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31 March 2024

Easter during Ramadan 


CMS worker M serves in North Africa, where she teaches community health, works in a centre for children with disabilities, and shares Christ’s love alongside other missionaries. Here, she shares what it looks like to celebrate the true meaning of Easter during Ramadan, a time when Muslim people seek to do good deeds, to earn eternal life. 

This article is part four of our Easter series. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here.

 

The Festival of the Resurrection

Easter in Ramadan is an interesting experience. For Christians, our celebrations are somewhat muted, as everyone around us are spending their days fasting and their evenings in prayer. They believe their efforts will lead to the cancellation of some of their sins (the Muslim concept of sin differs from Christians’).

Easter, known as ‘The Festival of the Resurrection’ in Arabic, is largely unknown by locals. Last year, my vegetable seller was surprised by my extra-large purchases and taken aback by my explanation of Easter. Muslims are taught that God did not allow his prophet Jesus to suffer a shameful death on the cross. By denying Christ’s death, they have no understanding of the hope of his resurrection.

 

Exhausting dedication in Ramadan

Most North Africans live with the burdensome feeling of debt of wrongdoing. My friend Khadija* expresses this as a scale weighing her good deeds against her bad deeds. At the end of her life, she hopes that her good deeds will outweigh the bad and she’ll be able to enter paradise. Ramadan is about adding to the good side of the scale: spending the days fasting from food and water (and cigarettes and sex) and the nights in extra prayer.

As I witness the exhausting dedication of my friends each Ramadan, I’m increasingly thankful for the forgiveness we have through Christ’s death. My Muslim neighbours are right to be concerned about their bad deeds. Our sin condemns us all. However, as Colossians 2 reminds us:

“He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

Colossians 2:13b–14

What a privilege to know this forgiveness and celebrate it.

 

How I will celebrate Easter this year

This Easter Sunday, I’ll gather with my small team of missionaries to sing praises, read Luke 24, pray, and share an evening meal together (so that we don’t insult fasting neighbours with daytime cooking smells). The five of us are the only adult believers I know in my region. While we rejoice together, we also grieve for the thousands surrounding us who are pointlessly labouring, trying to ‘tip the scales’ in their favour.

I’ll also be visiting friends for their evening meal to break the fast. Please pray that I’ll be able to share the gospel with them, and that many North Africans will join us in celebrating the forgiveness only Jesus brings.

*Name changed for security reasons. 

 

GO

The people of North Africa desperately need to hear that salvation from sin is found in Christ alone. Has God placed on your heart a desire to join M in proclaiming this good news? Contact your local branch to start a conversation today.