Ramadan—A Christian Perspective
Like all religious duties, Ramadan is a gift from God. It serves to bring us closer to God, to fulfill his commandments and to be appreciative of Him. This is how I understand Ramadan today, but it was not how I understood it before Submission. Earlier, Ramadan to me was the same as ‘Lent’ (a forty-day liturgical season initiating the most sacred part of the Christian year)—fast, be somber and pray extra.
Having been born into a Christian home, my knowledge about Ramadan was limited to what I saw of “Muslim neighbors”. I knew that they had very strict rules about entertainment, had several do’s and don’ts and prayed a lot during Ramadan. That is how I perceived Ramadan. I was not aware of the difference between cultural traditions and religious duties. However, embracing Submission has helped me understand the difference between the two. Not watching movies/TV, not going to the ball game, wearing extra conservative clothing, reciting Quran through the night (in Tarawee) and ending the fast with dates are not religious requirements—these are practices that traditional Muslims are predisposed to.
The days preceding my first Ramadan were very stressful. I was afraid of fasting considering that I had never fasted a day in my life before, but to my surprise it came to me with not much effort (by God’s Grace). Yes, the initial few fasts were not easy, because of the new food timings. My body was used to the intake of food at regular intervals, but a few days into fasting and the body immediately adjusted to the new system, i.e., eating before dawn and after sunset. [Quran 2:286] GOD never burdens a soul beyond its means: to its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits… God does not want any hardship for us, He has created us and is well aware of what we can and can’t do. So while it appears
daunting on the face of it, it really isn’t difficult. Two to three days into fasting and the body immediately adjusts to the new system.
Before Submission I was not aware that fasting was a practice that was being followed from the time of Abraham.
[2:183] O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. Learning this gave me great comfort and reassurance that I was not abandoning any Biblical commandments; in fact I was now truly following what Jesus wanted me to and in the manner prescribed by God. Bible Matthew 6:16-17 “Moreover when you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face.
The first year of Submission was trying, what with new people, new worship practices and new systems to follow. God reassured me through different signs that I was on the right path, that I was indeed blessed to be able to fulfill His commandment. [2:185] Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation. Seeking continuous support from God through meditation, and the strong support and love of the community helped me overcome my initial fear and biases.
Over the years I have come to appreciate God’s system of fasting. It makes me feel lighter and healthier. [7:31] ... And eat and drink moderately. Surely, He does not love the gluttons. Not only does
fasting have proven health benefits, but it also helps us keep God’s commandment. Ramadan provides us with an opportunity to be more aware of God through regular Quran studies during the last ten nights and praise and glorification during the ‘Night of destiny’. [Quran 18:28] You shall force yourself to be with those who worship their Lord day and night, seeking Him alone. Do not turn your eyes away from them, seeking the vanities of this world. Nor shall you obey one whose heart we rendered oblivious to our message; one who pursues his own desires, and whose priorities are confused. Submission allows for a personal experience through one on one dialogue with God. In addition, being with submitters who have no inhibitions talking about God is a great blessing, one I never had as a Christian.
My family still does not understand how I can fast for the entire month of Ramadan, as they perceive fasting to be a great hardship. For me it is not intimidating anymore, as I know that I am now following God’s commandment. [2:183] O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. So while fasting may appear unnerving on the face of it, the fear and doubts are nothing but Satan’s ploy to stop us from following God’s commandments. [3:175] It is the devil's system to instill fear into his subjects. Do not fear them and fear Me instead, if you are believers. God guides each of us through our journey that we may be able to make it to the Paradise that is promised for those who follow His instructions. And fasting is a step in that direction.
God willing for 2013
July 9 First day of Ramadan
August 6 Last day of Ramadan
(most of the Americas)
July 9 First day of Ramadan
August 7 Last day of Ramadan
(most of Africa, Asia, Europe)
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