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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Prominent Christian Leader Fasting for Ramadan

I'm not sure how many of you have heard of Brian McLaren. He is a pretty prominent leader in a sort of post-Modern Christian movement known by some as the Emergent Church. He and some other Christians are fasting for Ramadan, along with Muslim friends of theirs.
Here is an excerpt from his blog explaining the purpose of the fast.

"We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness. Each of us will have at least one Muslim friend who will serve as our partner in the fast. These friends welcome us in the same spirit of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.
We will seek to avoid being disrespectful or unfaithful to our own faith tradition in our desire to be respectful to the faith tradition of our friends. For example, since the Bible teaches us the importance of fasting and being generous to the poor, we can participate as Christians in fidelity to the Bible as our Muslim friends do so in fidelity to the Quran.
Among the core values of Ramadan are self control, expressing kindness, and resolving conflicts. For this reason, if we are criticized or misunderstood by Christians, Muslims, or others for this endeavor, we will avoid defending ourselves or engaging in arguments. Instead, we will seek to explain ourselves humbly, simply, and briefly when necessary, connecting with empathy to the needs and feelings of others as we express our own.
Our main purpose for participating will be our own spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity, but we also hope that our experience will inspire others to pray and work for peace and the common good, together with people of other faith traditions.
May God bless all people, and teach us to love God and love one another, and so fulfill our calling as human beings."


Another pastor, Ben Ries has written an article about his experience of fasting Ramadan. 


I think that fasting Ramadan, even for the non-Muslim, can have lasting spiritual implications. There are some days that Christians traditionally fast, or observe partial fasts, such as Catholics during lent. There is also the Bible fast of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which is a 24 hour total fast observed by Jews and certain Christian groups today. However, there are very few other times that Christians undertake fasts as a community. I think that Christians and Muslims both can use the time of Ramadan as a time of introspection into our own communities. By humbling ourselves and fasting, God can reveal to each of us what we are doing right and wrong in our own faith.

Some conservative Christian organizations have blasted McLaren and others for undertaking a Ramadan fast. For me, it makes a lot of sense. Fasting Ramadan was something I started doing quite a few years ago when I first started looking into Islam. I think that those who criticize people like McLaren have probably never had a close Muslim friend or neighbor who was a good example of Islam to them.

I hope that all of us who are spending more time in prayer and introspection during this month will be drawn close to our Creator. Amin.

18 comments:

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Wow, that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard :) It's an amazing example of brother and sisterhood, and shows us exactly how we should be treating each other. Mashallah!

Ahavah-Shim'eon said...

Well spoken Fahiima and there is just one more thing to add to that... a resounding Aymen!

♥Tiffany Nicole♥ said...

I think thats great...I was going to fast this year because I think one can never go wrong with extra fasting and prayer...I think it shows G*d how much you really love him when you sacrafice like that.
but,
I have to drink atleast water throughout the day or I get HORRID miagrane headaches & I was telling one of my Muslim friends & he was like no you can't at all so I guess I got discouraged after our "Big Fight About Ramadan"....lol...Irony.
Maybe G*d will heal my issue in time for next year.

I think it's AWESOME that there are other Christians who can also see the Fantastic-eness (yes I made up a word) of sacrafice by fasting and prayer.

angie nader said...

thats really awesome! i think that many christians dont realize how much alike both relgions are alike...and i find it beautiful this man and his friends are doing this to bring awareness, and hopefully build a bridge between both relgions!

Nadia said...

That's really great! I know several Christians living in Salalah who have fasted the whole or Ramadan or part of it because they felt they needed to be part of the 'fasting community', and also because they were curious to know why we loved it so much.

caraboska said...

I fasted my first time out of curiosity, because I had a few e-friends at the time who were fasting. I wanted to 'bring that bit of the outside world into my home' (since traveling was not an option at the time), and beyond this, I did it with an open mind to see what it would mean for me personally to do it - as I did it. And yeah, it's that chance to get back on track, given how few hours a day we have to eat it's that reminder that we are accountable to God at the dinner table (for what we put down the hatch) and not only there (for everything else we do too). I'm also beginning to get more of a feeling of just how many hours there are in the dsy to be used in a manner pleasing to God. This effect is magnified the longer the fast is. And at this time of year, it is nearly 16 hours where I am...

Susanne said...

"I think that those who criticize people like McLaren have probably never had a close Muslim friend or neighbor who was a good example of Islam to them."


And I think that's an excellent point. I wish for more Christian/Muslim friendships in the world.

Hajar Zamzam Ismail said...

This is certainly a refreshing piece of information. I like this a lot! Thank you for sharing it.

Hajar Zamzam Ismail said...

I am tagging you in a Ramadhan tag, sis.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@TiffanyNicole, I know what you mean about the water. That's the hardest part about the Ramadan fast I think. You could always try doing an extended water-only fast a for a few days instead...well maybe when you're done with school.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Nadia, That's why I fasted the first time for Ramadan. I was working with almost all Muslims and wanted to embrace the fast as a part of the community. It was the start of a really beautiful thing, MashaAllah.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@caraboska, I know! Not being preoccupied with eating and cooking all day, not to mention the cleanup, really allows for a lot more time for introspection and worship.

caraboska said...

Stacy, Yes, food and general housekeeping takes a good two hours out of your day if you don't have a dishwasher - and that's for just one person, eating very simply!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Yep, and a little longer when you have a husband and a baby who smashes cheerios everywhere :)

caraboska said...

Well, if you have a husband, in principle it should take half as long to do the housework as it would if you are alone. But I am aware that that is easier said than done...

Mama Kalila said...

Makes me smile to hear other Non Muslims doing it... I did it one year partly out of respect for Muslim friends and partly curiousity to see if I could do it. It was a very interesting experience. I'm glad I did it.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@caraboska, you would think wouldn't you? It does make me smile when he actually does dishes or vacuums.

caraboska said...

From the time I was a little girl, my father always strove to spend the same amount of time taking care of the house - not to mention yours truly - as my mom did. Even when he was working full-time and she wasn't. I guess I'm a bit spoiled :)