By a former missionary to the Middle East — On June 4, Ramadan—the Muslim month of fasting—came to an end with a big celebration called Eid al-Fitr (Arab world) or Eid e Ramazan (Persian world). This celebration is long-awaited, and for many Muslim men it continues for at least three or four days. Celebrations for Muslim women, who usually cook for and host the male guests for the first three days, generally start on the fourth day and then can continue for several more days. Friends and relatives visit each other, give gifts, and eat lots and lots of food!
If you ever wondered when would be a good time to make a first visit to a Muslim family, this is that time. Everyone in the community gets swept up in the celebrations, whether they were able to keep the fast or not, and they will be much more relaxed than during the previous 30 days!
Greet your friends with “Eid-Mubarak” which means “Happy Holiday” or “Blessed Holiday,” and perhaps bring a small bag of candy or a small cake. Be careful on bringing more than a small gift, as that could make your host feel that they need to reciprocate with a gift back to you!
If the occasion permits, perhaps you could follow up on the “blessed” aspect of your greeting. Jesus used that same word “blessed” or “happy” over and over again in Matthew 5: 3-12, in the Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. It was a challenging, counter-cultural teaching then and remains so today.
Maybe you could try reciting or reading a few of these verses to stimulate a spiritual conversation. Ask your friends what it means to be merciful. And who will show them mercy? What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? And who will fill them? Let them try to wrestle with and answer some of these questions before you jump in to answer them. Let the questions and the answers lead to Jesus, but don’t feel that you have to answer everything in one visit. Perhaps ask them to think about some of the questions and ask their friends, and then you could come back to have another conversation later.
Just the beginning
Expect to drink lots of tea or coffee during your visit, depending on where your host is from, and feel free to ask questions about their family and their traditions and why they fasted for the previous month. Talk about times you have fasted and prayed and how and why it was important to you.
In the course of conversation, consider asking if they have had a recent dream about Jesus and ask if there is anything that you can pray for them about, because you believe that God hears and answers prayer. And then take a few minutes to pray with them right there and tell them that you will continue to pray for these requests in the days to come.
Before you leave, ask if you can come back and see how they are doing in a week or so. You might want to keep a journal at home and later write down the topics you talked about after the visit. We want to be intentional in our interactions with our friends; otherwise we can end up being sidetracked and just always having polite but general conversations.
As part of the 10/10 Prayer Initiative, 180 agencies have come together to ask God to draw to himself 10 percent of the world’s Muslims in the next 10 years. 10/10. Easy to remember, yet such an amazingly big task that only God can do it. Will you join us?
- For those working with Muslims to have good intentional conversations during these days of Eid.
- For Muslims to realize the futility of fasting each year to earn God’s favor.
- For Muslims to understand that they can have a personal relationship with God.
- For Muslims to accept that God’s grace is a gift that cannot be earned by their own efforts.