The Islamic month of Ramadan began on 2 April and will conclude on Sunday 1 May. During this period Muslims will fast from all food and drink during the hours of daylight. It is also considered a time for prayer, almsgiving and acts of charity.

While most Muslims observe the month of Ramadan entirely peacefully, this is nevertheless a time of year that creates problems for Christians in Islamic contexts. Technically, non-Muslims are not required to fast because it is a form of Islamic worship – indeed, the Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars of Islam.

However, Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries can feel pressured into joining in the severe fast. They will likely be unable to eat in public, creating particular difficulties for those who must work outside the home.

The month of Ramadan is especially hard for secret believers – converts from Islam to Christianity, who have not told their Muslim families for fear of persecution and even death. They must make the month-long extra commitment to Islamic observance, or risk showing that they have apostatised from Islam.

For Islamist extremists Ramadan can mean they are more active in attacking non-Muslims, which they think is pleasing to Allah. A potential flashpoint for Islamist violence is Easter, which this year occurs during the Ramadan observance, according to both the Western and Eastern church calendars.

Barnabas Fund