This month of Ramadan is very important to me as an ex-Muslim and I would like to share with you how I see Ramadan as a Christian. It breaks my heart when I see my own family fasting, praying and trying hard to win God’s favor. I wanted to weep when my family members were rejoicing and sending good wishes to each other at the sight of the New moon in the Whatsapp chat.
They were jubilant because this month they believe they will gain extra rewards. They were excited because every prayer they offer and every charity they give to will increase their rewards. In fact they believe if they die during fasting they will go straight to heaven, for the gates of heaven are open in this month.
Well, I was one of them few years ago. I rejoiced too. Now I mourn because I see the lie, I see the difference in my heart. Let me share a little bit of how I celebrated Ramadan. I was in 5th grade when I fasted for 30 days. I was full of pride and joy. Everyone praised me. My uncle gifted me a gold ring. I felt so accomplished. My family was very happy to have such a godly child. I was told that to be born as a Muslim was the greatest honor. As a family we would give so much to charity in this month. We would be so serious these 30 days of fasting. No TV, no fun, only prayers, extra prayers and extra Quran reading. Our family members would make it a point to recite the entire Quran in this month of Ramadan.
My grandma and my aunty would wake up at 3:30 A.M, pray a special prayer and start cooking a special meal for Suhar (food you eat before the sun rise). It would be a nutritious meal, fresh bread, yogurt, curry, eggs and tea. Then we would do a prayer and start our fast. We wouldn’t drink or eat till sunset. Then we would break our fast with dates and prayer. After that, we would have the best food. Some of the food would only be cooked during this month of the year. Lots of meat and nutritious food would be served for supper.
I was taught that we fast to remember the sufferings of the less fortunate. I still don’t understand why I was served with the best food. It was not only in my house. It is a norm, Muslims break the fast with the choicest food.
My favorite night was the 26th night of the fasting, ‘Laylatal Qader’, ‘Night of Destiny’. It is believed God Sent Gabriel to the prophet Mohamed and released the first verse of the Quran. We would stay awake and pray till we started our 27th fasting day. We would wear new clothes for the prayer. As a little girl I was so excited about that. We girls would gather together with the older ladies and do a special prayer.
We would ask forgiveness from Allah and ask forgiveness from each other. Our apologies to each other would be so generic, it would be like, “please forgive me for all the wrong I have done to you.”
Was there any conviction, in my heart while apologizing to each other? Honest answer is NO. It is even worse these days, now that people can download a message for forgiveness and just forward it to each other.
This is the most painful part, Muslims don’t understand sin. Nor did I, as a Muslim. I was never convicted about my thought life. Only my external deeds were counted as sin. I was a perfect person outside. But I was so horrible inside. Recently I discovered The Quran uses the adjective “holy” only 2 times while describing God. Maybe it is because God’s holiness is underplayed in the Quran, that sin is not taken seriously. I am thankful to God for giving us the Holy Spirit, who teaches us how holy our God is, and how much we need Jesus for our salvation.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, I was commanded to fast as a Muslim. Now as a Christian, I have no compulsion. I voluntarily fast to make myself weak and humble before God. I seek the face of God. I long to sit at the feet of Jesus. My pride and arrogance break when I fast and pray. I am so confident about my destiny, I feel so secure in Jesus’ love.
It is heart wrenching to see my family members and Muslim brothers and sisters doing everything they could without the assurance of where they will end up.
Even Muhammed was not sure about his destiny. In the Quran he writes:
“I am not something original among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner.” Surah 46:9
I pray that while they are seeking Allah in this month, they will end up seeing Jesus.
For he said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Contributing Author: Banu
Banu is an Asian-American wife and mother, and follower of Jesus from a Muslim background