Finding Grace in Ramadan: Day 7

A series of posts reflecting on my first Ramadan. Here’s why I decided to do it.

While eating my pre-dawn breakfast this morning (which consisted of fried eggs and Malt-o-Meal), I groggily checked my email on my iPhone.

I had to rub my eyes a few times, because my inbox was flooded with comments from my blog!

It seems that, literally overnight, my blog started to pick up an incredible flow of visitors. Thanks to reposts by Facebook friends, retweets by Twitter followers, and my inclusion on the Huffington Post Ramadan Liveblog, this blog started to reach a new audience, mostly of Muslims.

And I am overwhelmed by the response.

Every single response has been an outpouring of support, encouragement, and advice on how to succeed in this fast. I’ve received practical tips – drink lots of water, try cucumbers in yogurt, drink more water, stay away from red meat when breaking the fast, drink more water – as well as spiritual wisdom – try to break fast in community, make sure to take on extra disciplines of charity, reading of the Quran, and remembrance of God.

As the day wore on, I continued to receive kind and loving comments on this blog, and people continued to visit. I honestly didn’t expect that I would get this kind of response. In fact, I have to admit that I worried that some of my Muslim brothers and sisters might view this as nothing more than a “stunt,” a kind of ridiculous, self-serving ploy to draw attention to myself.

True, I wanted to draw attention to myself, but not for my sake, but for the good of my Muslim friends. I have been honestly troubled by the way some of my fellow Americans view and treat Muslims, especially since 9/11. I wanted to do something to help begin to change the perceptions and overthrow the prejudices.

But I never expected that, so far, my greatest experience in Ramadan would have been one of profound and humble … grace. I have received nothing but grace-filled responses from readers.

For all of my Muslim readers, the word “grace” is extremely important in my faith tradition. Methodists talk about grace all the time, because we believe it is the primary characteristic of God. We understand grace to mean that we receive the love and mercy of God through no merit of our own, but simply because of God’s great compassion and tenderness towards us as His children.

I was particularly blessed by my Quran reading today, when I read this verse: “And Allah is Lord of extreme grace” Al-Baqara 2.105.

All of you have shown great grace to me today. I am extremely thankful and grateful. Your words have inspired me to continue to be faithful to this fast, and to continue to seek nothing but blessings and peace between us.

Thank you.

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56 comments

  1. Aqib

    Wes,
    I just wanted to show my support and thank you for what your doing for the Muslims. I appreciate you bringing attention to the month of Ramadan and especially how you mentioned 9/11. A lot of Muslims have been mistreated due to 9/11 which is unfair. I hope this month brings you many blessing.

  2. Isa Cole

    We are all the family of Adam. This is the prerequisite for faith as everything else has no choice but a innate knowledge of the divine. As the family of Adam we should embrace all as our brothers and sisters regardless of faith. From there our close relative are the people of the book. Jews, Christians, Muslims. People whose traditions are entwined so intrinsically it is as though we are family who grew up in the same house knowing each other intimately. Like close family we squabble. But just like family this squabbling should be secondary to the love we should feel for one another. Dear Brother, your actions are teaching us all a better way. Your actions are teaching us how family should act towards one another. May you be rewarded with Gods Divine mercy for your efforts and may all of us become better servants of our Lord so that His mercy may shower down on us all. Ameen.

  3. Mohammed Ali Amla

    Wes I came across your blog on the Christian Muslim Forum Facebook page, I’ve been fondly reading your thoughts and reflections. Truly inspiring. I organise an annual sponsored fast titled Experiencing Ramadan, we have a different priest join us every year. If you lived in the UK would have been great to invite you to speak and reflect on your experiences of Ramadan. Maybe we could discuss how we could use modern technology?

    Please do visit our Facebook page and leave a message of support.

  4. Angela

    Only four more pillars left to complete. I believe you will take the shahada before long…I am an American Muslim living in Morocco that used to practice Christianity in many church settings, one being Methodist. Keep reading the Qu’ran…you will see that it is an extension of the Jewish and Christian faith. Nothing scary…just peace, love, unity, and Godliness without a lot of legalism. Go break your fast at the Mosque and pray taraweeh…nothing more beautiful!

