The end of Ramadan—the Islamic month of fasting—was nearing. So when I recently sat down with my friend Hasana, we naturally started talking about the upcoming feast at the end of the month. We talked about our favorite feast foods, all the people we’ll visit, and the parties we’ll attend during the three-day holiday.
Hasana is saving up money to buy new outfits for each of her children as well as a new veil for herself. Like other local women preparing for the feast, she also wants to get her hair done. That would involve a visit to the neighborhood hair salon and getting artificial hair extensions.
“But out of respect to God, Muslim women shouldn’t braid artificial hair,” Hasana said.
She explained that the tight braids would keep water from rinsing over every part of her scalp and hair while washing before prayer. And that meant she wouldn’t be clean enough to pray properly. God wouldn’t accept her prayers. They’d be worthless.
We also talked about the days of fasting that Hasana had missed during this Ramadan.
Muslims are allowed to miss days of fasting if they are traveling or get sick—as long as those days are made up before the start of the next Ramadan. Women are also exempt from fasting if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Additionally, the Qur’an teaches that women are not to pray or fast when they are menstruating. Consequently, most Muslim women of childbearing age will miss several extra days of fasting—days they will have to “pay back” before the next Ramadan.
Last year, Hasana missed almost two weeks of fasting due to illness. Like most Muslim women in our community, she waited to make up those extra days until just before the start of this year’s fast.
“We like to fast together,” Hasana explained. “it’s easier to pay back our fast days if we do it together.”
Hasana and other Muslim women desperately need to know that the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse them from all sin (1 John 1:7).
They need the truth that they have nothing to pay back. Because of the Father’s great love for them, they can be washed, sanctified, and justified in “the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
I long for the Muslim women around me to rejoice in the freedom of Christ who “saved us, not because of the works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
**This account comes from a long-term worker. Names and places have been changed for security.**