By Matt Morrison
Sunday evening marked the beginning of the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, known as Ramadan. In this time, Muslims set aside space for spiritual reflection and seek a revelation from God. Here are five things you should understand:
1. It began last week.
The event officially began on Friday evening. Traditionally, it begins one day after the new moon, which marks the start of a new month. This took place on May 26. It doesn’t just encompass Muslims in the Middle East but all followers globally.
2. It lasts a full month.
Ramadan takes place over the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on lunar patterns instead of the sun’s revolution. Under this practice, the month lasts 29-30 days on average. Traditionally, the people watch for the new moon to mark the beginning of their celebrations.
3. It’s a critical time for Muslims.
Ramadan is observed worldwide and is regarded as one of Islam’s five pillars. It commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammad. In some Muslim countries, you can find lights strung up in public squares. Others celebrate with lanterns. It’s written in the Hadith that “when Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains.”
4. It’s a call to fast, reflect, and observe.
With the exception of those with health concerns, Muslims begin a strict fasting program. This is to encourage spiritual meditation and reflection on the teachings of Islam. During the day, Muslims abstain from food, liquids, and even intercourse. They also put a strong emphasis on charity during this time, believing they will receive even greater spiritual reward.
5. It reaches its climax on June 24.
The entire month culminates on Laylat al-Qadr, translating “The Night of Power,” falling this year on June 24. This is considered the holiest night of the year, “better than one thousand months.” This is when Muslims believe God will forgive all of their past and present sins. They intensely seek grace and forgiveness. On this night, they look for a revelation of their own from God.
Ramadan’s spiritual significance cannot be overstated. For Muslims, this is a critical time of the year. This is also a time for us, as Christians, to pray for them. As they seek spiritual answers, we should pray that God truly reveals himself to them – that they will experience the depths of his love and grace while surrendering their lives over to him.
You can join the community of prayer warriors asking God to speak to the Muslim people on 8thirty8.