Ramadan in the eyes of Muslims [Archives:2008/1191/Community]

September 18 2008

By: Shafeek Al-Homaidi
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Ramadan is the holy month of every year in which all Muslims fast. It is the 'month of fasting' and the 'generous month'.

I take this opportunity to greet all the Muslims and none-Muslims alike. We also implore to Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate to show us the right path and illuminate our hearts. In Ramadan, heaven opens its doors and the devils are chased. In fact, fasting is the best way of penance to ask our God for the forgiveness of our sins, whether committed knowingly or unknowingly.

Muslims all over the world spend many hours reciting the Holy Quran and worshiping Allah, increasing the number of prayers in mosques due to the redoubled virtue of this month.

Almighty Allah imposed fasting on every human as one of the five pillars of Islam. Every day in Ramadan, we have to give up eating and drinking from dawn until sunset in order to feel the suffering of those who are poor and starving.

But how do we receive the holy month? Ramadan in our country has taken on various cultural and traditional forms, but a common practice during the holy month is to consume everything on the market.

People all over the country flock to markets to stock up on all manner of foodstuffs as if they were about to fall into a crisis. It's a pity that most Yemenis think that celebrating Ramadan depends mainly on providing their families with a variety of food and drink.

As we buy all kinds of products, not caring about their quality or expiry date, I really wonder whether Ramadan is as good for our stomach as most of us seem to think.

What is more disastrous is that the products that storekeepers get out for Ramadan have been stagnant on their shelves for months until the holy season. Only with fake discount stamps, do they lure in innocent people to buy them.

Things turn upside down in Ramadan in our country and we find many people of all ages, male and female, spending long hours at night in front of the television screen watching the season's latest movies and shows.

I am extremely happy that people enjoy their spare time in Ramadan and I am not here to admonish anybody, but I do think that we sometimes forget the main reason for being of Ramadan.

Many unacceptable things take place in our society to spoil our fasting, such as people impatiently quarrelling over minor things, or insulting each other in offensive ways. I think we should fully appreciate that Ramadan teaches people patience and the kind treatment of others. Ramadan teaches us to use our time wisely in worshiping Allah and elevating our spirits, not to waste time chewing qat and chatting idly all night long.

Ramadan teaches us the virtue of self-control in not allowing ourselves to be affected by physical desires. Ramadan is a reminder for us of those beggars who only have one daily meal.

Yet, while the rich should be feeling the suffering and hunger endured by the poor, we fill our kitchens with all kinds of vegetables, fruits, drinks and other foodstuffs.

This is a religious chance that will not come twice. We all have to seize it before it is too late!