India: Letter to Christians for Start of Ramadan
It has been my personal experience that my approach to Muslims … has deepened my own Christian faith and enkindled more love in my heart, but the most significant change has been that, for the first time in my life, hope has become something real and meaningful for me and has added a new dimension of what I might term ‘buoyancy’ to my life. We could profitably recall the role of the Holy Spirit as emphasized in the Acts of the Apostles and as referred to by Paul when he wrote to the tiny Christian community in Corinth: I sowed the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow. The one who sows and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because He makes the plant grow. (1 Cor. 3, 6-7).
Paul Jackson SJ
Fasting is a family event. In many Muslims families that I know, every member of the family fasts, except children and elderly persons and perhaps a sick person. The normal rhythm of life is altered as fasting members of the family rise early to eat and drink something before the fasting hour begins, and as they rest a while in the afternoon. They support and encourage one another in the later hours of fasting as the body pines for a drink and food. Often, I have heard from Muslim friends that they fast in order to obey God and to please God.
For Muslims, the month of Ramzan is a month when they take stock of their spiritual lives. It is the time to examine their conscience. They ask themselves how they have spent time and money during the year and if they have they restrained their tongues. They repent for their sins and reorient themselves towards God and learn to grow in God-consciousness or taqwa. Taqwa is a positive experience of the ‘fear of God’, a genuine effort made to bend one’s will to the will of God. They seek forgiveness from God as they believe God’s forgiveness is superabundant in the month of Ramzan.
Christians who live among Muslims could at least symbolically fast for a day or two to share in the experience of Muslims.
Ramzan is very special for Muslims sine they believe that in 610 CE in this very month the first verses of the Qur’an ‘descended’ upon Muhammad through the agency of Gabriel as guidance for all humanity.