International (MNN) — Ramadan begins tomorrow. It officially begins with the sight of the crescent moon. It's Islam's holiest month. One ministry believes this could be a strategic time to reach out to Muslims in your neighborhood.
Fouad Masri with Crescent Project describes the basics of the celebration. "Islam chose the month of Ramadan as a time to celebrate the giving of the Quran. It's a lunar month. So, it's basically 28 days. They are not allowed to eat or drink during daylight."
The Crescent Project is a ministry that's helping the west reach out to Muslims at home and around the world.
Masri says there appears to be two different ways Muslims observe Ramadan. "In the west, Ramadan is introduced as a month of fasting. But in the Middle East, Ramadan is introduced as a time of feasting, because you're supposed to be celebrating the coming of the Quran."
While Christians go to God in prayer any time and He hears them, Muslims believe there are only certain times they can be heard. Masri says, "Ramadan is one of those good times when you can ask God [for blessings]. If you practice Salaat, which is the ritual prayer, if you go to the mosque, if you finish the Quran, all these will bring you baraka, [or] will bring you blessing."
Ramadan is a time of trying to win the favor of Allah, says Masri.
Masri is asking Christians to begin praying for Muslims during the 28 days of Ramadan. Why? "Because they're thinking of God, let's pray that God will use that time to help them seek Jesus the Messiah. Then pray that these Muslims will meet Christians who will tell them about Christ."
Masri also is asking Christians to fast for Muslims around world and reach out to them. Since Muslims break their fast each day at sundown, Christians can use this time to invite Muslims over for a meal and use the Injil, or the New Testament, to teach them what Jesus taught about fasting. Masri says, "I don't want to be offending them, but at the same time I want them to hear the truth of Jesus. So I will just say, 'Did you know Christ said something about fasting?' Then I'd say, 'Read it — the most beautiful chapter in the Injil, the New Testament talks about fasting.'"
This could encourage other discussions about the difference between Islamic and Christian faith. Masri says, "The truth of Christianity is that we are set free by Jesus, not our works. The works that we do are a result of our faith. In Islam, it is the other way. You're doing work so that you can obtain salvation" — if they can get Allah to listen.
Mission Network News still has a few prayer guides available to encourage believers to pray for Muslims during Ramadan, and we can send them out quickly. When you receive a copy, you can begin praying through the days of Ramadan, then go back and pray over the days you've missed later.
Crescent Project has a program called Bridges, a small group Bible study that will help you learn how to reach out to your Muslim neighbors. Click here to get connected.