Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, commenced last month.
It is certainly a special time of year when Muslims worldwide get up extra early to start fasting with a pre-dawn meal and abstain from all food, drink (including water!), smoking, and physical intimacy, until breaking fast at sunset each day. Also strictly forbidden are outbursts of anger, bad language, backbiting, gossiping etc. This holy month is a spiritual training camp of sorts: an annual exercise in practicing and developing self-restraint and empowering ourselves from within.
Giving charity and sharing our privileges with others- in the form of money, food or other acts of kindness- is also a vital requirement of this holy month.
Ramadan is supposed to evoke an awareness of the spiritual dimension of our lives, and develop good habits like patience and prayer.
Refraining from normal fulfillments like food and drink- that we all take so much for granted- is meant to instil the value of these blessings, and empathy for those less fortunate than ourselves, to whom a meager meal may be a luxury. It is ironical that so many people seem to go on a feasting frenzy under the premise of Ramadan. In stead of learning contentment with less and simpler food, the focus shifts to an obsession with food and over indulgence. All around, the sanctity of this blessed month is trivialised with a commercial agenda promoting lavish Iftars and Ghabgas everywhere. The fasting is used as an excuse for ‘feasting’!
Ramadan is supposed to evoke an awareness of the spiritual dimension of our lives, and develop good habits like patience and prayer. Patience is necessary to restrain from instant self-gratification and extra prayers are the norm throughout the month. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran, which explicitly states: “Seek help through patience and prayer. It is indeed exacting, but not for those who are humble in their hearts” (2:45). Let us not forget the underlying purpose of fasting and desist the temptation to feast.
Mobeena Inam is a freelance writer and member of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. An Education & Training specialist, she has a special passion in intercultural issues and cross- cultural communication. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org