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23 April 2019

Frying, Washing, Waiting: Adyan’s Ramadan Story

“Let me tell you about what Ramadan is like for my Muslim neighbor and friend Adyan.

The days of the fasting month are even harder work for her than all the other days of the year. With a quiet husband who has struggled to find work, the burden of finding money to feed her family of four children falls largely to her. Thankfully she had good health and is a hard worker. She is shrewd too, a careful wife and mother, so they have survived this far, and now their eldest son is working too.

During the fasting month, Adyan pulls out all the stops and sells snacks for the breaking of the fast each evening, this is on top of the two jobs she held down washing clothes and cleaning at local boarding houses. It means she has to go very early to the market each day to buy the ingredients she needs, and spends hours frying batch after batch of fried snacks in a huge wok of boiling oil.

The days go by in a slow blur, waking a long time before dawn to cook breakfast for the family, shaking the children awake in time to eat before the sunrise, going to the first boarding house to work for a few hours, returning home to do her own housework and get the children ready for school, before starting work on food preparation. And so it goes on throughout the day. Back to the boarding house. Back to school to collect the children. The work doesn’t stop apart for the few hours she sleeps each night.

She is 45 now and feels less strong than she used to be. Her back aches after the afternoon’s ironing work and her eyes feel stretched and tired. But she is driven on by the need to earn enough money to travel home to visit her family for celebrations at the end of the fasting month. She has been looking forward to it all year, hoping against hope that this year she will be able to afford it.

Two years ago she had gone home, taking her two younger children for a precious week at the village. She had seen her sisters, heard all the news, and enjoyed the pleasure of family. When she left, it was in the knowledge that she wouldn’t see them for another year. But it had turned out to be two years because last year money had been too short, so she’d sent her eldest son alone on his motorbike for the long, long journey. He had taken money for the family there – the amount she could have spent on the bus ticket, plus a little bit more she had saved. She hopes and prays that this year she will go herself.”

From a local follower of Jesus in Southeast Asia.

Will you pray for East Asia’s Muslims?

For women like Adyan, their workload during Ramadan can be particularly heavy. Many will rise very early (perhaps as early as 2am) to prepare a meal before dawn. The daylight hours may largely be spent preparing food, either for the breaking of the fast or to sell, alongside their usual responsibilities.

Lord, as you did with Mary and Martha in Luke 10, please would Muslim women, whether they tend toward activity or contemplation, come to know of your love.

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