Why is a Christian Fasting for Ramadan?
I got up at 4:30 this morning for sahūr. I don't think I'd ever heard the word before this week, but sahūr is the predawn meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan, a month-long, sunrise-to-sunset fast. But 4:30? I know. When I downloaded a local Ramadan calendar and saw the meal-times, it almost dissuaded me entirely from participating. But the prompting to take part, including getting up at that unholy hour, felt holy. So here I am.
Why am I, a believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, participating in a month-long Muslim fast?
I'm not entirely sure.
It started when I took part in a worldwide, Good Friday fast for relief from CoVid-19 that was called by the president of my Church. Along with more than 1/2 million others, I participated in a FaceBook group to share personal stories about that fast and I was touched to see that we were being joined, not only by other Christians, but by Buddhists, Muslims and others as well. The brotherhood we felt as we fasted and prayed together was life-changing for many. And then, one of the Muslim participants mentioned that Ramadan was coming up at the end of the month. Would any of us like to participate in that as well? Some part of me that is disconnected from my sense of the practical leaped at it. I signed up.
There's no question that the world needs all the fasting and prayer it can get right now. I want to do my part. Besides, I'm doing a writing project that's important to me and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. Fasting will help. Those are all good reasons.
But there's something more that's driving me. It's a call to unity. I'm troubled by the deep suspicion and distrust toward Muslims generally that keeps coming up in national debates, that keeps spawning hate crimes. I understand that it's a reaction to terrorism and driven by fear. But take a glance at the news from the Middle East. The terrorists have killed many times more Muslims than they have Christians. That's why we have so many Muslim refugees.
In truth, there's no justification for this to be cast as an "us vs. them" scenario with Muslims on one side and Christians on the other. And the only way we're going to get past "us vs. them" is if we can figure out a way to all be a part of "us."
So, I'm kneeling with my Muslim brothers and sisters in prayer to the God we both adore, five times a day for the next month. I'm getting up way before dawn so I can eat when they eat and I can fast when they fast. I'm hoping this will change me, the parts of me that still think in the language of us and them.
Will it make any difference to the world?
I don't know. But there's this passage of what I hold to be scripture that makes me think it might: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:6).
The world needs God right now. He wants to bless us. But there are things in the way. Things on our side. I believe that if we can unite our faith, in spite of our differences, those things will disappear and we'll be astounded by the blessings that pour out upon us.
I love this! Thanks for sharing your perspective and for the call to unity!ReplyDelete
Thank you! And thanks for taking the time to respond.Delete