    • Isa Cole

      Angela, Just because someone from another faith chooses to experience one of our practices shouldn’t be seen as a step towards it. I say this because if I was trying to understand my Christian Brethren better I would not like people to think I was moving away from my own beliefs. Please do not take this message as confrontational. I just don’t want the brother to be misconstrued by people within his own community and I think your comment might help confusion to arise. One of the Pillars separates Christians send Muslims. The others are just manifestations of Imaan. Peace be upon you

  5. Dali

    I”m one of the ones who stumbled upon this and am now sharing it. Touched by what you are trying to do and your dedication, and it makes me try to delve deeper with my own fasting. You wrote in an earlier post about how Muslims are able to fast because we do it as a community – so I urge you to break fast with your friends or at a community iftaar – that is another great experience!

  6. Sarah

    I love what you are doing. I am an American Muslim, converted to Islam from Christianity 13 years ago. I think you are seeing the beauty in Islam. Thank you for trying to understand Islam for what it is and not for what people (Muslims) can be. Please join your Muslim friends for Iftar, you are not alone in this!

  7. Yasmeen

    I was sent the link to your blog from a family member and have been reading your posts every day… and it has truly given me a different perspective of Ramadan and Islam. You make me cherish the religion that I was born into and you make me feel blessed that I have been given the opportunity of having Islam as my “way of life”. I feel like I always took the blessings and spiritual cleansing of Ramadan for granted, until reading your perspective.

    Your post today brought tears to my eyes… knowing that there are great people out there that support our Muslim Community. Imaam Yaseen is definitely an inspiring leader and we are so blessed that he shares his great insight with you.

    With gratitude,

    Yasmeen

  8. Meg Swaid

    Salaam wa alaikum brother Wes: I too am following this blog and in fact couldn’t wait to read the next post. Better than the movie Julie and Julia hahaha! Here’s my advice for today…remember to smile when you are fasting. Smiling during a fast is much more desireable than the look of suffering even though you are pretty uncomfortable.

  9. mohammad abubakar

    You just have followed the way of nabi ISA or Jesus peace and blessing be upon him…..he fast on ramadhans.. which christians sholud done too as to be true follower of Jesus….pbuh…

  10. hollyboardman

    I am learning a great deal about Islam as I read your blog and the comments. Thank you for what you are doing and sharing. To many American Christians, fasting–especially a long fast–seems like a a great burden and task. It is not generally seen as a gracious gift or a means of grace. Thank you for identifying the grace you are discovering through this undertaking.

  11. Ibrahim Mokwa

    From Nigeria with Love. Islam is for mankind and not for muslims alone.I love your wonderful broadmindedness, may Allah guide you. Amin

  12. jami

    Many of the best Christians I know come from the Methodist community. I admire the Methodist commitment to inclusion and charity.

  13. Zarah

    People like you are truly inspiring. You inspired me to be mindful of GOD even more. To ponder over HIS verses and to do more acts of worship to please HIM.

    Hope GOD makes it easy on you and reward you with HIS love,mercy,and guidance forever. All the best for the remaining days of Ramadhaan. Hope you can partake in eid festivities with your friends as well 🙂

  14. Jaiya

    I love your blog! I’m a Muslim who has Christian family members and they are enjoying it too! This is my first Ramadan as a convert to Islam and I can share some of your feelings! Keep up! God bless you!

  15. Samrah

    I just wanted to congratulate the Reverend on crossing the boundaries so successfully and really illustrating just how close the religions are and should be. Our sources and intentions are the same, a love of God and a desire to be close to Him and do His will, be it Christian or Muslim. As a Muslim in London, fasting for 18 hours is not easy but is my way of expressing love for God and to have a Christian Minister not only understand that but stand in solidarity with us makes me proud to be a human being. There is way too much hate in the world – thank you for taking us back to basics and reminding us that we are all God’s creation, it is not about the differences we should be focussing on the similarities 🙂 very well done !!

