In the Middle East, Christians even host iftars.
For most American Christians, Ramadan is a novelty; something heard of, but rarely seen. For Middle Eastern Christians, it is everywhere.
For some, it is an annoyance. The month-long fast from sunrise to sunset can make for a cranky Muslim neighbor. Productivity tends to slow. Religiosity tends to rise.
But for other believers, it is an opportunity.
“The Evangelical Church of Maadi wishes all Egyptians a generous Ramadan,” proclaimed the flowery banner hung in the southern Cairo suburb. Such signage is not uncommon (and Muslims also display Merry Christmas wishes for Christians). But saluting “all Egyptians” is a statement.
“I want our brother Muslims to feel that we are one, and it will make him happy in his heart,” said pastor Naseem Fadl. “We both celebrate Ramadan.”
Beside the need to have good relations with Muslims, Fadl also emphasized his biblical obligations. “Our faith tells us to love everyone,” he said. “And when we reach out to others, we teach them about ourselves.”
Across the Middle East, Christians join in the festive spirit—often by hosting an iftar, the traditional fast-breaking dinner. They also refrain from eating and drinking in front of Muslims, said Rafic Greiche, a priest and spokesman for Egypt’s Catholic community.
Catholic churches often join in the tradition of Ma’idat al-Rahman, providing public community meals for the poor, he said. The “Table of the Most Merciful” employs a favored Muslim name for God, emphasizing the importance of charity.
In Palestine, the iftar provides opportunity for better understanding, said Salim Munayer, executive director of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry.