Thanks to everybody who has hung in there this month as the Ramadan posting has been sporadic at best. Today is Eid al-Fitr, the final day of Ramadan. Yesterday’s Cuma/Jom’e was “Preparing New Believers to Share their Faith Stories”. There is no one better equipped to share the Sewyewnchew of Isa with a Muslim than a Believer from their own culture. Of course, God can use anyone, but it is easier for a person who deeply understands the culture and they will be more sensitive to the recipient’s heart.
It is important to understand that for many Muslims, dedication to following Isa is seen (especially non-Believers) as a denial of not only their religion, but their culture, their community, their family, their very identity. Most Believers from Muslim backgrounds have given up much to follow the Messiah; their sacrifice is not something to be made light of. Your friend may very well face intense persecution for their allegiance to Christ. Be prepared to sincerely welcome your friend into the community of the local church. Sincerity is important here–be wary of the common western practice of making a vague invitation to do “something with you sometime in the future”–they will likely take you up on it–and sooner than you might have intended! Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Many Muslims (especially in Central Asia) have a more eastern philosophy of education than we have in the west. Discipleship will involve far more than the obligatory Bible study and book recommendations that we find in the west. It is important to truly model all aspects of the spiritual life and to be consistent in both your private and public life. Welcome your new brother or sister as part of your life and family.
You may also find that your friend has some theological misunderstandings of the Christian faith and doctrines, either from direct teaching or from pervasive Western media influence. Keep theological discussions grounded in Scripture and avoid bringing your own cultural preferences into play. In the west, we have recently been emphasizing the personal nature of a relationship with God. While there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, don’t forget that God is someone to be revered as well–your friend may be negatively surprised by how casually some in the west relate to God.
There are currently two schools of thought when it comes to Believers of Muslim backgrounds. The first is that they should embrace western Christianity and leave behind all aspects of their Muslim life. The second is that they should maintain their culture except where it contradicts the Gospel. I am not wise enough, nor well-informed enough on this issue to make any recommendation other than to pray about it and seek God together with your friend on this issue.
I’ll say it again. Pray with your friend! Pray with them for their concerns, praise God together, worship Him together. Live life together and model the life of following Christ.
To celebrate all that God has been doing in the hearts of Muslims everywhere during Ramadan, we actually have two recipes for Eid this year. The first is a nice main dish and the second is a dessert that you can bring to share if your friend happens to invite you to their Eid celebration. If you will be sharing a meal with practicing Muslims, be sure that all of your ingredients are halal.
Khoresh Rivas (Persian Lamb & Rhubarb Stew)
8 stalks of rhubarb–washed, dried and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 pounds of meat (lamb or beef), washed and cubed
1 large onion– peeled, finely chopped
1 bunch of parsley– remove the thick stems, wash and chop (makes about 2 cups, packed)
1 bunch of mint, leaves only, wash and chop (makes about 1 cup, packed)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
Vegetable oil/olive oil
- In a pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil and saute chopped onions until translucent. Add turmeric, stir, add the meat and brown on all sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for an hour on medium to low heat.
- In a medium-sized frying pan, saute the chopped parsley and mint together in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.Combine the parsley and mint mixture with the meat sauce half way through the cooking. Add water if necessary.
- Lightly saute sliced rhubarbs in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the rhubarb to the pot, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Taste and add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar or to taste, gently stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve warm with basmati rice.
Ranginak (Persian Date Cake)
1/2 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup corn oil
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
12 jumbo dates
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup ground pistachios
Fresh mint leaves (for garnish)
- In skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the flour is golden brown.
- Slowly pour the corn oil into the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mix is the consistency of a smooth paste.
- Stir in the cardamom and cinnamon. Set the mixture aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, make a lengthwise slit on one side of the dates. Remove the pits. Add the walnuts to the dates and press them along the slit to seal them.
- On a cake plate, spread half the flour mixture. Place a layer of stuffed dates on top. Spread remaining flour mixture on the dates. Sprinkle with pistachios and garnish with mint leaves.
*The picture appears to show wine. Please, don’t serve your Muslim friend any alcoholic beverages, it is forbidden in Islam! There are some non-alcoholic wines out there, typically sold as “Halal wine,” if you really want to have a festive beverage.