    Kind regards
    Samrah

  16. Zainab

    Reverend, your efforts are commendable. May Allah grant you the benefits and blessings of this Holy month, and by His grace and guidance, may you find the peace and tranquility you are searching for. I would like share with you a very powerful supplication many Muslims recite every night during this holy month, known as Dua-e-Iftitah.

    http://www.duas.org/iftitah.htm

    You will find many other vey powerful and moving supplications on the same site (duas.org).

    Praying for you to find the strength to continue the fasts, as well as for Allah to accept your sacrifice and bless you during this holy month.

    Ma’a salaam (With peace),
    Zainab

  17. Nazneen

    Wes
    Thank you for walking the walk. May God be with you and give you strength in body, mind and spirit. Through your words and deeds you remind us Muslims of what our faith is about. Love of the Almighty and love of your fellow mankind. We are all brethren of humanity. If you are ever passing through College Station, we would love to share in your company. Ramadan Mubarek brother.

  18. Balquis

    May Peace Be with you…Always..
    I am a Muslim, a liberal Muslim, and when I read your post…I felt tears rolling down my eyes…I felt your sincerity and sincerity is the utmost value that Muslims strive to uphold…
    “And remember Our servants Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq(Isaac) and Ya’qub(Jacob), men of true strength and inner sight. We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode .” The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 38, Verses 45-46
    May God/Allah/Yahweh…guides you to the straight path….Ameen..

  19. Imrana

    You are a strong man,not only physically but morally too. Fasting in Ramadaan is extremely hard for me,especially in the summer when the days are so long. May Allah accept this gesture of obedience from us. Siding with the underdogs is another tough thing to do,especially when it is against the popular culture. I pray that I keep fasting and always be on the side of justice and may you find the inner peace in all the good that you do.

  20. Anonymous

    Hello(: I’m a 15 year old Muslim at the Plano Musjid and I just wanted to say I think it’s really awesome that you are doing this, I’ve been fasting for years now and im used to it so I don’t always realize why I’m doing it and forget that I’m doing this to bring me closer to God but you have reminded me and for that I thank you(: and also I didn’t think you were doing this to draw attention to yourself I actually appreciate that you see what our religion is really about(: good luck with the rest of Ramadan and drink lots of water!

  21. Ayesha

    My 12 year old daughter and I have read your blog in awe and wonder and are humbled you have chosen to fast. Reading your posts are a reminder for myself and my family as to why we ourselves fast. We too at times forget why we fast, what the requisites for fasting are and what we are trying to attain by fasting.
    We wish you nothing but the best, and may your fasting bring you the same peace, calmness, spiritual tranquility and the love and closeness to our Creator as it does for me.

  22. Nadia

    What a wonderful idea. I look forward to reading more on the things you discover in this blessed month. I find that fasting in Ramadan often forces me to take a closer look at my weaknesses and at emotional burdens I’d been trying to bury within. It’s a great time of spiritual cleansing in that respect. Fasting makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us stronger. So if you should find yourself feeling agitated or a little depressed at any point… it’s all part of a great opportunity to heal old wounds or better understand who you truly are. I wish you a rich and fruitful journey through our faith.

  23. Nehal

    Wes, Most Muslims start out fasting a couple of Days in Ramadan as children. I applaud your courage to take on the full 30 Days of fasting on your first try. I truly wish that you will be able to feel spiritually enhanced by your experience.
    Every person’s physical & Spiritual benefit that comes from the fasting in Ramadan is unique. For me, the loss of eating & drinking is a smaller part of Ramadan than having to pray regularly and averting other misdeeds such as anger, lack of patience & loss of self control. It is all a part of a disciplining that one works over a lifetime to master. i.e.: I have fasted in Ramadan fairly regularly for 27 years and it is a little different every year.

