The holiest month on the Islamic calendar
Ramadan began May 15 when the crescent of the new moon first became visible. Islam follows a lunar calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, causing Ramadan to fall earlier every year.
Why do Muslims fast?
For 30 days, Muslims throughout the world are expected to fast from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is a fundamental act of worship for Muslims and is one of the five pillars of Islam—along with prayer (salat), giving to the poor (zakat), the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj), and the confession of faith (shahada).
Fasting begins before dawn, and Muslims are forbidden to eat or drink during daylight hours. Daily routines are disrupted as people attempt to conserve energy. Some will try to sleep the day away if they can, and workplaces often see a drop in productivity.
As they curb hunger and thirst, men and women seek to renew their focus on Islam and purge sinful thoughts and behaviors. Many Muslims pray more than the five required daily prayers and attempt to read the entire Quran. Some also attend special evening prayer sessions to read passages from their holy book.
The spiritual rewards for good deeds, they believe, are multiplied in Ramadan. Many people will strive to be more kind and generous in hopes of reaping greater rewards.
Breaking the fast
At sunset, families gather together at a special meal called iftar. Following the tradition of Muhammad, they break the fast with dates, a nutrient-dense source of energy. After performing their sunset prayers, they enjoy a large iftar meal together. This is a time to enjoy special foods and traditions. Many look forward to feasting with friends and family in the evenings.
This past week, one of ENCOUNTER’s global partners prepared the iftar meal for local friends in the above photo. First courses were thick mayonnaise salad with a beef and rice soup. Second course was stuffed ground beef bell peppers with a side of cucumber and tomato salad. Many sweets and treats are served.
The Night of Power on Sunday, June 10
One evening toward the end of Ramadan is especially important. The Night of Power, Laylat al-Qadr, is said to be worth more than a thousand months of devotion. Muslims are encouraged to read and pray through this night in hopes that God will forgive all their sins.
Fasting with sincere faith is seen as an opportunity to atone for sins and receive forgiveness. But, Islam offers no assurance of eternal forgiveness. Its 1.8 billion followers fast in hopes of finding favor with God—but eternal life is a gift of grace, given through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
How to pray during Ramadan
– There is a heightened spiritual darkness and oppression during Ramadan. People are often grumpier because they have less energy and are hot, hungry and thirsty. Pray that their physical hunger will lead to a deep spiritual hunger and thirst.
– Pray that Muslims will become disillusioned with Ramadan and the futility of trying to earn merit with God and discover the assurance of forgiveness through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
– On June 10 during the Night of Power, Muslims spend much of this night in prayer and worship expecting they will hear from God in dreams and visions. Ask God to reveal himself through Jesus in dreams and visions to Muslims.
– Pray for physical and spiritual strength of our global partners who serve in Muslim contexts —many of them observe the fast while trying to work, care for children and offer hospitality.