Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan Mubarak! Happy Ramadan! ¡Feliz Ramadan!
Ramadan is a blessed month when we get the opportunity to become wiser, more empathetic and more disciplined. The sacrifices we perform during Ramadan teach us to appreciate every bit of the things that we do or that we have. In addition, we learn to appreciate others and to empathize with those who are not as fortunate as we are. More importantly, Ramadan encourages us to take care of those who are not looked after. However, it is quite challenging to keep one’s middle ground during this month, and it is very easy to go from one extreme to the other. Sometimes we believe that Ramadan is about suffering. We seem to think that the most we suffer the closer we are to Allah. This thoughts may lead us to fast while pregnant or ill, or to push ourselves until we become sick. On the other hand, sometimes we flip the scale to become fasting Muslims who have a banquet every night. While breaking the fast is not an issue, how can we be empathetic with less fortunate people if we are over eating every night? Fasting is neither meant to make us suffer, not to make us indulge by eating more than what we would normally eat. The middle ground should be the point when you are able to discipline your body and your mind to control natural impulses. Nonetheless, risking one’s or other’s health goes beyond the meaning of fasting and may even become a greedy attempt to obtain more ‘rewards.’ Then, the fasting may lose its humble meaning. On the other hand, engaging in every-night parties where the fast is broken through a large amount of food and drinks does not fulfill the purpose of discipline since our body just gets used to eat more at a different time. In addition, the waste of food that may happen through these parties is enormous, and it is not usually put to a good use. Most of us do not invite poor people to our homes to break the fast, we tend to invite friends who have the same economic possibilities as us. Therefore, we feed people who do not need to be fed every night, while we forget about those who do not have much and that should be the object of our empathy (not sympathy). In order to be able to keep ourselves in the middle of the scale we must remember that discipline does not mean suffering, and that happiness does not mean indulging.
Hopefully this year we will be able to provide for those who need, and we will be willing to restrain our selves from going from one extreme to the other.