East and Southeast Asia are home to over 287 million Muslim people. That is more than in the whole of the Middle East.
For these Muslims, Ramadan is one of the most significant months of the year. Here are three reasons why:
1. Five pillars
Observing Ramadan is part of what it means to be a Muslim. Sawn (fasting) is one of the five things all adult Muslims must do. The Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, set out these five pillars.
Sawm is a complete fast from food and drink from dawn till sunset every day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe the Qur’an was first revealed to Muhammad during Ramadan.
The whole community comes together to observe the fast. It’s not about individual resolve but a collective effort.
The fasting month reinforces the strong sense of community Muslims feel – both in their local area and the Ummah, the global Muslim community. Plus, each day ends with a communal fast-breaking meal.
3. Rewards and understanding
Talking to Muslim people will probably reveal a range of motivations and benefits they get from observing the fasting month. One of these is increased self-control. One book on Islamic teaching says, ‘the very purpose of fasting is to enable a Muslim to control his passions so that he becomes a person of good deeds and intentions.’ Other benefits include a growing understanding of life for poor and hungry people. This understanding helps the Muslim community to support them better.
Ramadan is also a time to seek blessings from Allah. Attendance at daytime prayers and Qur’anic recitals often increases during Ramadan. Many Muslims also believe fasting multiplies spiritual rewards.
Because it’s a significant time of year for Muslims, it’s important to us at OMF. We want to be blessing Muslims, and part of this is understanding who they are, what they believe and how we can build deeper friendships with them.
Here are a few prayer points to start with:
• Pray for Indonesia: one of the largest Muslim-majority nations in the world. As this country has been crippled by economic and health challenges, many Muslims are just now beginning their religious pilgrimages again. This presents us with the opportunity to pray for them as they journey.
• Pray for Jordan: The culture of this country is defined by many Muslim traditions and attitudes. Values like hospitality and charity are very important here. Pray for those serving the poor, whether Christian or Muslim, that they will have what they need to be a blessing to those experiencing need.
• Pray for Muslims in the Yunnan province of China: Some of these Muslims are decedents from the first Islamic converts in the 7th and 8th centuries. We pray against ongoing religious oppression here. Pray that the minority Jesus followers in the region can actively love their neighbours.
Thank YOU for your prayers for the least-reached peoples of the world.
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