#Article (Archive)

Essence of Ramadan

Jul 10, 2014, 9:17 AM

With the first ten days completed Tuesday before the conclusion of the Ramadan, Muslims should be asking themselves how closely they have been following one of Islam’s five pillars.

Ample evidence suggests that many are not adhering to the principles of Ramadan as they ought to.

Many Muslims have turned Ramadan from a time to draw closer to Allah through fasting and contemplation to a superficial ritual hardly resembling the spirit of the month.

Muslims have turned the month of fasting into a month of eating. Food purchases and consumption during Ramadan soar beyond all other monthly consumer averages. We eat till we drop.

Naturally, so does our health. Doctors report higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses due to overindulgence in fats and sweets.

And so much of that food in the end goes to waste, tossed into the rubbish bin, during this month when we must increase our giving to the poor.

We do not avail ourselves of the opportunity Ramadan provides to break awfully bad habits. We have not the least misgivings about talking into a mobile while circumambulating the Kaaba in the Haram.

We thoughtlessly park our car at the entrance of mosques, blocking the path of worshippers during prayers.

Too many of us drive perilously fast every day, but in Ramadan we step on the gas, especially at the time of iftar.

We are in constant road rage, spewing forth foul language, a phenomenon seen in normal times, but crossing all limits during Ramadan. We are on edge, nerves are frayed, ever ready to fight verbally and perhaps physically, when in Ramadan we are to exercise patience and self-control.

Then there are the made-for-Ramadan TV serials. The Arab audience has a choice of more than 50 soap operas broadcast over satellite networks 7/24, as if Ramadan has become a month dedicated to entertainment and amusement.

All that time spent in front of the television until the early morning hours obviously diminishes one’s competence and productivity at work during the daytime in Ramadan. In fact, nothing gets done in Ramadan. So little value is given to work during this month, at least in the various government departments and agencies, that one might think that a whole class of civil servants, regardless of rank, regard Ramadan as the month of licensed indolence.

Ramadan hones self-discipline. It teaches compassion, tolerance and mutual support. But fasting also has greater collective ends, for it should also compel societies to regulate the use of their wealth so as to avoid waste and optimize the potential it offers. Year after year, we take note of this and remark on the extravagance that has become so much a part of our Ramadan. In fact, in spite of our society’s trend toward more rigid conservatism, if not fanaticism, we ironically waste wealth through excessive and inappropriate spending.

This has become our Ramadan. We have forgotten that in Ramadan we are to feel for the needy. This is to be done for just one month. We have forgotten that the needy are needy all year round.

As Ramadan winds down, every Muslim must ask him or herself whether they have been following the preachings of Islam as they were ordained by Allah or are they simply going through the motions. Guest Editorial adapted

“The key to success is reflected in the Qur’an.

May we find blessing and guidance as we recite it altogether in the Ramadan days”.

Happy Ramadan!