Differences and Similarities between the Muslim Season of Ramadan and the Christian Season of Lent
Religion is a very important aspect of our life. All the religions are good and unique. I think that religion is very personal choice and nobody has the right to make pressure in order to influence it. The religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitutional law and can’t be limited or neglected. The main aim of the Church is to unite people, to bring peace to the earth. It’s very painful for me that sometimes exactly religion is the reason of wars and conflicts. I have a strong determination that religion mustn’t judge the representatives of other confessions. Islam and Christianity are among the world’s major religions and there are a lot of things, which make them alike, but there are a lot of things, which are quite different. I will compare one of the main Islamic celebrations – Ramadan and Christian Lent. They both have common idea, which unites them. Both, Ramadan and Lent include fasting. Fasting is an old practice, present in almost all world religions. In both, Islam and Christianity fasting has a religious meaning. It aims to bring up self-control, purifying of body and mind and making a sacrifice to God. The wording can differ, but the sense is the same. In early Christianity there were several periods of fasting during the year.
In addition, people fasted on Fridays to give honor to Christ who was crucified on Friday. Lent is a period of fast before Easter, which lasts for 40 days. Its main purpose is to make people remember about the suffering of Christ and his sacrifice to the entire mankind. Latest changes, performed by the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century have reduced the number of fasting days to two. These days are Ash Wednesday, which’s the first day of the Lent and Good Friday – its last day. In Christian Lent restriction is widespread only to certain products, such as meet and some other, but there are no restrictions on the amount of food and time to eat. In general, Christian approach to Lent is much more democratic, than to Ramadan in Islam. Fasting during Lent is very often left to individual choice, while in Islam the abstention from good and drink is obligatory during the entire period of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a period of month, during which Muslims fasten and don’t it from dusk till sunset. They believe God gave the Holy Book (Quran) to Muhammad during this month. They also believe that it was Allah’s will passed to them through Muhammad to fasten. Muslims fastens from dawn till sunset during one month. They don’t eat, drink, don’t smoke and refraining martial relationship during the light hours. Everybody should keep these rules. Exceptions can be made only for old, sick people and children who can do other actions instead of fasting.
Lent and Ramadan have different meanings and different forms of manifestation. Lent is a season of “Bright Sadness”. Its main function is to help people to identify with Jesus and his good deeds to the mankind. It’s a time to honor great sacrifice done by the Son of God, reflect on his death and sufferings for the sake of all humans.
Ramadan is also meant to make the Muslims remember about the teachings of Islam, abstain from violence, envy, anger, greed and gossip. It’s a month dedicated to the passing the Quran to people. It’s a holiday of obedience and gratitude.
Lent and Ramadan both have abstinent as their basis but it’s manifested in different forms. Fasting during Lent includes abstinent from some food products, such as meat, fish, eggs and milk products. The time of the meals isn’t restricted. During Ramadan no food products are prohibited (except for pock, which is traditionally excluded from their ration during the whole year) but the time of meal is limited. People can eat, drink and smoke only before dusk or after sunset. Traditionally, such a practice is designed to free more time for religious meditations and reflections.
In comparison to Lent, in Muslim countries the pressure to fast and keep other restrictions is much stronger. Muslims can be fined or expelled from work for not keeping the fast.
Lent traditions became much softer in comparison to ancient times and are usually left to personal considerations of the people. There is no such high pressure from the society and the Church as in Muslim countries.
Like we see, Lent and Ramadan have a lot of differences but there is one thing, which unites them except for fasting. They both have one main function – to make the people remember about their religious heritage, give them opportunity for self-perfection and self-improvement.
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