The month of Ramadan is around the corner. For the 1.8 billion Muslims around the globe, it heralds in a month of spiritual reflection, prayers, self-improvement and an intensified devotion and worship of the tenets laid down by religion. For it is in this month that the Quran, the holy book to all Muslims, was revealed by Allah to Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and as such this month is held in reverence by its worshippers.
It is indeed during this month that our reflection takes us on a journey around the world to pause and ponder on the fate of those less fortunate than we are. Today we in the Gulf live in a relatively strive-free zone, but such is not the case elsewhere where Muslims are expected to maintain the strict rigors of the daily fast, devoid of food and water, and yet have to live or endure hardships that are imposed on them from external sources.
It is important for us as Muslims and fellow human beings not to only focus on our own trials and tribulations but to also extend our prayers and concerns elsewhere. In my prayers, I will always think of the Palestinian people and their many daily struggles. I will pray that God eases this month of hardship on them, many of who have been facing physical and emotional trials that are totally alien to us. I pray that God grant them solace and peace and permit them to exercise their holy rituals without external hardships.
I pray for the Muslims of Kashmir, a people long in need of authenticating their identity on the world bodies, a people proud and faithful to their religion, and for whom we should all say a prayer. I pray that they too shall observe this month without losing any of their loved ones to needless bloodshed and sectarian violence. I pray that they do not react to provocations in a manner that would subject them to harm, but strengthen the faith that God will indeed protect them.
I pray for the displaced Rohingya in Myanmar, victims of a regime that have left the Rohingya sitting ducks for the brutality of the Myanmar Army, goaded by the regime that is bent on ethnic cleansing them out of existence. This will be indeed a brutal Ramadan for them and undoubtedly many will be singled out and harmed before the holy month is over. May God help and protect them.
Closer to home I pray for the innocent civilians who have had to suffer the loss and hardships in the ongoing war in Yemen. I fervently pray that the belligerent Houthis accept the unconditional peace proposal presented by the Saudis and the rest of the Arab Coalition as a gesture of kindness to their own people. There is no bigger crime than exposing the innocent to harm needlessly and the Houthis need to understand that.
I pray that the Uighur living in the world’s most populated country will find the peace and solace to execute their religious rituals without hindrance. I pray that they continue to flourish as a people and stay safe and integrated into that very large country. No individual or group of people should be targeted based on their religious beliefs and the Uighur people should be no exception.
I will also pray for the refugees of the Syrian crisis, a people who through no act of their own suddenly found themselves homeless, penniless and in many cases have had lost family members along with all their worldly possessions. Driven out of their own country, they have tried to seek refuge in the few countries that did not drive them back. A people who less than a decade ago were living a simple ordinary life, like you and I, and who today are terrorized by the traumas of being brutally uprooted from their identities.
My prayers also extend to the fate of refugees everywhere, irrespective of faith or religion. In many countries the Muslim and Christian minorities should be allowed to exercise their religious duties in a manner that should not bring them harm. Targeted sectarian violence by groups of thugs and fanatics should be swiftly and justly dealt with. The victims must not be the ones held accountable.
The Indian state, for example, should exercise greater efforts in ensuring the protection of their various minorities, as should be the case in Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and elsewhere.
I also pray that the ruling parties in Iran come to their senses and realise that their meddling into the affairs of neighboring countries will indeed one day spell their own doom. Their people deserve more than ending as the latest 21st-century band of refugees.
Yes indeed, I will spend this month observing my religious rituals and prayer for the poor and oppressed elsewhere. It is the least I can do.
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena