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The holy month of Ramadan is here. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, some of the practices suspended over the last two Ramadans as necessary Covid-19 safety measures are being gradually done away with this year.

Traditionally, the fasting month is a season of spiritual reward through religious communion and charitable work. The spirit of the season will be back this year.

Ramadan is an important time. It teaches us how to exercise restraint and control. While fasting, the faithful are not only forbidden from eating and drinking but are also not allowed to indulge in the basest of human emotion.

The moral lesson is amply clear: As the faithful stay away from food, we are expected to empathise with those among us who are less fortunate. It teaches us both empathy and gratitude.

This is not always an easy feat. To straddle work and family and prayer comes with its own set of challenges but that is the test the faithful must endure.

Fasting softens the heart, making it more receptive and humble. Perhaps this is the wisdom that links together fasting and prayer — two noble acts of worship that symbolise this holy month.

But Ramadan is more than fasting and praying. It is a month of giving too, and as Islam says, one must not sleep with full stomach whilst their neighbour goes hungry.

We all have a duty and moral obligation to remember those less privileged in this blessed month.

An important part of this month is to share with those in need. We also have to remember the millions of refugees in this region and beyond.

Every contribution, even the little ones, helps. And there are many initiatives endorsed by the relevant authorities in the UAE to help the poor to which we can donate.

We must never lose sight of the fact that the world may have overcome the pandemic in large parts but the virus still lurks around. Therefore, caution is the byword.

Keeping in view the general precautionary and preventive measures, face masks must be worn indoors in crowded places and we must remain committed to social distancing, regularly washing and sanitising hands and frequently sanitising surfaces and equipment. Those distributing Ramadan meals must don suitable safety equipment.

Together, let us ensure a safe and spiritual month of fasting. Ramadan Kareem.