Grab the offers with both hands!

Just as you jump on your feet to make the most of all those commercial promos, but give a little consideration to your soul’s solace as well...

By Shafaat Ahmed

Published: Thu 12 Aug 2010, 8:18 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:09 AM

DUBAI - It’s that time of the year again! The streets are illuminated, the atmosphere is abuzz with joy, the mood is festive, the markets, the malls as well as the prayer halls are clogged… And the incredibly irresistible offers and promotions, yes, the offers and promotions are all over the place.

You have guessed it right, no marks for it though! The memories of last Ramadan are still fresh and yet we are staring at another 29 or 30 days filled with bounties and blessings. So blessed is this month that no part of our lives go untouched by this gracious guest, irrespective of a person’s lineage and faith.

Though, it’s a month designed to raise the spirits and belief of the faithful, even the commercial interests are no less served. In fact, the food outlets, supermarkets and departmental stores are the first to inform people well in advance about the imminent arrival of the holy month of Ramadan.

Ironically, the month of fasting and abstinence is the one which generates a frenzy of shopping and indulgence. Food outlets and supermarkets, playing to the gallery, go out of their way in attracting people by announcing special promos and offers.

Sadly, there is so much focus on edibles and consumable items in the run-up to and during the month that the spiritual aspect takes a back seat. The real idea behind the physical exercise of abstinence from things otherwise desirous gets lost among the festivities and glitter.

Being humans, most of us do get carried away by the commercial driven frenzy, yet despite that if we actually do care about the real purpose of this month and make the most of the spiritual promos on offer, a lot can be done without much going out of your way or breaking away from your norm. Just a step or two would be enough to make the difference.

I don’t intend to go on preaching or lecturing just for the heck of it. My idea is to get everyone — including me — to make full use of the spiritual promos on offer just like we grab the commercial ones at the first notice.

Apart from the obligatory Salat (five prayers) and the fasting which is central to Ramadan, there are little things that most of us ignore as trivial but these little acts, if accounted for, form the real basis of Ramadan.

Here is a list of suggestions you can try:

Share and socialise:

How long has it been that you knocked on the doors of your neighbour and enquired on his/her wellbeing? Showing affection to your fellow humans and sharing with them and comforting them, especially neighbours, is a crucial aspect of Islam, and Ramadan being a month of blessing and mercy would be the best to put it into practice. There is no point abstaining from food and drink without having much of an idea of your neighbour’s state.

Extend an arm of charity:

There might be a less fortunate relative or friend back home or in the town who you have been meaning to help but somehow couldn’t come to do it. With 70 times greater rewards on offer there isn’t any better time than this for this noble job. Since poor relatives and friends have a greater right in your charity they should be preferred first. You can also help the watchman of your building or the janitor or whoever around you, who is not as fortunate as you are in terms of wealth.

Taking care of the society’s less fortunate is one of the pillars of Islam and every capable Muslim is obligated to allocate a portion of his/her wealth for this purpose.

Make amends:

It’s not good to keep malaise about any person in your heart for too long. Get up and shake hands with that one person you have been at loggerheads with. Abstinence from food and drink won’t fetch you anything without your heart being clean.

Stay calm and harmless:

Try to be as calm, collected and within yourself as possible; in this way you will stay away from frivolities and controversies. Most importantly, avoid harming anyone. Inculcating peace, be it at home, office or on roads is one of the primary objectives of fasting. So avoid reckless driving, give way on roads and help in maintaining road safety. Mind you, this could be your ticket to heaven.

Be honest:

Most people make fasting an excuse to work less and sleep more. Though among the blessings of Ramadan is fewer hours of work, but fasting doesn’t give anyone licence to cheat on their work and do less. Dishonesty is unacceptable even normally, and doing it while fasting will render your exercise futile.

Gossip-mongers beware:

Gossiping or backbiting is one of the most common vices afflicting men and women today. In fact, it has become a fashion these days.

However, it is one of the most abhorrent practices in the eyes of Allah. That should be enough to deter you from doing it while fasting.

The month of Ramadan offers an opportune time to rehearse all things good and by enacting them, peace and harmony could be maintained for the next 11 months. Hope you all have a blissful month. Ramadan Kareem!

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