  24. Samina Azhar

    “We understand grace to mean that we receive the love and mercy of God through no merit of our own, but simply because of God’s great compassion and tenderness towards us as His children.” – these words literally popped out of the blog and touched my heart. In the Quran, God has said that his Mercy precedes his wrath and what better example than the name “Rahim” which He gives himself – this name’s root word is “Rahm” which means ‘womb’. God ‘created’/’introduced’ this word in the Arabic vocabulary to show his extreme love for us. Rev Wes, you have arrived at God’s love far quicker than many of us aspire in a life time! Bless you.

    • samina Azhar

      Apologies – the name with the root in ‘womb’ is ‘Rahman’ and not ‘Rahim’ – both express his extreme compassion and mercy. And the best part is its an essential beginning to ALL prayers.

  25. Hanny

    Thank you and may God continue to bless you and guide you to Truth in whatever form it may take. I really appreciate your efforts to bring awareness to our religion. May the Grace of God be with you

  26. Wanda Holcombe

    Best wishes in your Ramadan spirit journey Wes. I appreciate so very much your doing this and sharing your experience. We are involved in Austin with various interfaith ministries and look forward to attending several break the fasting Iftars during Ramadan at the invitation of muslim colleagues at their mosques. I will be in Istanbul when Ramadan ends in August and look forward to celebrating with muslim colleagues who live there.

    Best wishes to all your family as well!!!

  27. Safaa

    May you receive many blessings, mercy, compassion, and acceptance of your efforts and intentions from the ONE, who created you, me, and all there is in this world and the universe.

    As you know, in the Quran, each chapter begins with the verse, “In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate”. For Muslims, all that we do begins and ends with the mercy and compassion of the creator.

    Reading your experience, restores my faith in humanity. May you always be graced by the mercy and compassion of God.

  28. Suzanne Dinkins

    I truly appreciate your sincerety sincerety and dedication in your pursuit. A couple of questions: Which God are you praying to – Jesus or Allah? They are not the same. Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) This is not meant to be devisive in any way. I wish the best for all people of any faith.

  29. Pingback: UM Pastor Observing Fast in Ramadan – For Neighborly Love | The Muslim Voice
  30. Maria

    Dear Wes, I was sent a link to your article about your plan to fast today and I have to say I was very pleased to see you made this step as a non-Muslim. I was brought up a a Christian (although I do not practice it), so I have both Christians, but also Muslims in my family, however everywhere around me (I live in Europe) i see the lack of respect among people of different religions and non-believers too. You try to make a difference openly and I thank you for that. Not many people do. Good luck!

  31. Farial

    God bless you. May you see the light and through your effort may our faith and Godliness increase too. Ramadaan is a beautiful time of reflection and humility and you will only benefit immensely. God bless.

  32. Hope

    God bless you. I’m from canada and I’m happy to see that there are still some people like you left on earth ..

  33. rahma

    Assalam alaikum…im so speechless upon reading this msg…i really admire his spiritual belief that once d soul crave for his food… religion isnt a problem but the faith in the existence of our Creator counts most…our love of God,sacrifices, forgiveness,compassionate to others being thankful as much as we could… is the real life n heaven…not money or material things…
    i admire the efforts of Pastor and i will pray for u too…
    im a converted muslim w/ different kinds of illness like hypertension diabetes n enlarge fatty liver..in Islam…i should be exempted in fasting n my friends advice to not to fast but i want to feed my soul n by fasting i could feel im a real muslim…w/ strong faith in my Allah n my religion…if it cause my death it’ all God’s destiny…i accept.
    my final words to everyone please try for day n feel God with in u…u feel life is so light n easy even full of problems…bcoz in Ramadan the gates of heaven,blessings grace n mercy are open…do it faithfully n u will receive Gods gift.

