"Each participant brings their own unique touch – some fasting for the whole month, others for a day, and some not at all. Others are using the opportunity to raise money for charity, including persecuted Christians and Muslims abroad."My practice is similar to Julian's. I rise before dawn, read the Quran as well as the Bible, and I recite the Fatihah (the opening prayer of the Quran) as well as the Lord's prayer. These two prayers are foundational for both faiths and are surprisingly compatible. The Fatihah contains nothing that a Christian couldn't agree with, and the Lord's prayer contains nothing that a Muslim couldn't agree with. When I was in Kenya, I met a Muslim iman who was asked to give a prayer at an interfaith gathering and recited the Lord's Prayer. Incidentally, his name was Issa, the Arabic word for Jesus. When I asked Issa how he felt about Jesus, he replied enthusiastically, "As a Mulsim, I love Jesus. He is one of God's messengers, like the Prophet Mohammad." As a Christian, I feel that Jesus is more than a prophet, but I am glad my Muslim brother honors and loves Jesus. I try to reciprocate by showing respect for Mohammad and his followers.
It is not enough to simply read about Islam, Ager says, but we need to engage with one another on a personal level. Fasting alongside each other "provides an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to support one another through a shared physical experience, one which has the core aim of bringing about spiritual change for the better," she adds, noting that abstaining from food for prayer is a tradition shared by both Christians and Muslims. Interfaith activist and former director of the Christian Muslim Forum, Julian Bond, was one of the early adopters of the Christians for Ramadan movement. He has chosen to fast on three separate days over Ramadan on behalf of a Muslim friend who is unable to do so due to health problems. He is also reading the Quran, and tweeting a verse from it each day. He wants to "engage as deeply as possible" with those of other faiths, he says, to combat stereotypes – particularly of Muslims – which have been growing since 9/11. "It's about being able to speak from an informed position to encourage others, that they don't have to go as far as me, but if they want to – it's safe," he adds. "It's about building relationships with other people".
I honor the Muslim faith by reading the Quran not to refute but to understand and appreciate it. I don't agree with everything I read, especially parts relating to war. I also question certain passages in the Bible that seemingly promote violence. In both Scriptures, I find wisdom and truth about the nature of a loving God who calls us to live together in peace..
As a Christian, I see Jesus as the ultimate embodiment of God's love and the guide for my life. As a Quaker, I also see "that of God" in other people and faiths and feel called to a ministry of reconciliation--reconciling people in conflict, and reconciling God and God's children.
I was pleased to see the Christianity Today, an Evangelical Christian publication, ran a series of reflections by Christians addressing the question I posed as the title for this blog. Most seem to feel that fasting with Muslims is a good thing, if we do it for the right reasons and don't equate Christianity with Islam. We are all created by, and worship, the same God, and share many ethical values, but we have theological differences that shouldn't be minimized or discounted. But whatever our theological perspective, it is worth taking to heart what Rick Warren said when he was the keynote speaker at the Muslim Public Affairs Counsel:
"I love Muslims, I love Jews, I love gays, I love straights, I love Republicans and I love Democrats because Jesus Christ commanded me to love."
That summarizes for me in a nutshell what it means to be a Christian. I would add only that we are not only commanded to love, we are also created to love since we are made in God's image and God is love.