I would like to remind myself and others more about the spirit and less about the rituals of Ramadan. The holy month presents a compassionate and mercy-giving gift from the Creator for us to have a ‘reset.’
The rituals about Ramadan entail giving up of food, drink, etc., from sunrise to sunset, for one month as a mandate, one of the five pillars, from the Creator. The ‘haves’ will know when and where their next meal will be (Iftar), and the ‘have nots’ will know where the ‘soup kitchen’ for Iftar.
The Ramadan we need to connect with needs to be about colors, waste and timing. We celebrate the colors of Islam, but we have become color coded; we deplore waste, yet we are guilty of trash; we donate, but emphasis is on the ‘timing.’
Islam emancipated the ‘colored man’ long before Abraham Lincoln and the civil war or Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Yet, we see more discrimination, from subtle to overt, in the Muslim world. The irony is the discriminating Muslim stands shoulder-to-shoulder against the discriminated during prayers! The irony is during Hajj, we all wear the same cloth.
The Creator is ‘colorblind!’ We are all created equal in His eyes, be it back, brown, yellow, white, and in-between. The diversity of colors is our strength!
Yet, creation discriminates against creation, why? Is it because of wealth, but all wealth belongs to the Creator? Is it because of some caste hierarchy system, but Islam expunged such thinking? Is it because of some sort of entitlement, there will no more messengers? More questions than answers, and not sure the origin or the evidence to support it!
We are born pure, but nurture, instead of cross-pollinating, in-breed pollutes our perceptions, hence, mankind needs to be instructed to behave.
From the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad (saw):
‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.’
So, where there is discrimination, say, between Muslims, then it logically follows, those that offend, historically or periodically, they have understood and accepted their actions have consequences?
Furthermore, I’m not sure donations, from Zakat to Sadaqa, offset a knowingly violating an injunction. Islam does not ‘sell salvation.’
The month of Ramadan presents an opportunity for us all to look within and try to better understand and address our prejudices and perceptions. The Creator has provided us free will, surely we must act to free ourselves from preconceived prejudices that we have developed over-time.
A child is not born with prejudices.
“Eat – But waste not by excess: for God does not love the wasters.” (Qur’an, 6:141).
Its would seem that Muslims, as a whole, do not understand, appreciate or apply the word ‘moderation.’ We may have starvation in the Muslim world, but we also have obesity!
One of the most depressing sights in Ramadan is not so much seeing the young and old too weak to move or flies parking themselves near their eyes and mouths, but the amount of food that is wasted. Imagine, if a percentage of this food is made available to those not knowing when their next meal is, doesn’t matter Muslim or non-Muslim, as its about humanity and not an identity.
For example, during Iftars at hotels, a plate is carefully built and sculpted like a food pyramid from the different food stations. People cannot realistically consume most of the food, hence, it ends up in the trash bin.
Al-Hassan Al-Basri said: “O, son of Adam, eat with one third of your stomach and drink with one third and leave one third of your stomach to breathe so that you may think.”
Abdulrahman Bakri, an Islamic scholar said: “During Ramadan, there is always a major increase in food wastage not only in the (Saudi) Kingdom but also other countries across the Gulf. At iftar parties or banquets during Ramadan, the leftover food usually goes waste and wealthy hosts have no qualms about throwing them away. I myself have seen such things happening and have advised people, using such examples, to raise awareness levels.”
As its not wise to go food shopping when one is hungry, its, equally unwise, to fill our plates to the top when we have fasted for the day.
One of the most common statements during Ramadan is ‘…I ate too much…’ and, no matter what promise is made to not have the same feeling, the cycle does repeat itself till Eid!
We need to eat less with our eyes, and more with our stomach capacity. But, that requires a discipline, which if you think about it, it already exists. If we can abstain from food from sunrise to sunset, we must surely have the discipline to ‘chew only what we can eat.’
Gimmicks related to smaller plate sizes, smaller portions, etc., are not sustainable solutions, it comes down to self discipline of knowing when to stand up and walk away, hence, solution is us as the problem is us!
One of the fundamental foundations of Islam is donations or what secularist may call a ‘social contract’ directed towards less well endowed members of humanity.
One of the most often asked inquiries involving donations is ‘giving for getting.’ Meaning, many Muslims donate during Ramadan as the ‘gift of giving’ has the greater multiplier impact for our ‘credit’ side.
Now, what about from the recipient point of view, the various charities, be it Syrian Refugees, Palestinian refugee camps, Rohingya people, etc., should they be asked to wait? Will these people-in-need have their benefits multiplied because they are asked to wait because Muslims, donating, will only do during Ramadan?
Furthermore, as only the Creator knows about our expiration date, what if we perish before Ramadan donation?
“So hasten towards all that is good”. (2:148)
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Rubb, and for Jannah as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious)”. (3:133)
The Prophet of Islam encourages the doing of good deeds sooner than later:
Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. A man would be a believer in the morning and turn to disbelief in the evening, or he would be a believer in the evening and turn disbeliever in the morning, and would sell his Faith for worldly goods.” [Muslim].
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Hasten to do good deeds before you are overtaken by one of the seven afflictions.” Then (giving a warning) he said, “Are you waiting for such poverty which will make you unmindful of devotion; or prosperity which will make you corrupt, or disease as will disable you, or such senility as will make you mentally unstable, or sudden death, or Ad-Dajjal who is the worst expected absent, or the Hour, and the Hour will be most grievous and most bitter“. [At-Tirmidhi].
‘We make a living by we get … we make a life by what we give.’ Winston Churchill.
Ramadan is a detox to some, discipline for others, but should be spiritual cleansing for all.
Make the pledge and continue the commitment.