Sunday, July 31, 2011

This Ramadan, be "a candle in the darkness."

Ramadan, the holy month in Islam where Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during the daylight hours (from the break of dawn until sunset), will start tomorrow in many Muslim countries, including Palestine. Muslims usually look at this holy month as an opportunity for purification of the soul and the body. The Holy Month also teaches us patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God, and restraint.





Because Islam uses the lunar calendar, Ramadan moves back 10 days every year, which means that it will fall on every solar month throughout a person's lifetime, including blazing Middle Eastern August.

Which is the case this year. The 1st of Ramadan is also going to be the 1st of August. And this summer, the summer of 2011, came with an unprecedented heat wave that's sweeping throughout the entire region, making people question their ability/willingness to fast for 14 long hours every day, without even a sip of water (let alone a cigarette for the many heavy smokers of the Arab World).

So people -some grudgingly- prepare for the holy month by installing Air Conditioning units and fans, and buy ice coolers and all kinds of drinks for the meal that comes at the end of every day of fasting.

What happened is that this morning while I was reading the news, I came across another article about the ongoing famine in Somalia. Meanwhile, a couple of my friends on facebook were posting status updates, complaining about fasting in the blazing heat, long fasting hours, etc.. And I thought to myself that God wants us to learn how to restraint ourselves from our cravings and lusts- whether or not we have what we crave/lust for, we need to learn how to control our desires. We need to purify our souls, minds and bodies from the materialistic 'wants' that have filled our 'modern' lives. We need to thank God for our countless blessings and learn how to do good for others. (read below the two hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Anyone who has property that exceed his needs, let him support someone whose property does not (meet his or her needs), and anyone whose food exceeds his needs, let him share it with someone who does not have food.——— Prophet Muhammad (s) in Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 93C.


 “Do not turn away a poor man…even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you…God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.”——— Propher Muhammad (s) Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. 


I hope that people get the point of Ramadan. It's not about the 'misery' of fasting for 14 hours under the sun and looking at the bright side by thinking that you might lose a few kilos in the process. No. It's about knowing that there's plenty of delicious food in your fridge, but that you don't want any of it because you want to learn how to restraint yourself. More importantly, because you know that there are people, right now, in the 21st century, dying of hunger. If anything, knowing that "60 percent of the people [in Somalia] have been inaccessible to aid. And those are the people you're seeing in the camps. Many of those people have walked for...up to six weeks. And many of the women I talked to reported having to leave children along the road who were too weak to make it and who are dying on the way to the camps... it's been called the children's famine"* should make you thank God that you're refraining from eating out of a religious duty (and hopefully, out of belief of its importance), and not because you're part of a starving population faced by a vicious famine while people die of obesity on the other side of the Atlantic.

I'd like to end with a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, one of the Arab World's most famous modern day poets. He passed away three years ago in Ramallah, Palestine.


"As you prepare your breakfast–think of others.
Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.

As you conduct your wars–think of others.
Don’t forget those who want peace.
As you pay your water bill–think of others.
Think of those who only have clouds to drink from.
As you go home, your own home–think of others
–don’t forget those who live in tents.
As you sleep and count the planets, think of others
–there are people who have no place to sleep.
As you liberate yourself with metaphors think of others
–those who have lost their right to speak.
And as you think of distant others
–think of yourself and say "I wish I were a candle in the darkness."



So, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I urge you during this coming month -Ramadan/August- to think of others while you prepare  your breakfast, and find out how you can be "...a candle in the darkness."

With wishes for a blessed month!


Ways you can donate: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140491752701930 (PLEASE SPREAD!!)


p.s. This article tells you how you can help Somalia-mainly by donating money through INGO's:
"How to Help: Somalia Famine and East Africa Drought Victims" http://www.takepart.com/news/2011/07/20/how-to-help-east-africa-drought




(*Somalia article on http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/july-dec11/famine2_07-29.html)
(Hadiths from http://theislamicworkplace.com/positive-quotes/)

10 comments:

  1. A. The article is well written, informative and insightful, well done Yasmine!

    B. Now I feel ashamed for complaining about fasting although we haven't even begin the month !

    C. I'm wondering if there is a way to help people in Somalia. Do u know if we can ??

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  2. Thank you so much for this, it will get printed off and I will carry it with me as a reminder. I am weak fool and this will be my strength. Ramadan Kareem.

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  3. wonderfully put and a great reminder!

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  4. Sorry!
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  5. So well written and so true
    Ramadan Kareem and remember the begger on the street dont shut even if its 10p you give .Allah said Angels come in all disguises .

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  6. I find this article very invigorating. Particularly because I questioned the validity of not eating for the whole day and then gorging ourselves with everything we can get our hands on. Very well written and thought provoking article. I like the use of the two Hadits while the poem really makes you want to spur into action :)

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  7. i really like your blog and your articles. ramadhan kareem to you and your family. here is a short photo series about ramadhan in palestine appeared on the website of germany's biggest newspaper...take care

    http://peribacasi.blogspot.com/

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  8. sorry, here is the link: http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2011-08/fs-ramadan-palaestina

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  9. i like this blog entry.
    Very nice messages and images for Ramadan.
    My best ramadan wishes to you.
    May Allah be with you. Ramadan Kareem

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