SANTA ANA, Calif. (July 20, 2012) – The following blog is the latest post from a co-worker in Egypt about the chaotic, changing situation in Egypt over the past several weeks.
July 20, 2012:
Ramadan, which started today, is the fasting month for Muslims around the world. For 30 days, most 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 in Cairo.
Ramadan brings a special cultural and religious atmosphere for Muslims in several ways. It’s a month of celebration of one of Islam’s most important pillars of belief. More food is consumed in this month than any other month of the year. From the time they break their fast each evening to the time they start the fast at dawn of the next day, some Muslims keep eating and drinking almost all night. The table, called “iftar” in Arabic, must be rich with excessive amounts of food of a big variety, whenever affordable.
Productivity, in general, is very minimal throughout this month, due to the fact that everyone is always tired and exhausted. Tempers are mostly hot, and driving home just before “iftar” time is a real traffic nightmare. “Iftar” is held after sunset.
There are also many social gatherings of family and friends, when the warm atmosphere of Middle Eastern social relationships are strongly felt.
At the same time, the religious atmosphere among Muslims rises dramatically, more than any other month of the year. During Ramadan, Muslims usually read the Quran 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.
Many Muslims distribute free grocery packages, hold many street-side, free “iftar” tables for passersby to sit down and eat if they are not able to reach home in time to break their fast in the evening. And of course, Ramadan is also a special month when Muslims want to try to win “infidels” back to Islam; trying to convert their Christian neighbors, colleagues and friends to what they believe is the last and best religion.
So this can cause a lot of tension among Egypt’s Christians – to remain respectful but firm against their Muslim acquaintances’ conversion efforts, without falling 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!