  34. Zaid Aysen (South Africa)

    May the Almighty Allah grant you Hidayat in accepting Islam as a way of life and all that it encompasses. As Suzanne Dinkins above so rightly said, accepting Jesus as God is in stark contrast to the ultimate belief of Muslims. We Muslims believe in a single God, Alone, Supreme, Almighty. We firmly believe that Jesus (or Nabi Eesa as he is referred to by Muslims) was a prophet like many prophets before and after him. Yes, he was born miraculously without a father but that does not in any way give him a remote likeness to Allah (God). This is the one ultimate distinction that everybody needs to be made aware of. Jesus is not God (islamically speaking). He was a man born from a virgin mother. Allah (God) has shown us many miracles throughout time. The birth of Jesus (Nabi Eesa) was one such miracle.
    With that being said though, I commend you for your efforts in trying to understand Islam. This is a quality most needed by people throughout the world.
    Assalaamu Alaikum (eace and blessings be upon you)

    • Fatima Abduraouf

      DEAR REVEREND, FATHER, PASTOR WES

      YOUR HEART IS CLEANSED – WALLAAHI – I ADMIRE YOU – IN THIS WORLD WHERE MANY MUSLIMS SUFFER UNDER ISLAMAPHOBIA – I TAKE MY HAT OFF TO YOU! MAY THE ALMIGHTY GUIDE YOU IN STRENGTH, LOVE AND MAY HE GRANT YOU MERCY. MAY HE PROTECT YOU TOO!

      FROM A MUSLIM SISTER – CAPE TOWN – SOUTH AFRICA

  35. Milly

    Dear Wes, you are truly an inspiration to us all. You have made an extremely courageous commitment toward solidarity with your fellow brothers and sisters in God. We may take different paths to God but our destination is the same. In this current climate of divisive political and religious commentary it is so refreshing to learn about your open hearted efforts at understanding others instead of focusing on the differences. Thank you for your leadership and I hope more brave souls across all cultures and faiths are able to follow your example. May God bless you and your family this Ramadan and always.

  36. Ruwayda

    I am deeply moved by your actions. Thank you for trying to understand Islam and for trying to bring togetherness to people of Christian and Muslim faiths. May Allah bless you always!

  37. Zarina

    Assalamu Alikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatu – May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you … and your family.
    I live in Cape Town, South Africa – emails about your observing Ramadaan and your blog have reached us here. I have friends of varying religions, creeds, colours – some of them have tried to fast for a day or 2 and struggled. Respect to you for keeping at it, I know it’s hard at the beginning. May Allah guide and protect you always InshaaAllah and if you ever set foot on South African soil, consider this a personal invitation to our community, to our home.

    Have a lovely day further.

  38. Millie Rivera

    If we embraced each other as brothers and sisters (all seeking to experience God, goodness, love; and all capable of compassion, kindess, and of embracing each other despite our different beliefs), our world would be very different. You are an example of what love can do… Although I am not a Muslim, I have been fasting since the start of Ramadam to support my Muslim loved ones, and it has been beautiful and humbling. It’s my first time, but it will definitely not be my last. Salaam!

    • Linda

      Your post reflects an answer to my prayer. This is my third year of fasting as a non-Muslim. The first two years I was completely on my own. I fast first for spiritual development, and am inspired by my Muslim brothers and sisters. This year I asked for community, and I am so grateful to see that it is here and growing.

  39. Muslim girl next door

    i love you people~ Pastor Wes and all you lovely people who are reading and commenting! you fill my heart with love and joy and hope and humbleness. I salute you!

    • Saeeda

      Insha Allah, Allah will make the last few days easy for you both spiritually and physically from a chilly but sunny South Africa.

  40. Pingback: A Pastor Fasts this Ramadan! | I Love Allah
  41. Yusuf Dockrat

    Wes. Well done my friend. You are learning about the islamic way of life. I am reading this out in south africa and make dua that Allah swt gives you and other Americans hidayaat (guidance) Ameen.

  42. Dedi Adhuri

    Dear pastor Wess,
    I am a muslim living at the other end of the world from your place, Indonesia. The news about your action reached my country trough online media and FB. I read your blog including all the comments to your nice way of expressing your experience and understanding Ramadhan and Islam. The ideas are nothing new, I learned it since my childhood, but reading it in your blog, it sounds different, much stronger and logical! I also appreciate your effort of bridging people of different faiths. Thanks for that. May God rewards you with happiness and strength.

    best regards,

  43. W.GALVAAN

    may GOD increase your knowledge and understanding of who HE really is…….IN-SHA-ALLAH…….CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA.

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