Now that Ramadan has come to an end and is rapidly becoming a fading memory, its passing should not signal the end of exertions of goodwill and worship that have governed us in the last month.
Ramadan is a month marked by Muslims the world over by the abstinence of food, drink, and worldly pleasures between sunrise and sunset. They practise patience and humility and pray for forgiveness and absolution for their sins.
It is also a period when many renew or strengthen their faith into the oneness of Islam through the reading of the Quran, and perform charitable actions towards the less fortunate.
And as the citizens of this region have participated in family gatherings and reunions in recent days, let us spare a thought for the countless Muslim expatriates among us who stood side by side with us in worship in prayer halls and mosques, many who have most likely celebrated the dawn of Eid in solitude, away from family and friends.
Millions of such expatriates have come and gone, and millions remain among us today, some alone and distant from their families, tasked with the duties of helping oil the machinery that makes this region run.
Many perform to the expectations required, mostly in silence. Their isolation and loneliness in a land different than their own cannot be simply compensated by the dirhams or dollars they earn.
Leaving behind fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, these expatriates who reside amongst us ask little of us as they fulfil their duties. And yet they love and feel like the rest of us; the joys and pains that course through our emotions are not alien to them.
Separated on a day meant for togetherness, many would have celebrated Eid in solitude and bitter loneliness, particularly those without the means to bring their families over to join them.
Let us honour them like we honour our own. Let us bestow upon them our best wishes as we do upon those near and dear to us. Let us thank them and expatriates of other faiths as well for the sacrifices they are making daily by leaving their loved ones behind and coming to this country to help us forge a better life.
Many move around us, barely visible or seen. Yet they continue in their toil, expecting very little gratitude from their hosts while putting in an honest day's work.
Let us begin by ensuring that their rights are protected and dispensed with in the manner and spirit that Ramadan has roused in us.
The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the All-Merciful [Allah]. Be merciful to those on Earth, Allah will be merciful to you."
This mercy extends to the proper execution of our obligations to our guest workers.
The Prophet also said, "The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, their mutual mercy, and their mutual affection, is like a single body. If any part of it complains of an injury, the entire body responds with sleeplessness and fever… Allah will continue to help the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother."
This narration emphasises the fact that our mercy as servants to our faith shouldn't be confined to our immediate circle of family members and acquaintances. Rather it should extend to the entire nation of people.
This Eid, most of us would have enjoyed the blessings of ample food and gifts. But we should never forget those among us, and especially the less fortunate expatriates from third world countries whose daily existence is akin to a continuous fast. These noble men and women deserve our thanks.
Those of us who have fasted and congregated in prayer at night during this past month with sincere faith must continue to be diligent and dutiful in our worship of Allah, and kind to our fellow residents including the silent expatriate. Such obligations must continue in good faith, even though Ramadan has come to an end this year.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.