Like a touch of balm on a fevered brow, the month of Ramadan with its spiritually uplifting and vivifying lessons returns to give us pause and reflect on our life path and purpose. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar and one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan requires all Muslims to undertake a fast from dawn to dusk so they can understand the hardships and deprivation of their brethren and use this understanding to nurture their gratitude to the divine for the blessings they have received.
Across the globe, across time zones, societies and nationalities, from one end of the earth to the other, through the longest daylight hours, Muslims of the world stand as one people to embrace the guidance of Ramadan as they fast, say special prayers, carry on with their everyday duties and open their hearts and homes to embody the values of sharing, compassion, generosity and charity.
In the UAE, with its diversity of peoples and religions, Ramadan is a deeply rewarding experience for non-Muslims too. For many, it is a first-time experience that gifts them with a better understanding of the treasure house of spirituality that is Islam. They observe from close quarters, and first-hand, the sheer humanism and benevolence of Islam. They get to see how in Ramadan, in the act of surrendering to the divine, the human body, mind and spirit seamlessly transcend the mundane and the gross. They learn how the rigours of long hours of fasting, going without water, in weather that can otherwise push the human body to its outermost limits of tolerance, shower on the individual the infinitely precious rewards of patience, empathy and humility.
They observe how whether rich or poor, a high-flying executive or a simple worker, Ramadan eliminates disparities among people, brings down the walls and reiterates the message of brotherhood and giving. As they observe their Muslim friends, colleagues and neighbours and members of the community steep themselves in its spirit, it affords them too an opportunity too to slow down their own frenetic pace and find a balance between the spiritual and the worldly.
This need to turn inward and find the true meaning of being human has never been more urgent than in these times of increasing intolerance of each other’s identities. Ramadan provides the guiding light to humanity to return to the shores of peace and coexistence, brotherhood and tolerance, and live life in a state of gratitude and love.