Ramadan, a sacred time for reflection, sacrifice to Muslims and appreciation as non-Muslims

Mohammed Ballas AP As the sun rises a Palestinian Muslim man reads from the Quran during ‘fajr’, or early morning … Continued

Mohammed Ballas


As the sun rises a Palestinian Muslim man reads from the Quran during ‘fajr’, or early morning prayers, during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at a mosque in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Tuesday, Aug, 16, 2011. Muslims throughout the world are celebrating the holy fasting month of Ramadan when observants fast from dawn till dusk.

This week remember to wish all your Muslim friends “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” (“Blessed/Happy Ramadan”) as the annual fast of Islam begins Friday, July 20 and goes until Aug. 18.

Ramadan commemorates the month when the sacred scriptures of Islam, the Koran, was given to the prophet Muhammad. In Islam, it is a period of purification, a time if fasting. The fast is observed throughout daylight, commencing at sunrise and concluding at sunset each day. Not only does the fast include food, but water and other beverages— not even a sip. In many instances, Muslims even fast from most forms of entertainment, creating time to recite their scripture and performing additional prayers throughout the night (tarawih or taraweeh).

It’s not simply a fast from food, but a time of cleansing both the body and the soul. Even small children are included in this sacrament.

To Muslims, this practice is essential to their faith; Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, the soul of the Islamic faith. Observing this fast is central to religious identity.

Sadly, it took me way too long to recognize a glaring inconsistency in my life. Every year at Christmas, I’d receive (and continue to) a flurry of well wishes from dear Muslim friends—all wishing me a “Merry Christmas.”

View Photo Gallery: Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan in 2011.

Christmas, of course, is a sacred religious festival for Christians, celebrating the birth of our Christ. And so the recognition of this religious holiday from so many Muslim friends always surprised me. Isa or Jesus is a revered prophet in the Islamic tradition, and so there are clear hinges for Muslims to observe portions of the celebrations, but holiday greetings have always been a sincere affirmation of friendship.

Though many of my Muslim friends remembered me on many of the Christian holidays, I routinely failed to recognize theirs.

Ramadan is not only a special time for Muslims, but for people of all faiths. For non-Muslims, we are invited to consider making our own sacrifices and we are challenged to follow the example of our devoted friends. This is a prayerful time to consider what a more peaceful world might look like if we’d all prioritize periods of religious or non-religious purification.

So this week, to honor your valued friendships with Muslims return the respect and affirmation by wishing them “Ramadan Mubarak.” And come mid-August when the first crescent of the new moon is visible and the fast is completed be sure to wish them “Eid ul-Fitr Mubarak” or “Eid Mubarak” to celebrate their devotion and sacrifices.

To all my Muslim sisters and brothers, may your sacrifice, example and the fruit of your prayers bless us all.

Christopher L. Heuertz

is senior strategist for

Word Made Flesh

, a community serving the world’s poor, and an author whose books include “

Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

” and the upcoming “

Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

.” Follow him on Twitter



View Photo Gallery: The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims around the globe refrain during the day from eating and drinking, begins July 20.

  • itsallconnected

    Saying ‘ramadam mubarak’ is like saying ‘happy lent’ doesn’t make much sense. If you want to show respect, just understand that its Ramadan, and then at the end of Ramadan say ‘eid mubark’ to your muslim friends.

  • Safi

    How many a hadeeth we have where Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) has always showed love, tolerance and respect towards other religions, Where has that teaching, that practicality of life disappeared? If we can truely follow atleast his character, not just pick&choose the laws on our whims, this world will be a better place. Ramadan Mubarak to you all.

  • Safi

    @itsallconnected – There is a difference when you say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ at the begining and ‘Eid Mubarak’ at the end. you say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ at the start of the Ramadan month, you actually in some way are wishing the person all the best for their fasting and you say ‘Eid Mubarak’ at the end of it because they earned it.

    so ‘Eid Mubarak’ carries a different sense to person who has completed all his fast than a person who doesnt care about them. its like wishing a person for his examination and congratulating him after he comes out succesful.

  • jeel

    Chris, you have hit the right note with this post and what a honor to have you as my Friend/Brother. Ramadan Mubharak (in a couple of days) to everyone and may we all acquire what we seek for in our life.

  • nkri401

    Why don’t we just say have a nice day and mean it…


  • Fakruddin

    Very Good Article and shows the importance of Ramadhan and brotherhood. Thanks Chris.

  • Cristina

    In my country, the evangelical Christians don’t dance, drink or go to parties where dancing and drinking happen. When I became a member of the ecangelical church I started thinking about my friends who were going to be married, baptised or have other kinds of celebrations that would come in conflict with the “don’t’s” I was supposed to respect and obey. I asked around if going to a so-called non-Christian wedding was wrong. The answer came blunt: NO! Then, I asked if it was ok for the “non-Christians” to come to weddings performed by evangelical pastors. The answer was somehow sweetened – OH YES!
    Now I know better, but back then I was left with an image of painful intolerance.
    I do participate in my friends’ “non-Christian” celebrations, I do take part in my friends’ lives even if they are not on the “right path”. And I think my stand speaks more love this way. Jesus calls us to live among the world but not be OF this world.
    I happen to know the Muslim friends Chris Heuertz refers to here. They are wonderful wonderful people. You know why? Because when I first visited their home in India they received me – a total non-Muslim stranger – with a hospitality I had never encountered! Around the dinner table we all ate and enjoyed love and fellowship like humans created by God.
    I think we would all live revolutionary lives if we allowed ourselve to dream a world where we are free to love.
    Ramadan Mubarak to my dear Muslim friends!
    May we all find true love! May we all find true freedom!
    Cristina from Romania

  • aby

    “…PBUH has always showed love, tolerance and respect towards other religions,….”
    Man you must be joking! Right? Is this the same “prophet” who on his deathbed ordered that the whole Arabian Peninsula be “cleansed” of the followers of all members of other religions . And is this not why the whole of present day Saudi Arabia does not have a single house of worship for non-Muslims? Please do not insult our intelligence.

  • Abdul Majid Zargar

    I wish that the followers of all the three Ibrahimic religions i.e Christanity, Islam & Judaism become friends in letter & siprit.

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