To some persons, it might be funny for a Christian to ask “Should Christians Fast during Ramadan?” but this an honest question worthy to be given a thought.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the time of the year Muslims all over the world observe some self-restraints from ‘worldly pleasures’ and focus their minds on prayers as a way to avoid the distractions of foods and drinks, this is usually for a period of 30 days. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, the remaining 4 pillars are the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. At the time of the year Muslims taqwa – awareness of ‘God’—is cultivated in many ways during Ramadan. Including:
- Fasting. When the thought of food, drink, sex or any worldly pleasurable thing comes to mind, Muslims are instructed to think on ‘God’ and to meditate on their responsibility towards him.
- Giving alms to the poor especially with the funds that would have been spent on foods and drinks on a normal day. Some Muslims provide meals after the daily fasting for a community of fellow Muslims.
How do Muslims Fast?
- In Nigeria, Muslims wake up as 4.0am to eat what is called ‘suhoor’ in preparation for the fast.
- A single sip of water can make the fast invalid.
- They break the fast at about 7.o0pm after prayer.
- Spouses must abstain from sex during fast. Every one must desist from rage, cursing, fighting or gossiping.
- They must observe the 5 daily prayers with more consciousness of ‘God.’
Should Christians Fast during Ramadan?
In Christianity, fasting has a different meaning and purpose. We do not have particular times we must fast. Although the lent period before Easter is dedicated to fasting, it is just a time some Christians agree to fast. It is not a doctrine or a tenet, unlike the Muslim’s fasting. If a Christian decides to pray and fast in separation to God for thirty days coinciding with the Muslim’s fasting period, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. A Christian may also decide to fast during any of those 30 days when Muslims are fasting.
The Christian is not fasting because Muslims are fasting or in accordance with their taqwa but as a submission to God, a time of deep fellowship with God and high sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Thereby, accessing the realms of the Spirit, making changes in the physical world easy and accelerated. Fasting for Christians means:
- Separation to God, avoiding any form of distraction.
- Abstinence from anything that could hamper your concentration in fellowshipping with God. This could be abstinence from Food, Movie, talking too much, sex or any other thing that gets your focus. Abstinence from food is usually the benchmark because it helps to weaken the body and therefore lessens the possibility of physical activities. Sometimes the abstinence from food is partial, just some particular foods are not eaten, but the bottom line is there is a denial of pleasure and the body does not get everything it wants.
- Praying more and studying the scriptures
- Higher sensitivity, facilitating clearer communication with God.
- Ministering to God and getting strengthened in the Spirit.
Christians should be tolerant of Muslims during their fast. We should render any form of help they require to. We must first remember that they are first human beings and they, therefore, should be loved just like God loves the world and sent his only begotten Son. Muslims are our friends and our neighbours Jesus enjoins us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31, Matthew 22:34-40). This is the time to show love the more and pray for them more.
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