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Christians Encounter Ramadan in Bangladesh
ICC Note:
Muslims who convert to Christianity are often referred to as Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s). In Bangladesh MBB’s must be cautious in the upcoming weeks of Ramadan. They have reported that during Ramadan, though legally free to practice their faith, they are more likely to be targeted with death threats, or disowned from their families. We have found that MBB’s often carry a great price for their conversion.
07/12/2012 Bangladesh (OpenDoors)-Most restaurants in Bangladesh will be closed during the daylight hours in strict adherence to Ramadan. According to a 34-year-old Christian woman from the capital city of Dhaka, “During this month, it is offensive to eat or drink in front of a fasting Muslim. I once worked for a non-profit organization and my colleagues would bring food to the office during Ramadan because the cafeteria was closed. Then, they ate in secret. I did not do it though,” she added. “It’s my personal conviction that joining the Muslims in their fasting would bring Christ closer to them.”
Ramadan commemorates a significant event in Islam’s history when its founder, the Prophet Mohammad, received a series of divine messages. These revelations were later recorded as the pages of the Quran, Islam’s most sacred book. “Muslims treat Ramadan with reverence,” shared the young Bangladesh woman, “and they tend to be more serious and sensitive about Islamic beliefs and practices. So, during Ramadan, we (Christians) need to be more careful in carrying out our church activities, especially in conducting seminars, trainings, and other programs.”
Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s) in Bangladesh must be especially wary during Ramadan. They can easily provoke Bengali Muslims at this time of heightened piety. Labeled as apostates, MBB’s are often driven away from their communities, disowned and disinherited by their families, and even threatened with death. MBB’s comprise about five percent of Bangladesh’s total Christian population of 1.36 million. Unlike many other Muslim countries, MBB’s in Bangladesh are legally free to practice their faith in Christ, but they must do so with utmost sensitivity to their Muslim-majority communities.

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