and in peace with each other. Keeping our eyes and hearts focused in Jesus Christ will not only keep us united but also it will help the Kingdom of God in general. Ramadan will make the research more interesting. Well, I better go and get some walnuts. Blessings.

  • Meghan Smith says:

    Dr. Tennent,

    Thanks for this reminder. Our church plant in SC is doing a month of prayer and fasting along with Ramadan to pray for Muslims around the world. It is our goal that we will draw closer to our Lord and pray that he will begin a new harvest among Muslim people. Thank you for all that taught me at GCTS! Derrick and I miss you.

  • Dr. Tennent,

    I have recently listened to your seminary lectures on Biblical Training while you were a professor at Gordon Conwell concerning Islam and Hinduism, since my wife and I are about to go to India to share the good news of our Savior Jesus Christ. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your approach to engaging peoples of different cultures, and am now interested in reading some of your books. I appreciate your love for Jesus, and the authority of His written word. I desire to have those same loves as I figure out what it looks like to share the gospel with those in India. I totally understand that you are probably a very busy man, but I would love to talk more with you about your experiences in India. I would love your perspective on what is happening there. I figured that some things may have changed since you gave those lectures in the 2000s, haha. Either way, thank you for your blessing to the body of Christ, and I pray that His presence continues to be manifested in your ministries for His name’s sake.