Finding Peace at the Heart of Islam
HomePortalFAQRegisterLog in
~Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem~ Salam Alaikum, Welcome sisters and brothers, Muslim and Non-Muslim friends! Come learn and share with us.

Share | 

 Understanding the Ramadan Experience through the Eyes of a Catholic Christian

Go down 
Obedient Angel

Join date : 2011-04-30
Posts : 2448

PostSubject: Understanding the Ramadan Experience through the Eyes of a Catholic Christian   Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:10 am

Understanding the Ramadan Experience through the Eyes of a Catholic Christian

By: Aydan Green

I often hear that it is impossible for Christians to understand the beauty that Muslims experience during Ramadan. Then three years ago I decided to fast for Ramadan but before I get into that let me start from the beginning.

Although I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as a baby, I grew up as an agnostic. I knew God existed, but I knew almost nothing about God. Fast-forward to September 11, 2001 after witnessing the worst terrorist attacks on my nation my own mortality was very clear to me. The first thing I wanted to find out was who were these people calling themselves Muslim and did their religion really teach them to kill non-Muslims. I got in touch with one of my professors who traveled all over the world because I knew he had knowledge about Islam. He explained to me that Islam does not teach Muslims to kill non-Muslims. He arranged for me to get a Quran which he later gave to me after it was donated by one of our local mosques. A few weeks later I met up with some students from The Muslim Student Association at my university and they gave me a brief explanation of the five pillars of Islam. At one point I considered becoming Muslim but once I learned about Catholicism I chose to become Catholic. Even though I did not want to become Muslim anymore I never really lost interest in learning more about Islam. Every year during Ramadan the Muslim Student Association organizes a day where non-Muslims pledge to fast in solidarity with Muslims. For every non-Muslim who pledges to fast businesses agree to donate money to help feed the poor in our community. For two years we had a huge group of Catholics from my church participate in this so I knew we could fast during Ramadan. But my friends made me do Catholic fasting because they were afraid that it would be medically dangerous for me to fast like Muslims.

Then in 2005 I met one of my closest friends named Benjamin. Within a few months of meeting him he went to Turkey for the first time to learn the Turkish language. When he left I knew absolutely nothing about Turkey. While he was in Turkey he would tell me things about Turkey and by the time he returned to the United States three months later I had developed my own deep admiration for Turkey and I decided that I would learn the Turkish language too. I decided to fast for my first Ramadan three years ago because my Turkish class was being taught during Ramadan. Initially I wanted to do it as a sign of solidarity with my teacher since he would be fasting. After checking with my church and getting medical clearance saying that it was not medically dangerous for me to fast like Muslims I embarked on my first Ramadan.

After just fasting two hours on the first day I had a deep spiritual experience it felt really good to be fasting as a sacrifice to God. By the end of the day I could not believe how much I had changed spiritually and how it changed the way I looked at things. The best part of Ramadan is that I get to share a very unique experience with those who participate in Ramadan. This experience cannot be put into words you must participate in Ramadan in order to understand this feeling. I loved Ramadan so much I decided I would try to fast during Ramadan every year. During my first Ramadan I focused on learning how to fast. By the time I fasted for my second Ramadan I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the meaning of Ramadan and its importance to Muslims. I read the entire Quran and about the meaning of Ramadan.

I often get asked how I can participate in Ramadan without compromising my Catholic faith and the answer is very simple. I use my Catholic faith to help me celebrate Ramadan in my own special way. To do this I look to the Catholic catechism and the actions of church leaders such as Pope John Paul II who led by example because he always respected Islam and interfaith dialogue without compromising his own Catholic faith. For instance he said this about Islam "The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth" (§3). As a result of their monotheism, believers in Allah are particularly close to us. We embrace those who believe in God, against the secularists, and we share a regard for the subsistent, merciful, omnipotent Creator" (

My view on Prophet Mohammed is also shaped by church teachings. Even though Catholics don’t except Prophet Mohammed as a prophet the church allows us to call him Prophet Mohammed as a sign of respect. I believe that Catholics can learn a lot from Prophet Mohammed. This thought process is explained in more detail by a Catholic priest in this video:

Unfortunately there are many Catholics who do not share that view like I do.

The other reason I fast for Ramadan is that fasting comes from both Catholic tradition and in the Bible itself. "The rules for fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church are set forth in the Code of Canon Law (for the Roman Catholic Church) and in the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (for the Eastern Catholic Churches). To a limited extent, they can be modified by the conference of bishops for each particular country (or, in the Eastern Churches, for each particular rite).

The Code of Canon Law prescribes (Canons 1250-1252):

Can. 1250: The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the
season of Lent.
Can. 1251: Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252: The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Matthew 6:16-18
16. "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
17. "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face
18. so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

These are the fasting rules for Roman Catholics in the United States:

Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 years old and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent. Fasting as explained by the U.S. bishops means partaking of only one full meal. Some food (not equaling another full meal) is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening-depending on when a person chooses to eat the main or full meal.

Abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat.
Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are not forbidden.


For Catholics, Lent is a time of repentance and turning back to God. It has always been an exciting time for me since I spent so many years as an agnostic. Even though Ramadan is very different from Lent I still have that same amazing feeling that comes from seeking forgiveness and turning back to God. This is why Ramadan is so special to me. God willing I hope I will be able to fast for many more months of Ramadan in the years to come.

Back to top Go down
Understanding the Ramadan Experience through the Eyes of a Catholic Christian
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» What the recommended and significant acts of worship in Ramadan?
» Open eyes Vision
» a baby with 3 eyes
» Understanding Prophetic Dream....
» Help Guide on Understanding Symbolism~Part 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
The Islamic Haven :: Islam and the World :: Islam and People of the Book-
Jump to: