If you catch a glimpse of the Burrard Street bridge or Vancouver City Hall this coming Sunday, you’ll notice their lights are green signalling the start of Ramadan. Celebrated by Muslims observance of this holy month is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and involves daily fasting, prayer and scripture reading. Muslims believe all scripture including the scrolls of Abraham, Torah, Psalms, Gospel were originally penned during this month. Ramandan parallels the Lenten discipline of Aramaic Christianity.

This Ramadan is going to be different as the Muslim community around the world has its eyes on Gaza. This Ramadan Muslims are praying to God praying for justice and an end to the starvation, bombs, and ideologies that threaten their existence. How can their Christian neighbours build bridges of solidarity at this time?

This Ramadan, we can be agents of peace and hope embracing our neighbors who carry unbearable burdens of anguish as they witness the suffering among their people. It can start with prayer. You can join me in this prayer…

Our Father in Heaven, You are not deaf to the cries of your children. Awaken our souls to be moved to compassion. Jesus, beloved Bread of God, can you use us to resurrect neighborhoods of rubble, provide for starving mothers, and embrace frightened children? Lord in the chaos of these times we feel paralyzed but open my eyes to the one who you have placed in my path to love. Holy Spirit, give me boldness to attempt new things at Your prompting. I surrender my will, may your will be done, in my neighborhood, as it is in heaven. In the name of Jesus Amen.

Purpose in your heart the desire to be led to someone in need of hope. Here are a few things that you could do to communicate love and hope if that person is a Muslim neighbor, work colleague, a fellow student, or the spouse of one of your church members.

You might say “Peace be upon you. I understand it is the sacred month of Ramadan. I must admit that I don’t know much about it except that it is a month of spiritual renewal and seeking to be closer to God. I respect this noble endeavour. Can you tell me more about Ramadan?”

Listen for their spiritual heart, the desire for purification, forgiveness, and to honour God. Don’t feel that you need to witness. Compassionate listening for people in pain is more healing than compassionate speaking. Follow up with “Thanks for sharing. I wish you and your family God’s blessing as you seek Him.” You could add:

“As a believer and a follower of the Messiah, I am grieved over the loss of life and terrible devastation in Gaza. Do you mind me asking how this is affecting you? Do you know anyone affected in that area?”

If you feel impressed to pray, you could ask “Do you mind if I ask God for a blessing over the people of Gaza?” (In Islam the term prayer is salat and refers to a formal prayer). Instead say, “Can I ask God for a blessing?” And you put your hand in front of you open towards heaven, that signals a common understanding of prayer. If they welcome that, pray the Lord’s prayer, but when it says, may your will be done on earth, you can say, “among the people of Palestine.”

Further articles and ideas for fostering friendship with Muslims can be found at https://amfa4nad.org/

This article is based on writing from Gabriela Phillips, Director of Adventist-Muslim Relations.