A different Ramadan

Every year billions of Muslims worldwide eagerly await Ramadan. The holy month, not only teaches the faithful to obey the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit but it is essentially a time to strive to become better human beings. It is common to see many people shed some bad habit or the other during this month as they renew their pledge to God.

While many may not be able to continue there are those lucky enough to stick to their resolve. But at least during this month, the effort is to not only fulfil the promise of Ramadan in religious practice but also in day to day life.

The social aspects of Ramadan are especially significant as not only does it bring families and friends together at the times of suhoor and iftar, it unites strangers in places of worship. The mosques overflowing with worshippers at prayer times also brings them together to open their fast at sunset. There is a welcome sense of unity and togetherness among those thronging the mosques. Besides, what is really commendable is the amount of charity dispensed during this month of blessings. Not only does one witness large amounts of free food being offered to the needy, but also money and clothes. This is indeed appreciable. In keeping with the true spirit of Ramadan, restraint on one’s food and drink, speech and behaviour is what is exercised the most. Only while fasting, one can truly appreciate the needs of others who have to forego food not out of choice but because they don’t have the resources due to circumstances. At the same time, while refraining from food and drink from the time of fajr prayers to maghrib, the worshippers are advised to refrain from other social ills like cheating, dishonesty, stealing, lying, hurting or causing offense to others from one’s speech and actions.

While many may profess they know this, the question is if they also practise this? The aim of Ramadan is to train oneself to become a complete Muslim in every aspect — religious and social — not just for one month of the year but for the entire duration of one’s life. It is easy to forget this in today’s fast paced lifestyle but it can be done. The key is to remember that the patience and willpower that come to the forefront during fasting can also be extended post Ramadan.

So what can we do to make this Ramadan different from others? For starters we can enter a commitment with ourselves to change for the better. By demonstrating the universally appreciated qualities of tolerance, generosity, kindness, honesty and truthfulness we can set an example on other Muslims and also non-Muslims. We can use this month to show the real face of Islam that preaches peace, tolerance and kindness, a message that has been forgotten today in the chaos created by those terrorists who exploit and distort this great religion.

A concluding thought should also be given to millions of people that have been affected by natural calamities and are suffering worldwide. It is time to give generously, every drop counts.

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