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One Way to Share the Gospel During Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide are praying, fasting, and reading the Qur’an in hopes of drawing near to God and earning their way to heaven. Islam requires adherents to pray five times a day, and during Ramadan there are six daily prayers. These are preceded by a ritual washing, or wudhu. Supplicants rinse hands, mouth, nose, face, ears, arms up to the elbow, hair, and feet, typically three times.

For Christians hoping to share Jesus with Muslim friends, this ritual presents an opportunity for gospel conversations.

Perspectives on Purification

Islam emphasizes purity and cleanliness. Famously, the prophet Muhammad is quoted in one Hadith saying, “Purity is half of faith.” Surrounding verses go on to say being pure and clean fills one’s record of good deeds before God and gets him or her closer to earning a place in heaven. Purity is part of Islam’s complicated works-based salvation structure.

Furthermore, many Muslims believe that if they pray without performing purification rites, their prayers are invalid. Wudhu not only counts as a good deed toward earning salvation but also makes one’s prayers acceptable to God.

Ritual washing is believed to remove sin—it’s not merely symbolic. Muslims believe making wudhu performs an atoning function. For example, if you tell a lie but later swish water around in your mouth as a form of ritual washing, it’s as if you never lied.

This teaching is incompatible with Scripture, but we can draw parallels between wudhu and the biblical concept of cleanliness. The very things that make wudhu opposed to the gospel also open doors to share the gospel.

The very things that make wudhu opposed to the gospel also open doors to share the gospel.

The Bible is insistent about our need for purification. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people were called to purify themselves in various ways: sometimes by abstaining from sex (Ex. 19:14–15; Lev. 15:16–24), other times by ritual washing (Ex. 30:17–21) or blood sacrifices (Lev. 4; Heb. 9:13). God often used the picture of outward cleansing to highlight our need for spiritual cleansing.

From Genesis to Revelation, the metaphor of cleansing describes our salvation, justification, sanctification, and glorification. First John 1, Titus 2, and Hebrews 9 all explain how the shed blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sin. Isaiah famously prophesied, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18). There’s a washing that can remove our sin.

Wudhu and the Gospel

Islam borrows from the truth of Scripture and twists it to its own ends, but the basic seed of truth remains. This means we can use cleansing-based vocabulary to share with Muslim friends. The saying “Purity is half of faith” is incorrect, especially when applied outwardly. There’s no amount of physical washing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God.

Instead, we’d say purity is the whole of faith, and our core problem is spiritual impurity. Our unclean hearts have separated us from God and earned us eternal punishment. What earns us heaven is, in fact, cleansing. But it can’t be performed with a handful of water.

Our prayers, too, must be made acceptable before God—but not by washing our hands. We’re only free to approach the throne of grace if we’ve been cleansed by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:22). This spiritual, eternal washing presents us to God as heirs and allows us to speak to him as our Father.

The best purification agent isn’t water but blood. It doesn’t come from a spigot but from the body of Christ. Its price is paid not in a utility bill but with the priceless life of the Son of God. Christians, like Muslims, believe we all need cleansing. But we know the truth that nothing can clean our souls—nothing but the blood of Jesus.

And the news gets better. While a Muslim must wash every time he prays, Christians need only be washed once. Once God makes us clean, nothing can ever defile us again. Human cleansing is temporary; divine cleansing is eternal. We need not fear that our sin will erase the purity God gives us. We need not strive to accumulate brownie points to impress God. We need not wash and work to make our prayers acceptable. In Christ, our sin is wiped away forever.

Start the Conversation

Now we understand the parallels, let’s turn to the conversation. If you don’t have a strong relationship with a Muslim coworker or neighbor, a great first step is to invite him or her over for dinner. (Make sure the meal is free of pork, alcohol, and other foods Muslims avoid. If it’s during Ramadan, wait to serve food or drink until after sundown.) You might use the questions below to start a spiritual conversation during the meal. Or you can use dinner as a first step and pursue a deeper conversation later.

The best purification agent isn’t water but blood.

If you have an established relationship with a Muslim friend, you can open a conversation with respectful questions. You might say, “I hear Ramadan is coming up, what does that look like for you?” or even, “I recently read an article about wudhu. Is this something you practice? Can you explain it to me?”

After listening carefully, simply ask permission to share. You might turn the conversation by saying something like this: “It sounds like prayer is an important part of Ramadan. Prayer is important to me too. Can I share with you what makes Christian prayer acceptable to God?” Or you might respond, “It sounds like purity is a high value in Islam. It’s important to me too. Is it OK for me to share what purity means in my faith?”

Most Muslims are excited to talk about their faith, especially with someone who’s genuinely willing to listen. If you take time to humbly hear their perspective, most people will generously agree to hear your thoughts in return. This kind of dialogue is a great way to show respect for your friends and introduce them to the gospel.

Now go—ask your Muslim neighbors about their ritual washing. Then offer to share about Christian cleansing. Point them to the One who can purify them forever.

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