Now that the holy month of Ramadan is here most Muslim households, whether here or there, will see their homes … and lives infuse with excitement, anticipation and a great deal of visitors.
If Ramadan is a month of fasting and overall abstinence from the
material world to elevate one’s soul, and thus reflect upon those
lessons Islam teaches humanity, it is also a month when friendships are
renewed, family ties strengthened and hopefully one’s sense of social
After all we are the society we live in, and it falls onto us to
mend what is broken, heal what was harmed and assuage whatever fears
some may hold regardless … Ramadan we must now realise is much an
exercise of betterment from within.
A stronger grasp of the religious and a greater sense of empathy
may automatically manifest in improving one’s relationships with the
outside world in general.
This year Shafaqna decided to ask its readers to volunteer their
experiences and their thoughts towards Ramadan and the impact the holy
month has had on their lives from a personal standpoint onwards.
Does Ramadan accomplish what it should for us personally? Does it
make us more worshipful, improve our characters, and train us for the
year ahead? Also, how to maneuver those murky social waters when Islam
has been vilified and Muslims demonised over those acts of terror we
abhor most of all?
To this end, we surveyed men and women asking them to self-evaluate their Ramadan program.
Ramadan’s Long-Lasting Effects
Despite the trauma of past months, the community proved to be
highly positive about its Ramadan routine and how each individual,
families and local communities came together to support each other,
improve their respective faith and above all worked to portray Islam as a
Of all the people Shafaqna interviewed nearly 100 percent of them
said they felt Ramadan programs were effective in bringing about
positive change to their worship habits and character beyond the month
"After the month is over, I am reminded of these things, and it
stays with me, or sometimes afterwards. For example, after last Ramadan I
was reminded how little of the Quran I have memorized and that I need
to get closer to the Quran. Since then, I have slowly been trying to
memorize, think, understand and implement more and so far I have
succeeded,” said a reader.
This detailed response is quite similar to how others replied: "For
me, it’s very helpful because throughout the entire month, my number
one goal is to collect as many good deeds as possible. That should be
the case throughout the year, but during this month I’m consciously
tracing all the opportunities.”
Ramadan and charity
A month to remember others and offer compassion to those less
fortunate, many of our readers have said they use the month of Ramadan
as an opportunity for being more generous and conscious of others’ needs
Abdullah from London writes: "As a member of the Yemeni diaspora I
feel particularly touched by the plight of my people and so I have
collected donations to send back home. But not only … I also made a
point at remembering Iraqis and Syrians as they too, suffered of the
horrors of war. This year I want to think of the global community and
not just my own. It’s important we think as a united Ummah (community)
and not just separate entities.”
Hanan from London said that since her finances do not allow her to
be as generous as she would like so she decided instead to offer her
time to local charities. "I am a student and so I felt it would be best
for me to give away the one thing I have most of: my time. Ramadan has
taught me that even a smile can be an act of charity and as Muslims it
is important we enact Islam’s principles of compassion and generosity by
getting out there and being positive.”
Ramadan teaches us that there are transcendent values that are
worth taking a break from our yearly routines for, and those are more
profound, deeper and more meaningful than material values.
In fact, our respondents, who felt a meaningful success in Ramadan,
reflected this in our survey. More than 75 percent of them mentioned
they put aside time to concentrate on the spiritual goals they set out
for themselves as being key in their success.
In Ramadan, we refrain from food and drink in the day and strive to
worship longer and harder at night. It’s not a constant mode of life,
our Ramadan routines. It’s one month out of the year. Furthermore, we
use this one month out of 12 to build certain characteristics in
ourselves at precisely the expense of material acquisition.
We want to instill in ourselves, in the long run, the spirit of
sacrifice. We desire to train ourselves in the virtues of resilience and
heartiness. So, the message here is not fast and amp up your worship
schedule without it taking a toll on your worldly pursuits, but to
prioritise the former and still maintain the latter. It’s not only all
right to do it, it’s what you must do to make Ramadan most effective.
Our fasting is meant to affect us, to deplete us in a materialistic
sense, so as to replenish us in faith and the awe of Allah Almighty. We
also fast out of a belief in the Afterlife, putting our Hereafter
deliberately and squarely out in front of our pursuit of the world and
our misguided attempts to consume it, which is exactly as it should
This year – maybe more than any other year, we ought to remember
what duty was imparted onto us: to be witness to the Word of God and
abide by His commands to be more ethical and humane.
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna