Every year, when Ramadan month begins in Bahrain, my respect for Muslims here and around the world, grows up higher. And it has been happening for over 30 years now.
So, you can say I am obviously full of praise and appreciation for the commitment and dedication with which my Muslim friends follow this
month-long period of fasting and prayer; an important duty among the five pillars of Islam.
Of all the five – shahada (Islamic Creed), salah (daily prayers), zakat (alms giving), sawm (fasting during Ramadan) and Hajj
(pilgrimage to Mecca), I feel sawm is a very difficult one to follow, as it involves not eating or drinking anything throughout the day – from sunrise to sundown.
This voluntary physical deprivation in order to focus on spiritual edification is very unique to Islam, even though fasting is followed by many religions.
With the heat of Bahrain, going higher and higher each day, I am amazed at how my Bahraini friends, with genuine faith, and unshaken dedication are fulfilling this religious act. And I see it being done, not merely out of obligation, but out of sincere and unwavering faith.
During Ramadan months, I have seen many friends who try and complete the reading of the Holy Quran. I have seen many who spend additional time in prayer. I have seen many who vow not to eat heavily in the nights, and go ahead to actually feed the needy. I have seen many give great portions of their earnings for worthy causes. I have seen many who clear away their debts. All this I have seen as being done as a revival and refreshment of lifestyles – so that they become more acceptable to the Almighty. This attitude and action is also unique to Islam.
As a Christian, I can say that the Holy Bible too focuses on fasting a lot. And Jesus too, taught the importance of fasting and its principles which are followed by many. But I see it not being followed with the same dedication that I see in many Muslim friends.
Though not by all Christians, many follow ‘lent’, a 40-day period of fasting and prayer every year. It is not a mandatory or obligatory religious act. So, I have observed that the commitment to it is very weak. However, I have seen some Christians trying to complete books of the Bible and abstain from several luxuries during this time.
But the seriousness and sincerity I see among Muslims during Ramadan is simply incredible. It is a reflection of the deep rooted spiritual anchor to which Islam’s wholesome traditions and religious activities are strongly bound.
The faith that sustains us is important for our lives – past, present and future. And I wish all my Muslim friends, in Bahrain and abroad, Ramadan Kareem.
May this month be a blessing to all.