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

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.