Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ramadan Observations

“Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.” Matthew 4:1

 Any Christian woman ministering among Muslim women will observe that Ramadan disrupts normal routine and often puts a hold on our relationships with them. The month changes their eating and bed times, increases cooking time, more visiting within their community and to the mosque, more food shopping, more phoning to family in their homelands which brings more homesickness, and diligent praying and reading of the Qur’an are stepped up. Occasionally  Muslims will tell me they will see me after Ramadan. There are many reasons given: “I am dieting. I am tired. I am busy.” In earlier years I worried about what would happen to such friendships faithfully cultivated throughout the year. But, thank God that because of His sustaining power, I have observed most relationships do resume afterwards which is quite a miracle! So...I can relax and not fret. 

You never know what to expect when it comes to Ramadan. Even though I am a Christian I have been invited for evening iftar meals because my friend has cooked an enormous feast and wants to invite people to eat it. Then there are Muslim friends whom I expect are fasting but are not and they invite me for a meal over noon hour. A Saudi lady did not want me to visit inside her home during Ramadan but I could visit her outside on her front steps. The Holy Spirit is not limited to a closed front door. We had some significant conversations on those steps. “I love Ramadan”, she exclaimed to me. “Why, Sahar?” I probed. “Because Satan retreats from us during Ramadan,” she replied in obvious relief. At least she hoped so. I think of Jesus fasting 40 days and nights and Satan came to Him big time tempting and attacking Him but Jesus won the victory over him. After fasting Satan retreated for a time – not during fasting. Then there was Ahlam who would bring food over to my house rather than invite me into her house to eat. Some of my conservative practicing friends are pregnant. They are not required by Islamic law to fast but they do anyhow. I have observed that there are many things I can't predict about Ramadan and Muslims.  I wait in expectation to see how the Spirit will work in my friends' lives. 

We often hear of the Night of Power during Ramadan when Muslims hope and believe Allah will hear and respond to  their deepest desires. Some have special dreams that auspicious night. Personally I have only heard one Muslim friend share a special dream she had on the Night of Power. She could not forget her dream even after ten years. She saw three trees. Two trees were commanded to bow down to the third tree. She always wondered what it meant. I shared with her about the three trees(crosses) on Calvary and how every knee will bow down to Jesus who was hung on one of those three trees for the forgiveness of our sins. I have observed, however, that Muslims may have a dream of Isa al Masih any time of the year. The Spirit is not limited to one night or to the month of Ramadan. That gives me hope!

“Dear Father in heaven, please speak to my beloved Muslim friends this Ramadan. In Jesus’ name, Amen”.