datesBy Rev. Nathan Wilson,

Ramadan, which will begin this year on July 9, is an especially important month in the Islamic calendar because it is believed to be the month when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, thus bestowing the revelations of God on humanity.

Observant Muslims, numbering more than a billion throughout the world, will gather throughout the month with family and friends, build community, pray for peace and evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. And they will fast.

While many religions, including Christianity, prescribe fasting at certain times, I frankly don’t know many Christians who fast very religiously. So just to be clear, my dear readers (most of whom are not Muslim), we aren’t talking about mild fasting. This isn’t your “I’ll skip a meal” or “I’ll give up pickled beets (which discerning eaters don’t touch anyhow)” and call it a fast.

No, for observant Muslims, Ramadan is a strict fast. Nothing is consumed during daylight hours. Not a sip of water. Not a piece of candy. Neither a morsel nor a crumb. Nada, zip, zilch — from sunrise to sunset.

The purpose of the fast is to help instill patience, self-sacrifice, spiritual cleansing, enlightenment and submissiveness to God.

It’s important to note that not all Muslims are required to fast. Islam allows exemptions for children, pregnant women, travelers and people with health conditions that could be threatened by such a fast.

For me, the importance and beauty of the Ramadan fast came alive five years ago. (Read the full article)

The Rev. Nathan Wilson is senior minister at First Christian Church in Shelbyville.

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