The new moon has been sighted and the holy month of Ramadan starts August 1, 2011. The Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims will eat breakfast early before the day begins and adults will not have anything else to eat or drink until nightfall. This routine will be followed all month.
The purpose of the fast is to please Allah and seek forgiveness for past sins. It is believed by Muslims that the fast will put them in a better position to avoid unlawful things and acts all year.
The founder of Islam was Muhammad. The Muslims believe he had revelations throughout his life and many of them are recorded in the Quran. Today there are over one billion believers of Islam and it is growing fast.
Some Muslims are more peaceful than others. Approximately 90% of the Muslims are Sunni and around 10% are Shites, who are more militant. Radical Muslims follow and trust in every scripture in the Koran, which promotes fighting for their cause (Sura 61:3). If one fights against Allah or renounces Islam for another religion, they will be “put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off” (Sura 5:34).
Although the scripture is debated, many believe the Koran instructs Islamists not to make friendships with Jews and Christians (Koran 5:51) but to war against them (Koran 4:5). If this particular interpretation of the scripture is correct, it is certainly a different philosophy than Jesus had. In Luke 6:27 He said for His followers (on a personal level) to “love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.”
According to the Bible, we are saved by grace and awarded according to our works. Islam teaches salvation is OF good work. In fact, Ramadan is a time of purification accomplished through good deeds and self control.
In this country we appreciate the freedoms we have, which is unlike the Islamic law that squelches freedom of speech, the press, and religion. But in the United States, Muslims are free to worship Allah.
The concept of love for others is a central teaching of Christianity. As Christians, we disagree with Islamic teachings, but we love all Muslims. We are at war with terrorists, not Islam.
In America it is important for people of faith to have the courage and right to express their beliefs. But Christians suffer persecutions in Muslim-dominated countries and they continue to need our prayers. It is estimated that 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ.
One thing is certain. Fasting clears out the cobwebs and allows us to think more clearly. Christians and Muslims alike can fast for peace, love and forgiveness.
And Americans of all faiths can thank their God for the freedoms enjoyed in this wonderful country.