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It was late morning and a few mums were sitting outside on a couple of benches.
Fareedah was feeding her one-year-old daughter spoonfuls of rice as she played around us. Another neighbour saw us sitting there as she came home from the market and stopped to sit with us for a few moments. There was a bit of a breeze and it was pleasant outside, even though it was hot again today.
Each of them had been up at 2 am this morning, cooking rice and some simple food for the pre-dawn meal. After they had eaten and performed the first prayers of the day they’d probably gone back to sleep for a few hours, but now everyone was awake again and chatting.
Fareedah asked me if I was fasting. ‘No, I decided not to this year.’ She didn’t ask me about why not; my neighbours never ask me questions about my faith. But she looked relieved as she told me she wasn’t today either. It was difficult with her little daughter still breastfeeding and so energetic. If she didn’t eat she got migraines. Her husband told her not to worry about it, she could make up the required days later in the year, but it was much harder fasting by yourself on occasional days than it was to fast together with everyone else during this special month.
Our neighbour chipped in at that point, telling us that she had fasted right through all three of her pregnancies, and breastfeeding, and had no trouble. I intervened diplomatically, reminding them that everyone’s bodies and experiences are different.
Another mum reminded Fareedah that she could just make the extra cash or rice payment for the days she missed. Fareedah shook her head: it isn’t the same that way.
We sat in silence for a while and the others wandered off back to their housework. Fareedah said quietly, “The main thing I regret is that if I’m not fasting my husband doesn’t break his fast at home. He goes and sees his friends. We are supposed to break the fast together, as a couple, as a family.”
‘It’s only one more week, Fareedah,’ I encouraged her. ‘Maybe you will be able to fast all the remaining days. Remember that God sees our hearts and our good intentions. Perhaps you should talk to him about your regrets.’
From a follower of Jesus in Southeast Asia.
- Pray for people like Fareedah who recognise that they are not meeting the standards that they believe Allah requires of them.
- Pray for followers of Jesus to have opportunities for good conversations with their Muslim neighbours and friends during Ramadan.
Find more prayer points for Ramadan in our ‘Pray Through Ramadan’ resource.