The holiest time in the year of a Muslim is Ramadan. During this month, Muslims are supposed to fast, pray and give. It is their once-in-a-year chance to be this close to God, as they thank Him for what He has given them and do not ask Him for more.

Muslims experience Ramadan in order to sympathise with the poor, the hungry and the ill. They not only fast for hours, but also consider giving money to charity or anyone in need. They make sure not to swear, to hurt others and try to treat everyone the way they want to be treated. This month is to them, the month of forgiveness, of mercy and peace.

As the new moon marks the beginning of Ramadan, Muslims tend to make resolutions and lists of goals and aspirations that they would like to achieve in those four weeks. They treat each other with sympathy and compassion, stand side by side and sometimes, even support their greatest enemy. In this short period of time, Muslims put their values ahead of their ego.

But out of eleven months of deadly sins, does one month of heavenly virtues make you a good Muslim? If you fast and pray, but steal, cheat, or in the worst cases kill, would God forgive you because it is Ramadan? If you have been the worst human being possible, with no values and no mercy, but gave a certain amount of money to a charity, does this make you a believer?

Put it this way. If you are about to bake a cake, and you just got your eggs out of the fridge: four of them should be thrown in the garbage and you can only use one of them. Would you still use those four others because one out of five is good? In fact, would you be able to eat the cake?

If you do bad things to others for 11 months but atone during one month, it doesn’t mean you are a good Muslim, or perhaps, even a good human. If you eat your sandwich, every single morning, in front of a beggar and do not even consider giving him a helping hand, but decide to give him two pounds during Ramadan, it doesn’t mean you have sympathy for the poor. If you tell the woman just across from your office to leave you alone but salute her during only four weeks out of 52, that doesn’t make you a saviour.

The poor are poor during the 12 months of the year, and not just at Ramadan, or Christmas or any other holly occasion. The poor are poor whether you are fasting or not, whether you are praying or not and whether you are smiling at him or not. The poor are poor, because you convince yourself, during one month, that you care.

When you fast during a long tiring day (this is if you didn’t sleep all day long), you come home to a buffet where you would probably have a soup, a salad, a dish with meat, some bread, and sweets. In fact, the amount of food you have on your table for one night only, is more than what the less fortunate would ever dream of.

By making all this food, you are wasting not only your money, but your fasting as well, since you are not “feeling” with the poor anymore. The real problem here, is not that you have a lot of food. As long as you are eating it, that is perfectly fine. But the irony is when you throw most of it away during a single month when you should really be feeling what the hungry feel.

The Bible or the Qur’an never said to only do good during holly occasions. “Learn to do good,” says the Bible (1:17) because “if you do good, you do good for yourselves,” (Qur’an, Surat Al-Isra), not to please society, not to convince God to forgive you and not to lie to yourself saying that you sympathise with the thirsty souls.

Ramadan is indeed, an opportunity to start a new page, but this page does not end with the end of the month. If you want to be religious, then do it the right way. Everyday should be Ramadan, everyday should be Easter and Christmas; because the poor shouldn’t become poorer and we shall help him who is hungry, fight that hunger.

 

Yasmeena El Sabeh