It’s Ramadan

Islam is the second fastest growing faith in the world with over 1 1/2 billion people.  Last week Muslims in every nation began celebrating Ramadan.  Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and during those days Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, or have sexual relations between sunup and sundown.  They are also urged to read through the entire Qur’an.  Ramadan is a time to purge oneself of impurities, and to promote reflection and generosity.

It’s vital that Christians who love Muslims understand something about their faith.  This simple primer is by Zane Pratt.

Six Beliefs of Islam

“Islamic theology could be summarized as belief in [1] one God, [2] his prophets, [3] his books, [4] his angels, [5] his decrees, and [6] the final judgment. Islam teaches that humans are born spiritually neutral, perfectly capable of obeying God’s requirements completely, and that they remain this way even after they’ve personally sinned. The need of humanity, therefore, is not salvation but instruction; hence Islam has prophets, but no savior.”

Five Pillars of Islam

“These are composed of

  1. the confession of faith (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet”), 
  2. prayer (the ritual prayers said in Arabic five times a day while facing Mecca and performing the prescribed set of bowings, kneeling, and prostrations), 
  3. alms (taken as a tax in some officially Islamic countries),
  4. fasting (the lunar month of Ramadan, during which Muslim believers fast during daylight hours but can eat while it’s dark), and
  5. pilgrimage (the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim believer should make once in his or her lifetime).

Two Types of Muslims

“The two major denominations of Muslims are Sunni and Shi’a. Sunnis are the vast majority, at 85 percent of all Muslims. The split occurred in the first generation after Muhammad’s death and was based on a dispute over who should succeed him as leader of the Islamic community.”

During this spiritual highlight, ask God to reveal His Son to them.  If you happen to have a Muslim neighbor, classmate or co-worker, get to know him/her.  Take the time to ask questions, pray, and show tangible expressions of Christ’s love; make friends.  God loves that person very much.

A Jordanian resident of New Jersey who came to faith in Christ, admits, “It’s not easy to minister to Muslims.  They are good people who love and revere God.  I was one of them, and if it weren’t for a faithful Christian who loved me for three years, I wouldn’t have seen the light of salvation through Jesus Christ.”  Love for Jesus becomes love for others.

A plea here: If you are mad at rank-and-file Muslims because the popular voices of their faith advocate death for those who disagree or who change their faith, your wrath is misguided.  They are no different from others of various faiths–or no faith: Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God (2 Cor.4:4, NLT).  Instead of bristling when we see a hijab, maybe we could pray for that person and the family.  Especially during Ramadan.

(I highly recommend J.D. Greear’s book, Breaking Islam’s Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim; it’s a pleasant read and very understandable.)