The Word on the Week

Observing Ramadan

We are 9 days into Ramadan and my Jordanian barber reckoned he was over the worst part. The first 3 days were, in his view, the hardest. The long hours of daylight that come with the mid-summer Ramadan (it’s a movable fast) made each day a struggle and that hour before sunset when the smells of cooking filled the air added to the agony!

Eating and drinking are banned from sunrise to sunset and, for those who can bear it, swallowing saliva is not permitted. As if this was not hardship enough we are heading into a heatwave! So spare a thought for the Muslim neighbour over the next 3 weeks.

The Islamic State has been particularly busy this week. Presumably the work of Jihad in their eyes is nearer Allah’s heart than observing Ramadan.

Perhaps they manage to put the two together as they launched attacks in France, Tunisia, Somalia and Kuwait yesterday. In the case of the latter a Shia Mosque packed for Friday prayers was the suicide bomber’s target. Like the other attacks it was chosen to create maximum divisions between the different communities.

Meanwhile there was no letup in their normal battles in Syria where this week’s offensives were against Kobane which had been liberated by Kurdish fighters in January and directly against government forces in Hassakeh.

Their use of the social media and Utube has introduces a new dimension to the conflict enabling Islamic State to win supporters globally and gain new recruits, estimated at the rate of 1,000 per month.

Perhaps there will be a change as we approach the last 10 days of Ramadan. These include “The Night of Power” although which night it falls on is a matter of dispute. The favoured nights are the odd days i.e. 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29th of the month.

Being a religion where merit has to be accumulated, praying through the Night of Prayer is the one to go for. It is reckoned to equal praying for 1,000 months – 83 years – in other words a lifetime.

Whilst it is easy to see the contradictions in Muslim behaviour I don’t know of any Christians who have prayer through the night!

I do know of many who have prayed and are praying for their Muslim friends to come to faith in Christ. God has answered these prayers many times. There are accounts of Muslims receiving dreams and visions of the risen Jesus coming to them in the night. This has led them to seek out Jesus for themselves. Ramadan seems to be a particularly fruitful time for this to happen.

My Jordanian barber’s longing was currently towards his fiancée back home and his marriage next year. This is as good an illustration you can get of putting your faith in Christ. In both marriage and conversion you commit yourself 100% to another in a lifelong relationship, covenanting to serve the other faithfully in the bonds of love till parted in death. Which is where the illustration breaks down as death opens the door into Christ’s neared presence forever. Trust Him.