RICHMOND, Va. (BP)—Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims all around the world. This year from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3, many Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset and gathering in the evenings to eat and celebrate the holiday with family.
Ramadan is a time of spirituality for Muslims; they converse about religion and believe fasting will bring them closer to Allah. Based on the Muslim calendar, it falls on different dates each year.
Muslims also give to the poor during Ramadan. Fasting and giving alms are two of the five “pillars” of Islam, which Muslims believe they must follow to go to heaven.
In some Muslim countries, no food is sold during the day, and restaurants are not open until night, said Gerry Volkart, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board’s associate for the Northern Africa and Middle East region. Most Muslims will not even drink water during the day.
Typically, Muslim women spend their days cooking during Ramadan. Around 5 p.m. the streets become clogged with Muslims headed home from work to be ready to eat as soon as the sun sets. After the meal, they go shopping or spend time with their families. Midnight is the usual bedtime, and they get up about 4 a.m. to eat again before the sun rises.
Sometimes children become sick during the day because of the lack of food or water, Volkart said. Occasionally adults are hospitalized for overeating during the night. Those who are extremely ill and pregnant women do not have to fast during Ramadan but are expected to make it up at another time during the year.
According to Islamic tradition, on one night during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammad received the Koran from Allah. Muslims celebrate this night, called the “Night of Power.” No one is sure when the night really occurred, but they celebrate it on the 26th day of Ramadan. They believe heaven will open up that night for God to hear their prayers and grant them.
International Mission Board workers in Muslim areas intercede for those seeking God during Ramadan, and Southern Baptists can join them.
Many Muslims have told believers that during the night they have seen visions of a man and believe this man to be Jesus. Muslims with these visions or dreams typically will seek someone, usually a believer, to explain the vision.
“Year in and year out I see a heightened increase in God speaking to the hearts and lives of Muslims through dreams and visions during this focused time of prayer for Muslims,” IMB international prayer strategy director Ed Cox said. “Believers must be ready to respond and answer questions people come to them with.”
Volkart said Southern Baptists can intercede on behalf of Muslims who are expecting to hear from God. Believers can pray for them to ask questions about Jesus. Workers from around the world ask for Southern Baptists to pray for Muslims as they seek God and for believers whose faith will be challenged during Ramadan.
“There are eager and expecting hearts waiting for someone to bring them Good News,” said a worker for Northern Africa and the Middle East.
During Ramadan, Southern Baptist women can focus on interceding for Muslim women, the worker said, noting that Muslim women enjoy spending time together during the day, often sharing about their families.
Southern Baptist women can meet during Ramadan and have tea together, praying for these women who often are isolated from others.
For resources on how to participate in a woman’s prayer tea or for a 31-day Muslim prayer calendar, go to http://btw.imb.org/. For specific ways to pray for Muslims during Ramadan, go to http://imb.org/compassionnet/.