The spirit of sacrifice

Fasting is all about renewing your faith

By Akif Abdulamir (Desert Classics)

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Published: Sun 14 Jul 2013, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:14 PM

It is another holy month of Ramadan and Muslims around the world reflect on their achievements in the past twelve months. It is the month of blessing for the people with the right attitude. Let me elaborate, some people go through the ritual of fasting in a mechanised manner. They just go along with it without really believing in the month and they say “Ramadan Kareem” when they don’t really mean it.

There are also those who take advantage of the month. One of the many blessings of the month includes short working hours, loan repayment waivers and abundance of charity. The unscrupulous see the blessing as special perks that they can take advantage of. Employees go to their offices later than usual saying that they spent the small hours of the night “praying” when they were really watching late movies. Beggars knock doors asking for charity when they don’t deserve it and businessmen work out deceitful schemes to increase sales.

I was standing behind a man enquiring about the price of meat in a leading supermarket in Muscat on the first day of Ramadan. There was a shock on his face when he was told that meat price had increased by 20 per cent in the last twenty-four hours. “Insurance and transport costs have gone up,” he was told.

The butcher did not fool anyone. Live animals are shipped into the country a month before Ramadan and there was no reason for the meat to soar in price from the same stock. What about fruits and vegetables, which are grown in the country? One thing for sure, farmers and fishermen do not make anything extra but shop owners turn Ramadan into a cash bonanza. The silence business slogan is that if you stay hungry the whole day then you must eat in the evening. Then you must pay the asking price. You are left with no choice but to wonder; “where is the spirit of Ramadan?”

When I was a young engineer at the airport, I caught my senior supervisor eating in his office during the day. He grabbed me by the throat and for a moment, I thought I was never going to celebrate Eid. He thought he had locked the door and was secured in his own little world of deceit.

“You breath this to anyone,” he snarled and sprayed my face with fish curry as he spoke,” then you forget your promotion!”

I did not expose him, partly because he was writing my annual report and for the reason that it was not my business. Many people like him go back home from work and pretend that they fast. They would also sit with their families during Iftar just to go along with the ritual. The outrageous thing is that they would celebrate Eid unashamedly and pray aloud for God to spare them so they could “fast” another Ramadan next year.

The good news is that people like my old office supervisor are a minority. The bad news is that their behaviour tends to corrupt youngsters. However, we can take for comfort that the majority are sincere. Fasting is not about staying hungry and thirsty but it is about renewing your faith. It is also about believing and without belief we are like an empty shell that crumbles from the weakest of forces. When you pass the test of fasting in the day, you would have the luxury to look at yourself in the mirror with greater confidence in the night. You would know that the person with the face that stares back is no cheat. With that realisation, you can walk the streets and say “Ramadan Kareem” without reservations.

Akif Abdulamir is an Oman-based writer

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