Saffiyah Edoo

As Ramadan stood on our threshold, bidding us goodbye, we could not help but feel a twinge of sadness. We may have had difficulties relating to our body’s adjustment to the one month of fasting, but the spiritual journey far outweighed these. On some days, conciliating prayers with fatigue became a real challenge, but most of us made the effort to remain strong. The month of Ramadan has the special quality of allowing us to go back to basics: respecting our bodies, respecting our soul, being more conscious of our attitude and behaviour. In other words, Ramadan encourages us to strive to be a better version of ourselves. The beauty of Ramadan is not limited to those who are practicing but also extends to non-Muslims. Friends, colleagues or even perfect strangers demonstrate a natural solicitude during that period, which is truly touching and gives hope for times to come.

Several heartwarming stories from across the continents have made the rounds during the holy month. From a hotel offering a full breakfast buffet to a client who had requested a snack for the pre-dawn meal, to gurudwaras opening up and offering food for breaking the fast, to a very personal experience of colleagues not wanting to eat in the same room as fasting people, out of respect, the response to Ramadan is anything but negative. Mosques, especially abroad, use this period to welcome non-Muslims to participate in a type of “immersion” into the faith, in a bid to promote understanding and tolerance.

The Holy month provides a respite, a time for reflection on the kind of person one can be and is the ideal time for a new start, for one and all. Solicitude, respect for the belief of the other, respect for oneself, should not be limited to a certain period. In fact, the consideration, respect and understanding to which one is subjected to should become an example of how one can adopt a similar attitude towards others. Ramadan is the period where a lot of openness takes place. A number of work places, associations, community organisations use this period as an opportunity for dialogue. Sessions of breaking the fast are held, allowing people of different faiths to come together for sharing and conversation.  Quite often, these conversations lead to the dispelling of prejudices or preconceived ideas.

The real challenge, however, comes after Ramadan. The challenges that this country will be facing, especially in the light of recent politically motivated manufactured indignations and their aftermaths, misleading interventions on international news channels, controversial gatherings that are set to take place, not to mention potential upcoming elections, are enormous. It is therefore essential that the solicitude, concern, improved attitude and behaviour are maintained as from today. We are well aware of the divisive nature that underlie local politics or any other national happening, for that matter. The population will be deemed fair game for any kind of manipulation, especially on social media platforms. It is therefore all the more indispensable to exercise wisdom, respect and unity to face adversity that might take unexpected shapes.

The month of Ramadan acted as a model of how we, as a collective, can behave and act towards ourselves and each other. This year, more particularly so, as we anticipate what is in store for our country. Our responsibility, our duty and our love for our country should govern our actions. Ramadan was the occasion for us to get acquainted with our better selves, let’s make our improved selves permanent.