Would you practice your faith even if no one around you did?
Though you may not realize it, we are in the middle of a very special month for those of the Islamic faith — Ramadan. Having lived in the Middle East for over twenty years, I know how this month of fasting affects life. Work slows, sleep increases, time with family is important, as is time at mosque. Women spend hours cooking, while avoiding the temptation of tasting or drinking. Ramadan in the summer months can be unbearable, as the day is long, the heat leads to extreme thirst, and the body grows weary.
For Muslims in the United States or other non-Muslim-majority countries, keeping Ramadan is a challenge. They live and work among people who are clueless to their struggle to keep from food and drink or need for sleep. Does anyone sympathize with their desire to practice their faith? Does anyone understand?
I’ve been in countries where there was no evidence of Christmas or Easter, but I’m thankful that the model we have for Christianity comes from a mixed group of people who lived under occupation, a state religion of emperor worship, and even severe persecution. That early church showed me that the important thing was my confession of faith in Christ and living in a way that drew others to him.
In the midst of those countries, I’ve had Muslim friends bring me sweets or a gift to honor my holiday. Muslims have given us crosses and tapestries about Jesus. They practiced the care that a Samaritan gave to a Jew, so long ago in a story Jesus told.
As I remember those days, I ask myself now, “have I shown understanding and compassion to the Muslims in my midst?” “Is there one I’ve greeted with ‘Ramadan Kareem’, to show I recognize they’re in their time of fasting?”
I want to be the Good Samaritan. Better yet, I want to be like Jesus, who went to visit the tax collector and ate with sinners.
Are you living your faith because it’s easy and everyone around you lives the same, or are you living it out as Jesus did, as Paul, as the early church? That kind of faith comes at a price, but brings much fruit.