Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 20

Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 20

If more young people think of themselves as part of a community that extends beyond their families and the borders of the UAE, then future Ramadans will surely do more to give hope.



By Bernd Debusmann Jr./senior Reporter

Published: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 1:10 AM

Last updated: Fri 10 Jul 2015, 6:40 PM

One thing that has surprised me during my first Ramadan is that, at least in public discourse, there is little private discussion of charity directed towards the wider Muslim community outside the UAE.

Islam, after all, has the concept of the ‘Ummah’, the collective body of believers around the world, which goes beyond human political borders, nationality or race. Sadly, many millions of Muslims are currently living through wars and unrest, with no end in sight.

To be clear, I’m not by any means saying that the UAE’s government and charitable donations have done nothing for fellow Muslims in other parts of the world. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdullah, for example, has recently praised Emirati support for Palestine’s orphans and poor, and the in the months leading up to Ramadan, the UAE also delivered humanitarian aid to Egypt, Yemen and Pakistan, along with several other Asian and African countries. The UAE has even implemented an Iftar project for the tiny Muslim population in far-off Colombia.

Nor am I down-playing the very commendable charity drives and the support, both official and individual, that has been extended to the less fortunate sectors of the UAE’s society, such as the labourers who toil every day to make the country what it is.

These local charity efforts, which often rely on the kindness of individuals, are both impressive and heart-warming.

However, what I expected to see — and haven’t seen — are campaigns for individuals (rather than organisations, often backed by important UAE government officials) to do their part to help people in need abroad. Why is it, I wonder, that I have seen people seeking individual donations for the orphans of Syria in London and New York, but not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Given that Ramadan is a time to bring people together, this, to me, is baffling. Who better to direct your charity and your prayers to during the holy month?

On a positive note, I was pleased to hear that students from Zayed University held an Iftar with the aim of collecting money for Syria’s refugees.

 If more young people think of themselves as part of a community that extends beyond their families and the borders of the UAE, then future Ramadans will surely do more to give hope to fellow Muslims who are living through difficult times far away. -bernd@khaleejtimes.com


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