June 6 marked the beginning of Ramadan for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Until July 5th, Muslims will fast daily from sunrise to sunset. It is considered a month of holiness, when fasting can center folks, inviting them to remember the poor and acknowledge their dependence on God. It is a month of discipline and celebration. As a Muslim friend recently told me, breaking the fast in Ramadan is like Thanksgiving every day. Families and friends often gather to feast at sundown.
During the summers of 2012 and 2013, I had the pleasure of spending Ramadan with a group of Muslims in Kenya. I saw how draining the month long fast could be, but I also saw its effect on the community in positive ways. Many looked forward to Ramadan as a time to focus on faith, to deepen prayer, to connect with God, and come together as a people.
We are living in a time of great misunderstanding surrounding Islam. The holy season of Ramadan is a good time for Christians to learn more, listen intently and open our hearts to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I’m heartened to see the birth of an organization called Congregations Together for Peace that builds ties between Christian and Muslim communities. I’m encouraged that Lutheran Social Services for Minnesota has created a study guide for Christian adults and youth to work through.
Maybe this Ramadan God is calling us to pray daily for stronger relationships between Christians and Muslims. Or could it mean fasting one day a week in solidarity? Invite a local Imam to your congregation to speak, or extending a blessed Ramadan to Muslims in your life. To honor their holy season, let us walk with our Muslim brothers and sisters toward lasting peace.