July 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Last week marked the start of Muslim fasting month of Ramadan across the globe.
The ninth month of the 12-month lunar Islamic calendar, Ramadan brings along a lifestyle and culture of its own, changing people’s schedules to eating habits to how they should behave in order to fulfill essentials of the fast.
It’s a month that holds significance for many but, at the same time, it’s one that becomes a challenge for some. For the faithful, it’s a month that holds far more significance in terms of worshiping than any other month of the year. Whereas, for people like me, it comes as an unwelcome guest in a metaphoric house that has no door but windows.
Fasting comes as third in a series of five pillars that encompass the Muslim faith. The others include praying five times a day towards the city of Mecca, performing Hajj–the pilgrimage to the city once in a lifetime for those who can afford it–and giving alms to the needy. During the 29- to 30-day long month, the number depending on the visibility of the crescent moon to start or end the month, observers of the fast are required to refrain from eating, drinking and having sexual pleasures. It also obliges the faithful to be more caring, helpful and fulfilling toward the needs of other fellow believers of the faith.
Despite the fact that I’ve always viewed myself as someone born into the religion more by chance than by choice and that I’ve always had this feeling that certain beliefs were thrust upon me than I would have liked, there are certain things I like about the festive month.
Back in Pakistan, where I have lived most of my life, the month would bring along a whole culture of its own. It would revive certain norms and customs that were otherwise forsaken.
For instance, the month would engender a sense of empathy among well-to-do people for their needy neighbors and underprivileged people. Alms or Zakat, enshrined as one of the five pillars of the religion that obliges the-haves to give a certain portion of their yearly earnings and overall value of possessions in form of charity to the poor, would be distributed among people in need. The amount would not help much, but it would enable the recipients to buy basic commodities of life and the like.