Ramadan is a month of intense religious fervor for Muslims around the world. For the tens of thousands of believers living in Egypt, the month of Ramadan serves as a deeply saddening demonstration of the spiritual bondage and constant searching for peace among their Muslim neighbors. Egyptian Christians must also be careful not to provoke their tired, hungry neighbors during this highly volatile time. An Egyptian Christian’s blog provides a window into life in Egypt during Ramadan.
“Ramadan is the ‘fasting’ month for Muslims around the world. For 30 days, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset! It’s quite a hard job, to be honest, to fast so many hours without food, and especially without any liquids, keeping in mind the high summer temperatures that reach 36 – 42 Celsius (97-108 degree Fahrenheit) here in Cairo.
Ramadan arrives bringing a special “cultural” and “religious” atmosphere for Muslims. Productivity, in general, is greatly reduced because everyone is tired and exhausted. From the time they break their fast each evening to the time they start the fast at dawn the next day, Muslims keep eating and drinking almost all night! More food is consumed in this one month than any other month of the year. The breakfast table, called ‘iftar’ in Arabic, must be rich with excessive amounts of a variety of foods. In addition to the abundance of food available after sunset there are also many social gatherings among family and friends.
During Ramadan, the religious atmosphere among Muslims rises dramatically… more than any other time of the year. Muslims want to read the Qur’an extensively, often very loudly in public places such as public transportation, at work and certainly at home. This is a “holy” month for Islam, so they are promised to gain more points from Allah when they do “good works” like this, hoping that some of the bad things they have done during the past year will be erased! Some will distribute free grocery packages, others hold street-side, free-of-charge “iftar” tables for passersby to sit down and eat if they are not able to reach home in time to break their fast.
Ramadan is also a special month when Muslims try to win ‘infidels’ to Islam—to convert their Christian neighbors, colleagues and friends to what they believe is the last and best religion, Islam! This causes tension among Egyptian Christians who try to remain respectful but firm against their Muslim acquaintances’ conversion efforts while not allowing it to fall into heated arguments.
My heart is really broken for the millions of Muslims here in Egypt and around the world who are seeking peace with God this month, trying so hard to do good works in an effort to somehow earn His favor and forgiveness. Although God is so near to those truly calling on His name, it brings tears to my eyes that most of my countrymen do not know that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give them freely, through simple faith, that peace with God they so long to have.
Pray for Muslims throughout this Ramadan….and all of the followers of Jesus who live alongside them!”
Father, thank you for Your gift of grace; where we do not live with the pressure of needing to do “good works,” and are never fully assured of our salvation; but instead there is an eternal home for us in heaven simply because we believe. Father our hearts desire is for Muslims around the world to also know of this gift. Fill them today with that knowledge so that they too can live in perfect peace with You. Praising You, Amen