During Ramadan, life changes more drastically here. Outwardly, cousins fast from sunrise to sunset. Everyone else, are to respect that commitment, even when it is not expected. Inwardly, it is common for cousins to believe Christians will try to tempt them to break their fast, even if it is an unintentional sip of water. Displays that lack restraint can perpetuate the perception of neglect and disregard for cousins beliefs, increasing a divide, rather than bridging it. So, why then do cousins fast?
On the Metro, it is now more common to see nearly every passenger reading their Quran on their phone. No one will be eating and women make extra effort to be covered. During the 29-30 days of Ramadan, it is the belief that if traditions are followed well, their sins will be forgiven for one year until the next Ramadan.
An orthodox Muslim, with an ash mark on his forehead, was boarding the metro when he noticed a young woman listening to music with long, large black hair. A face of disgust came across his face; her hair was not covered. What happened next confused me. He raised his palm to his brow, bow faced, and jaunted to the end of the car. He sat with his head in his hands like he had a headache, physically distraught. Later that night, I shared what I saw and my local friend managed to tell me that the woman caused that man to have lustful thoughts (just as someone sipping water can be viewed as tempting someone else). Because there are higher stakes during Ramadan, trespasses are taken more seriously. On the Metro, this was one of those trespasses. It was also just the first of thirty days for that man.
Ramadan is difficult. Here is where my heart grows heavy for these people. What would it look like if they learned that rather than tempting them to break fast, Christians were actually praying they would complete it and encourage them to keep it? Because Jesus is in the Quran, Ramadan is also a period of time more questions are asked. Why am I fasting? Why would a Christian care I succeed? Who is Jesus?
There is this more weight cousins feel during Ramadan. If they can’t do good deeds, they can’t boast in their works. If they are not seen as honorable, they will live in shame because of their sin. If they do not succeed, their sins won’t be forgiven. The worst part? Even if they do succeed, many don’t even trust that they are forgiven. Allah is a different god, a capricious god. Some cousins say even if they were in heaven, they would keep one foot on earth, because they couldn’t trust what Allah would do next.
This burden is heavy and it is my hope that Jesus may answer their questions. Because the Quran says Jesus was the only one who lived a sinless life, pray they can rather grow to trust Christ with their life. That God sent His son so He could be a sacrifice for all of our sins if we only believe in our hearts and proclaim Him as God. He has removed the burden and lifted the weight from us, for us. Jesus died for cousins too and I pray they can turn around and see Jesus for who He truly is and what He has already done for them. If a question remains from Christ’s sacrifice, it is probably, why does He love us? It’s true, we don’t deserve it, but the Bible tells us He loves us and goes into great depth about His life. His Word is life.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Yours in Christ.
Reposted: Original post on May 15, 2018.