While Ramadan is a celebration for Muslims, for many Christians, these days are a struggle. Let me take you along in the day in the life of a Christian in Egypt during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, all Muslims become stricter and less tolerant towards Christians. The daily life challenges of a Christian in Egypt in Ramadan are not new. The practical implications differ from one setting to another, yet the spirit of a strict religious attitude governs the atmosphere, no matter where Christians live.
Christian men and women notice the presence of Ramadan without any doubt—not only by the louder speakers of the mosques but also, by the glaring looks of fasting Muslims.
The Christian Commute
Yesterday, a young Christian woman from my church told me she felt so uncomfortable with all those dirty looks in the bus.
A Christian man rides a public bus, and here is what he sees… unlike normal days, during Ramadan, many Muslim men and women read their Quran out loud—especially when it comes to reading a passage about Christian and Jews—those infidels who will go to hell, according to some Quranic verses. A keen Muslim believes that by doing this, they may be earning additional points from Allah. The Christian man stands listening, submissively, until his stop comes. There is nowhere else to go.
On the other hand, a Christian woman is screened by the majority of the travelers on the same bus. Because she is not covered under the hijab, she stands in the bus, helplessly, as she receives despising looks. Although courtesy dictates that a woman is usually invited by men to take their seats on the busy bus, as a Christian woman, such a courtesy is denied from her.
Both Christian man and woman finally arrive at their workplace, already exhausted from the rough start to the day. They can’t escape the heavy thought that this is yet another day where they will sit in an office with Muslim colleagues who are hungry, thirsty and not interested in any conversations—unless it includes criticizing the Christian faith. After all, provoking and intimidating a Christian is a good way to kill some time from the long hours before Muslims can go home to prepare for the sunset breakfast.
The End of the Fast
The call for the sunset prayer announces the permission for fasting Muslims to eat and drink after a long day of fasting. The first hour after the sunset prayer call is always a silent hour throughout the country. Streets are nearly empty; no public transportation, all shops are closed and every public activity is put on hold until everyone has had their long-awaited meal.
Seeking God in Prayer
Sometimes I use this time to go out to our small balcony to enjoy the rare quiet moments of the overpopulated busy capital. This is when I enjoy the evening air, and I look around and pray for the millions of Muslims—that God may listen to many of them who are truly searching to know and serve the true God. I pray that those who have a true heart’s desire to reach out to God will find Him reaching out to them through the love of Jesus reflected in the lives of shining Christians throughout the country of Egypt.