What are the problems for Christians
of Muslim background?
CBN.com - The Muslim Fast
Month of Ramadan will soon be here again. Islamic Law requires of all adult
Muslims to abstain from all food and drink during the daylight hours of
this thirty day period; this is not so difficult now that the days are short,
but it can be quite an ordeal during the long hot hours of summer. Of course,
exception is made for those whose health would be at risk, such as the ill,
pregnant women, and even travelers. But they must make up the days missed
when they can.
What does Ramadan mean for Christians of Muslim background, especially those
living in Islamic countries? Of the five required practices or "Pillars,"
the Fast seems to bring the greatest pressure to conform. This is because
it is a communal event centered in the home and the family, and they know
whether or not you are fasting. It also involves two of our most basic needs--food
and drink. This is why more Muslims practice the Fast than any other Pillar;
even pregnant women fast when they shouldn't. It's only natural then that
converts are under pressure to fast as well.
What's more, most of these countries are poor, under considerable demographic
pressure, and have severe housing shortages; you'll often find grown children,
both married and unmarried, living with parents. If everyone in the home
is fasting, how can you go about your normal eating habits? And if you do
break the Fast, even if not publicly, you risk prosecution; one Moroccan
Christian spent six months in jail for just that. No wonder that for Christians
of Muslim background Ramadan is a time of stress and fear, and often feelings
But is it all that necessary for converts from Islam to break the Fast?
Today, some are saying that since God wants people to have a personal relationship
with Himself, and not just change religions, a complete break with Islam
is unnecessary. Missionaries of the past are said to have needlessly "extracted
the converts from their culture" by urging such a break. The new approach
encourages converts to stay within Islam and continue their Muslim practices,
but replace the Qur'anic passages with words expressive of Biblical content.
They are nevertheless taught that in any case they cannot thereby earn their
The problem, however, is that for Islam "It is man's works, his actualization
of divine will on earth as it is in heaven, that constitutes redemption,"
as one Muslim scholar put it. One could hardly find an approach to religion
more contrary to Biblical teaching than that. If we urge converts to keep
the Fast and other Muslim practices, while telling themselves that this
does not achieve their salvation, we are putting them in a contradictory
and impossible situation. How much better it would be to face the struggle
with them. What some have done is to bring the believers together to "fast
and pray" during the noon hour for the salvation of Muslim family members
and friends. Now there is a biblical approach to the struggle.
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