(The Old City Lit up with Ramadan Lights)
(The red snakey lights say "Allah" in Arabic)
Ramadan is a large (maybe the largest) holiday in the Muslim world. During the whole month of Ramadan Muslims fast from sun up to sun down and only eat early in the morning before the sun comes up and late at night after it has gone down. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and trusty wikipedia says that
"Fasting during this month is often thought to figuratively burn away all sins. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was sent down to the earth during this month. Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell would be closed".
We belong to a church that also encourages fasting, but for a 24 hour period once a month on what we call "Fast Sunday". We fast because we reap personal and communal spiritual blessings from it. We feed the spiritual self as opposed to our physical self to demonstrate our commitment to the idea that our spiritual self can conquer the fallen physical self and we can be more spiritually in tune to God's will. On this day we share our testimonies of the gospel and give offerings to the poor.
Fasting is hard for me.
Not the idea of it, which I think it beautiful, but the physical part of it. I get loopy and light headed and try and make all kinds of excuses to myself for why I can't (and shouldn't!) fast, but it's all hooey. It's just a hard thing.
Observing these Muslims go about their day, every day for a month, not eating or drinking in sweltering weather, often times covered from head to toe, walking everywhere with bags and children in toe is pretty awe inspiring to me.
It's a great feeling to be in the land where Jesus walked, but it is also amazing to be surrounded by people observing their faith so fervently, both Jews and Muslims alike.