JUNE 16 — Ramadan is here again; while many relish in the pleasure of physical inactivity and comfortably content themselves with the anticipation of a lavish spread every night Iftar, others take advantage of people belonging to the former category by engaging in various Ramadan-related businesses.
There is a fiercely competitive search for the best deals for everything one needs to welcome Syawal. In Malaysia, at least, Ramadan bazaars are everywhere.
“Lagu Raya” which loosely translates to Raya songs are played at almost every mall.
It is safe to say that, literally everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, immerse themselves in the fun and festivity of the season.
As much as we enjoy these things, have we ever paused to reflect on what Ramadan is really about? Are the pleasures derived from Ramadan the exact same kind of pleasures that Ramadan promises?
Authorities go after those Muslims who do not fast during Ramadan. Legal prosecution and social persecution are a result.
Such embedded fear is somehow met with tacit, if not overt, approval.
It comes as no surprise towards the end of Ramadan that the Muslim community basks in the delight of having been physically able to abstain from food consumption during daylight hours for the whole month.
Again, let’s ask ourselves these questions. Is this what is expected of us by Ramadan? Are we serving the actual purpose of Ramadan?
Most importantly, is Ramadan successful in making us appreciate, not just its presence, but also its significance?
Lest we forget, the obligation to fast, physically, is not the only order decreed by God. Therein descends the Angels by Her permission, on every errand, they say “Peace” continuously till the rise of morning.
Fasting during Ramadan is an obligation in Islam, the aim of fasting is to learn and eventually achieve piety and righteousness.
A clear case should and must be made that in one’s endeavour to reach salvation, it is not to be done to the detriment of others.
It is a self-commissioned journey through neither force nor expense of anyone. One’s choice to fast or otherwise should never prompt any reason to invite a conflict between faith and moral propriety.
Our constant insistence on having our values forced down others’ throats raises concern over the legitimacy of the concept of peace that Islam popularly advocates.
Let us all agree that to begin with, the power to evaluate, judge, and consequently reward or punish lies not with us humble subjects, but with God.
There are so many good values in religion as there are worshippers to deserve them. Likewise, there are so many good reasons to defect a faith for another as they are potential adherents to embrace them.
The responsibility to uphold the sanctity of religion does not fall solely on the shoulders of Muslims, as individuals but also of Islam, as characters.
Islam does not operate in a vacuum. It functions in a manner and form that Muslims seek to circumnavigate the direction towards which its vessel moves.
In spite of the acknowledged importance of being earnest about drawing clear and objective distinctions between the acts of Muslims as opposed to the nature of Islam per se, one must inevitably admit that at the end of the day, Muslims breathe Islam into life.
In the absence of the former, the latter will wilt and die. Likewise, the former cannot last, let alone prosper without the presence and help of the latter.
These two, though seemingly divorced on the surface, are married in so many ways.
Let’s make Ramadan great again. But before that, both Islam and Muslims have a lot of catching up to do.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.