Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, begins on 22 or 23 March 2023. With our focus on East Asia, why does Ramadan matter for OMF?
It’s because East and Southeast Asia are home to over 287 million Muslim people. That is more than in the whole of the Middle East.
For these Muslims, Ramadan is one of the most significant months of the year. Here are three reasons why:
1. Five pillars
Observing Ramadan is part of what it means to be a Muslim. Sawn (fasting) is one of the five things all adult Muslims must do. The Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, set out these five pillars.
Sawm is a complete fast from food and drink from dawn till sunset every day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe the Qu’ran was first revealed to Muhammad during Ramadan.
The whole community comes together to observe the fast. It’s not about individual resolve but a collective effort.
The fasting month reinforces the strong sense of community Muslims feel – both in their local area and the Ummah, the global Muslim community. Plus, each day ends with a communal fast-breaking meal.
3. Rewards and understanding
Talking to Muslim people will probably reveal a range of motivations and benefits they get from observing the fasting month. One of these is increased self-control. One book on Islamic teaching says, ‘the very purpose of fasting is to enable a Muslim to control his passions so that he becomes a person of good deeds and intentions.’ Other benefits include a growing understanding of life for poor and hungry people. This understanding helps the Muslim community to support them better.
Ramadan is also a time to seek blessings from Allah. Attendance at daytime prayers and Qur’anic recitals often increases during Ramadan. Many Muslims also believe fasting multiplies spiritual rewards.
Because it’s a significant time of year for Muslims, it’s important to us at OMF. We want to be blessing Muslims, and part of this is understanding who they are, what they believe and how we can build deeper friendships with them.
– Join us in prayer for God to bless the Muslims of East and Southeast Asia during Ramadan with our daily prayer calendar.
Find out more about how you can be a blessing to your Muslim neighbors at this time: omf.org/east-asia/asias-muslims/about
Explore more resources and prayer materials on websites including Prayercast.com, HowtoPrayforMuslims.org, pray30days.org.
OMF International Stories Coordinator
1. Ghulam Sarwar, Islam: Beliefs and Teachings (London, 2014), p.73.