A Non-Muslim’s Visit to an Iftar

By Joshua Crawford, FAN intern

Joshua Crawford

Despite years of befriending and working alongside Muslims, I have rarely been invited to take part in Ramadan alongside my Abrahamic brothers and sisters. This year, my work with FAN has granted me the opportunity to do so. As part of FAN’s continuing efforts to follow the Franciscan command of peacemaking, expressed in Muslim-Christian dialogue, I have been blessed with regular invitations to iftars, or daily fast-breaking meals, in our local Muslim community. Now that Eid al-Fitr has passed and the holy month has come to a close, I felt the need to briefly put down in writing my experience of the iftar.

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At parts spiritually somber and at other parts joyous celebration, the iftar is an extraordinarily meaningful tradition, a uniquely Islamic one that can contribute much to any society that would embrace it. From a practicing Muslim’s point of view, it is approached with a sense of relief. The relief stems from the knowledge their abstention and self-denial will soon be over for the day. The spiritual part of the fast-breaking often seems like the last hurdle to cross before finally being able to comfort yourself with food and drink again.

But from a non-Muslim visitor’s point of view, the spiritual part of the iftar is a welcome jolt of closeness to God in a time and place when I wouldn’t normally have it. God comes to you in the obvious ways (through prayers both spoken aloud and thought, and through songs sung), but also in ways you might not expect, such as conversation with those who have been observing the fast. The trials that the fast has brought them throughout the day, the ways God has helped them cope with and overcome those trials, and ultimately what it all means for their lives and souls are explained to anyone with care to ask how it has been going for them. The stories they tell reveal mature spiritual insights, and make me want to take part so that I could have the same.

I am still far from those mature insights, but my experiences with the iftar this month have helped me make the progress I need. Like a dawn to dusk fast in the summertime heat, the hurdles I need to clear in my spiritual life are daunting. Achieving the spiritual instincts I saw displayed in my Muslim friends this month will be my own fast-breaking, assuming that I make it there. Once I have made it to that level of maturity, I hope to be able to relax with food and drink of a spiritual kind.

Mubarak Ramadan,
Joshua Crawford

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Published in: on July 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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