Monday, September 17, 2007

Reflections on Ramadan

My Muslim friends are fasting and are taking it very seriously but without fuss or show. The fast lasts during the holy month and is from dawn to dusk. I used to think this was a bit of a cop-out as you could feast after sunset, at the meal called Iftar. Apart from the fact that I would find it hard to go from dawn to dusk without eating or drinking anyway, my friends tell me that to keep within the spirit of Ramadan you should only eat and drink sparingly after dusk - enough to sustain your strength. The whole experience is not without meaning as the aim is to develop a sense of God-awareness, also known as Taqwa. This heightened awareness comes both through fasting and concentrated readings of the Quran.

The nearest thing we Christians have to Ramadan is Lent. Now I don't know about you, but my sense of Lent is that it generally pales into insignificance against Ramadan. Certianly here in the U.K. it has been reduced to the level of giving up chocolate, alcohol or crisps - and this to reproduce in the Christian an experience similar to that of Christ in the wilderness. We too aim for Taqwa, the heightened awareness of God.

I know which of the two is most likely to experience it.

I am grateful to my Muslim friends for putting me to shame. My prayer is that, come Lent, I shall strive more to get the balance of body and soul right. What an irony for me to be shown the way to correcting the imperfections of my own faith through the holiness of another faith community. Isn't it humbling that God is showing me how to be a better Christian through my Muslim friends?