NOWADAYS it is my daily duty to buy fresh market items such as fish and vegetables to be cooked by my wife. During this Ramadan she does the cooking in the late afternoon; an hour or two before 'iftar' (breaking of fast).
Before going my way to buy those items, normally I would stop at my parent's house to see to their well-being. Often I would engage in discussions on religion with my mother; at times on light matters such as what we would be having for 'buka puasa' (iftar) on that day.
One day while discussing the subject, she told me that there were three classes of people regarding their attitude on food - the poor and unfortunate would wonder whether there would be food or enough of it for them to 'buka puasa', the middle class would ask what would they have for the event, while the rich would ask at which hotel or luxury restaurant would they break their fast.
"Well, if that is the yardstick, then we fall into the second category; that's why I am on going to the grocery shop to see what raw items I should buy," I said and was on my way after saying 'salam' and kissing her hand.
In the car, over Radio IKIM; I heard an 'ustaz' say: "If we are busy thinking about what to have for 'buka puasa', then please think about the plight of the Palestinians during this Ramadan. Here is one place there's a possibility when one takes sahur on earth and for iftar, he or she is already in heaven."
During this holy month of Ramadan, for days Zionist Israel has launched air strikes on Gaza; the death toll has been reported to be about 50 people at time of writing.
On July 8th Gaza suffered one of its bloodiest days in recent years, with 22 people, including nine children and six women, killed in airstrikes in day two of Israel's Protective Edge campaign. Strikes by drones and missiles leave dozens dead and a population terrified.
'Insha-Allah' (if Allah Wills), the nine children are without sins, if they took sahur in the early morning, 'then for iftar they would already be in heaven'. Air strikes in Gaza continue thus the death toll including among children would be on the rise, but what has the world community including Muslims done to stop this brutal atrocity during the holy month of Ramadan?
Not only the Palestinians have been left alone by the Muslim world, Muslims in countries where they are minorities such as in Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar and India too have had to face hardship themselves. It was reported that the Uighurs in East Turkistan (Xinjiang) are subjected to ill treatment and human rights violation and during this Ramadan they are not allowed to fast which is the third pillar in Islam.
This Ramadan too the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are having a tough time; their masjids have been attacked and burnt down; thousands of them have been left their homeless in Arakan.
Well, back to what my mother had said about the classes of people and their food; of course the majority of Muslims in countries such as Palestine and Myanmar fall into the third category of people - they would be wondering whether there would be food or enough of it for them to break fast.
Or worst of all they would wonder if they would still be alive to haveiftar! Or would they still be able to have 'iftar on earth' but without their loved ones such as their mothers and fathers who may have died just a few hours ago!
Opposite to what the Palestinians, Rohingas and Uighurs are facing, there are many Muslims including in Malaysia who are living 'the extravagant way of life' including being involved in wastage of food and time during Ramadan.
Almost everyone including non-Muslims know that Ramadan is the month when Muslims abstain from taking food and drink during the day. So Ramadan is about taking less food (because you can only eat after sunset) but the irony of it, Ramadan is the month where some Muslims spend so much money on it.
Ramadan teaches us to feel the pangs of hunger and misery of the poor people of the world. It has been reported that one person in the world dies every three seconds due of hunger. So wasting of food is criminal. But how is the situation in our country and other rich Muslim nations where the word ‘hunger’ seems ‘quite unfamiliar’ to us, and seemingly is happening in faraway lands. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) it was reported that 500 tons of food are thrown away each year in the holy month of Ramadan!
So to Muslim brothers and sisters, do not indulge in such empty, hollow and unbeneficial deeds, for Allah SWT says in Surah Al-Asr: "Verily! Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harm, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah's cause)."
During this Ramadan, please do think and make 'du'a' (supplication) for the Palestinians, the Rohingyas, the Uighurs, the Kashmiris and all 'unfortunate Muslims' of the world because the Prophet s.a.w. has said in a hadith that Muslims are like one body of a person; if the eye is sore, the whole body aches, and if the head aches, the whole body aches. (Narrated by Nu'man bin Bashir, Shahih Muslim)
Our hearts are always with you - all our brothers in Islam especially those living in Palestine; insha-Allah we will meet in 'jannah'; please pray hard to fulfill their wishes in this holy month of Ramadan. Insha-Allah it would be fulfilled for it is Allah's offer to those who supplicate sincerely to Him. -ES