By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: Fasting is a religious practice observed by many faiths around the world. It involves abstaining from food, drink or other physical needs for a certain period of time. Muslims observe fasting during the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, while Catholics fast mostly during Lent, while other Christian faithful fast according to their doctrines. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are the foundations of the Muslim faith and practice.
While Ramadan is primarily associated with Islam, it is not uncommon to find Christians fasting alongside their Muslim brethren. This practice is often seen as a gesture of solidarity and respect for the Islamic faith. Kuwait Times interviewed some Christian faithful who said they are fasting during the holy month. “The act of fasting has deep roots in Christianity as well. In the Bible, Jesus (PBUH) fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. Christians also observe various periods of fasting throughout the year, such as Lent and Advent,” Liza Rodriquez and her friends said after praying in the Catholic Church in Kuwait City.
“Fasting during Ramadan is not a requirement for Christians, but some choose to do so as a way of participating in interfaith dialogue and building bridges between different religious communities,” Pastor Milli of the National Evangelical Church said. Additionally, some Christians see fasting as a spiritual discipline that can help them grow closer to God. “Although Christians are a minority in Kuwait, they are allowed to practice their religion freely. Some Christians in Kuwait choose to fast as a sign of respect and in solidarity for the Islamic faith or as a personal spiritual practice, but it is not obligatory,” Nelson Peter, a Catholic, told Kuwait Times.
The constitution of Kuwait guarantees freedom of religion and protects the right of Christians to practice their faith without interference. While there are no specific rules governing how Christians should fast during Ramadan, some choose to follow similar guidelines as Muslims, such as abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours. Others choose to fast in different ways or at different times. “We always fast during Ramadan. Fasting is easier when almost everybody around you fasts. My wife advised me to do so and I love it.
Fasting can be seen as a way to purify oneself and draw closer to God. It can also be a way to demonstrate self-control and discipline. When Christians fast alongside Muslims during Ramadan, it can be seen as a way to build bridges between the two faiths and promote understanding and tolerance. It can also be a way to show support for Muslims who may face discrimination or prejudice in their communities,” Das Thomas explained. “Christians fasting during Ramadan is not really a common practice, as Ramadan is a religious observance specific to Islam.
However, there are some Christians who choose to fast during Ramadan as a way of showing solidarity with their Muslim neighbors and friends. Coincidentally, this year’s Ramadan coincided with the Lent season and Easter period when most Catholic faithful fast too,” Evangelist Innocent Affia said. “Ramadan is so fascinating. Even the ambience feels different during the holy month. I have lived in Kuwait for over 10 years and Ramadan is my best period. Just like my Muslim friends, I fast to get closer to God. It is a rare privilege and I thank God for that,” said Jossy Nathan, a Catholic, thanking the Kuwait leadership for promoting peace and religious tolerance.