For Albanian Muslims, their day starts very early during Ramazan. Roma (Gypsy) men and children come out into the streets beating their drums at 3am in the morning. This is to wake everyone up so they can rise and eat before the fast begins at sunrise. Then, when sunrise begins, Albanian Muslims refrain from eating and drinking for most of the day. Muslims fast for two reasons during this time: to be near the poor, and to become closer to Allah. As the sun begins to set, Roma Gypsies will take to the streets once again with drums in their hands to remind Muslims that their fast is over. It is during this time that Albanian Muslims will gather their families together to feast and celebrate. This time of gathering and feasting is called Iftar. Iftar is also a good opportunity for the Roma to collect alms, as Muslims usually give out leke (Albanian currency) to the poor.
Several days from now will mark the end of Ramazan. The last day of this holy month is called Eid. Eid is perhaps the most important day of this holy month. Muslims from all around the world gather in unity to pray at their local mosques. They do not fast during this day and partake in as many acts of charity that they can. During this day is when the Roma go throughout the city with their drums and flutes collecting more alms from observant Muslims. Eid in Albania is called Bajram and is actually a national holiday where most places will be closed for the day.
Because we work primarily with Roma Gypsies, Ramazan has been a good opportunity to share with them about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Reminding them Jesus came to give good news to the poor (Luke 4:18) and to give life and life abundantly (John 10:10). Ironically, in a couple more months Albanian Muslims will celebrate what is called the greater Eid (Kurban Bajrami) which recognizes the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac before God intervened with a sacrificial lamb. What a perfect illustration of the ultimate lamb who was sacrificed for all of us in order that we may live, including for our Muslim neighbors who know Him not (Romans 5:8).
Please pray for the Roma of Albania and that they will see the true sacrificial Lamb of God through this holy season.