Many western Christians once considered Islam a distant religion having little influence on our culture and society. Following the discovery of oil in the Islamic world and massive immigration from Islamic nations after World War II the fabric of Judeo-Christian society began to unravel.
Ramadan, translated as scorching heat or dryness, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which began in 622 AD, the year Muhammad and a small group of followers migrated from Mecca to Medina. This migration, known as the Hijra, marked an important shift in the teachings of Muhammad. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar the dates of Ramadan change each year by approximately 11 days. This year Ramadan should begin on Tuesday, July 9 with the sighting of the new moon.
Muslims believe that it was during the month of Ramadan when Muhammad first began to receive his revelations so it is considered the holiest month in Islam. The Ramadan fast (sawm) is the fourth pillar of the Islamic faith. The other pillars are reciting the Islamic creed (shahada), required daily prayers (salah), almsgiving (zakat) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). These five basic acts in Islam are the foundation of Muslim life.
During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims will observe a fast from sunup to sundown for each of the 29 to 30 days of the month. They are to abstain from smoking, drinking, eating and sexual pleasure during the daylight hours. It is to be a time of spiritual reflection and increased devotion to Allah, and Muslims believe the rewards for fasting during this time are multiplied. All Muslims are required to fast when they reach puberty as long as they are sane and have no illnesses such as diabetes. Exceptions to the fast are travel, menstruation, severe illness, pregnancy and breast-feeding. Those who are unable to fast because of illness or travel are required to make up the days they missed later.
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an. Juz’, which is 1/30 of the Qur’an is recited sometimes through voluntary prayers that are held in mosques every night of the month. Charity is important during Ramadan, and because Muslims believe all good deeds are more handsomely rewarded in Ramadan many Muslims may give a larger portion or even all of their required zakat (alms of 2.5%) during the month.
As the Muslim population has increased in traditionally western nations so has Islam’s influence. In an act described by a British broadcaster as “‘deliberate provocation’ aimed at viewers who might associate Islam with extremism,” Britain’s Channel 4 announced the television station would air the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during the month of Ramadan. The broadcast of the call to prayer known as the adhan is three-minutes long and will be aired at about 3 am each day. Additional prayer times throughout the day will be broadcast on the station’s website.
The adhan is recited in Arabic and each line is repeated for emphasis. Removing the repetition and translating it into English, the following words will be broadcast over the United Kingdom for the next 30 days:
Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest.
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer
Hasten to real success, hasten to real success
Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest.
There is none worthy of worship but Allah.
In addition, Channel 4 available across the United Kingdom will also be featuring “4Ramadan” described as a season of programs “reflecting what life is like for Britain’s Muslim population who observe this religious festival.”
A spokesman from the Muslim Council of Britain in support of the station said, “This is a very special month for Muslims and its recognition on a mainstream channel is not only symbolic for belonging and solidarity but will hopefully help to portray a more realistic account of Islam and Muslims.”
During the next 30 days as we pray for Muslims during this time of heightened spiritual awareness for them, we ask that God will open the eyes and hearts of each of us to truly grasp a “realistic account of Islam and Muslims.”
Pray that any words spoken over the nations of the world that are not from the true and living God will fall null and void.
Pray as Muslims quench their physical thirst from the Ramadan fast each day, that God will quench their spiritual thirst with the living water of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Muslim people have been created by God to have a personal relationship with Him. Pray that Muslims will receive God’s love and have divine encounters with Jesus Christ as the Son of God during this time.