by Martin Brooks
We’re all about gathering Muslims and Christians together in ways that foster relationship, and Ramadan is a great time to do that. Our Muslim friends are already gathering many evenings throughout the month to break their fasts together, and they often invite us into their space to share this meal with them.
Sometimes Christians are hesitant about the idea, though, perhaps fearing the unknown, not wanting to appear supportive of another religion, or even thinking that it’s wrong or naive to take people into mosques.
So here are a few reasons I think it’s important and valuable for Christians to attend an Iftar meal during Ramadan.
- You want to be blessed. – Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. You’re tired of hearing about hate crimes and shootings around the world. You believe Jesus offers hope for a better future, so you’re willing to risk being a peacemaker. Quoting from Psalm 34, Peter tells his readers to seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34:14, 1 Peter 3:11). It’s simple obedience to actively pursue peace.
- You’re serious about your faith – Remember that commandment about not bearing false witness? Let’s face it, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Some people unintentionally quote and repeat things that are inaccurate. I remember reading Christian books about Islam that I now know were just plain wrong. Maybe the writers supposed that all 1.5 billion Muslims believe the same things, but when I actually sat down and talked to Muslims I realized that they didn’t believe what I had read in some of those books. We really need to talk to individual Muslims to learn what motivates and inspires them, rather than lumping everyone together. You can do that at a local iftar.
- It’s what Jesus taught his disciples to do – Remember when Jesus took the disciples through Samaria and talked to the Samaritan woman at the well? He seemed to delight in stretching his disciples and showing love to people deemed to be unworthy of it. He touched lepers, ate with sinners, talked to women, and healed on the Sabbath. And what about the time he got the disciples in a boat to go to the region of the Gerasenes, where the Gentiles were raising pigs? If you follow Jesus, he’s likely to call you into some uncomfortable places, maybe places you’d rather not go but places where he wants to do some amazing things. If you read John 4 and Mark 5, I suspect you might see several parallels with attending an iftar.
- God created us to be in relationship – The consequences of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden include the breaking of relationships, not only between God and man but also between man and nature, and between man and man. The rebellion also brought death instead of abundant life, and God immediately set about to rectify this. As New Testament believers, Paul tells us that we too have been charged with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
- The food is great and the conversations are even better if you’re open to such things. Seriously, all faith traditions like to eat together: Passovers, church dinners, iftars. There’s something about sharing a meal together that facilitates relationships, and we can follow Jesus by breaking bread with our Muslim neighbors.
If you’re uncertain about what you might be getting into, Bloomberg shared a good factual summary of what happens during Ramadan, posing a series of common questions and answers. There are, however, even better questions to be asked and even more insightful things to learn. Some things can’t be learned from a distance. Some questions require a friend to ask, like, “Do you get headaches from not eating?” or “Does Ramadan make you feel close to God or are you just happy when it’s over?” or “Does God ever speak to you through dreams or visions?”
Attending an Iftar won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it’s a critical first step toward loving others and creating a world that’s more peaceful for us all.