Sunday, July 31, 2011
Salam Ramadhan to All
Well, Ramadhan is here again. a month of restraint on food and drink for the Muslims but also a month of bounty and magnanimity for those seeking Allah's blessings.It is a month when everything that a Muslim does including eating, drinking ( at night of course) sleeping, resting etc can ear n him or her a good point so long as it's done in the name of Allah. Carrying out what is required by the Islam ( wajib) such as praying and reading the al-Quran, will earn him or her a multiple of the normal award given at other times.
It is a month during which a Muslim can redeem himself of several wrongdoings committed in the entire year. One night in the last ten nights of Ramadhan and on an odd date of the Muslim calender ( malam Lailatul Qadar), Allah will show some sign of his greatness and power. Anyone who witnesses this would be awarded some extraordinary blessings and favor by Allah.
It is because of all those special rewards and favors (barakah) that can be bestowed on a Muslim in the month of Ramadhan that the month is given the title al-mubarak. Fasting in the day from Imsak to Maghrib togethere with the special the breaking of fast together at the mosque ( morey) more elaborate night prayers (Tarawih) and the al-Quran reading session (Tadarus). make Ramadhan a holy month. At the end of it the Aidil Fitri celebration is of course a day of feasting and rejoice, which can sometimes stretch for a month.
This entry is written after the first special prayers consisting of 23 raka'ats ( 20 tarawih and 3 witri) was over. Tomorrow is the first day of fasting, although a faithful Muslim would have also done some 9 days of fasting in the previous month. Sya'ban (3 days at the beginning of the month, 3 days in the middle and 3 more towards the end). More devout Muslims may even fast a fewdays every week throughout the year as practiced by the Prophet, Muhammad SAW (pbuh).
What does all these fasting mean to the people of the world? Yes other religions also have their fasting schedule and the purpose is about the same - to cleanse the soul of human sins and misdoings. Fasting is also held to be a good health measure by the medical community for it gives the stomoch and the rest of the body too a chance to rest. But is that all that we can gain from fasting as a socio-religious activity?
I think the world and humanity as a whole can gain much much more through the practice of fasting on certain days of the month and year.. The rich and the wealthy for whom eating and drinking is a significant part of life's pleasure would begin to understand the meaning of food deprivation, scarcity and starvation. They would then treat the food and drinks they consume as a birthright of the rich with more respect as a gift of God, For now they only appreciate the gift of God when they loose their taste and appetite due to some ailment. Or when forced to stay away from their gourmet delights by the doctors.
When fasting people also don't waste their energy and strength on unimportant non-urgent and laborious work. Would they then be keen to quarrel with each other, indulge in surreptitious and devious activities to outdo or outmaneuver each other on a national or international basis to gain supremacy and power, or would they want to attack and kill each other for whatever worldly reason their mind could conjure? When hungry and thirsty in the day people would only be interested in waiting for the evening to break their fast and occupy their time with religious or humanitarian work that could alley their hunger and thirst. They would not be thinking of doing injustice and evil towards others.
What would the impact be on the economy of the country and the world? Food consumption would be reduced however insignificantly, if for a few weeks in a year people don't eat during the day. No, they would gorge themselves to death at night, some might say. well, Wouldn't their early death achieve the same purpose? Seriously reducing food consumption in any way would affect the demand and supply equation and reduce food price which is currently soaring up in the entire world. In the home front when the family spends less money on food there will just be more money for other things, would it not? Simple economy. This would not apply to the filthy rich, of course, for they would always remain filthy!
The Muslims during Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) time even go to war while fasting. And won as in the the Badr skirmish when a great number was defeated by a few. Many believe that people can concentrate on what they are doing better on an empty rather than a full tummy. The Muslims believe that you can learn and memmorize the al-Quran better when fasting. Some doctors endorse this belief. Of course we are not talking about starvation but a voluntary reduction of food and liquid intake in the daytime on certain days in the month or month in the year. In any case that introduces the next issue - starvation as is happening in many poor parts of the world like in Somalia and other parts of Africa. Why do we have starvation there while food is being wasted by already obese people in other parts of the world.
The economic answer is, because of uneven distribution? Why uneven, because of uneven capacity to pay, income concentration, high gini coefficient and other fancy terms that economists know well but are unable to or unwilling (especially politicians) to overcome ( because scarcity can create demand and demand gives them power}. Yes, fasting can effect the power equation as well as shown by Mahatma Ghandi in the 1920s. Fasting can not only cleanse the soul but also reduce human greed for power, for wealth etc., in other words affect human will and rationalit,y, and certainly their capacity to empathize or pity those human beings who are suffering from starvation.
Hey, are those not enough reasons for us to fast on some days whether you are a Muslim or not. The least harm it can do is to reduce your physical weight ( not your economic, social or political power in the least) and slim down - the dream of many beauty conscious ladies irrespective of race or religion. Why then not join the Muslims in honoring the month of Ramadhan which has just begun? Hehehe. For Malaysian I see that everyone is already enjoying the existence of the Ramadhan Bazaar or "Pasar Ramadhan." Buy as much food as you want but please enjoy them at night.