Focus of Ramadan: Prayers for Peace

The month of Ramadan has begun again. And yesterday was the first full day when Muslims around the words fasted.

Now, as the month-long fasting and prayers go on, I cannot but think of the people suffering and dying in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and many other places.

Many do not really have to start fasting. They have not eaten anything from a long time, much before Ramadan.

UN camps that have been set-up for relief and for humanitarian effort are asking for more food to feed the hungry refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. There simply does not seem to be enough.

And the scorching summer and growing violence in these regions, tell us that this land is not really yearning for water and food, as much as it is yearning for peace and stability.

Ironically, the word ‘Ramadan’ comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness.

This is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, a month set apart for fasting, prayer and worship.

And let us hope that people will really observe it as holy; a month when violence and hatred is shunned.

Let us hope that everyone will look to the Almighty, to reflect on what unites us, rather than on what divides us.

Just a few days ago, I saw a video of two girls, probably aged 10 and 12, with their mother, in an abaya and hijab, being stopped by Israeli border policemen.

The mother tries to negotiate with the men to let her pass, and the argument grows bigger. The mother is soon arrested and bundled off into a military van, and taken away.

The children who are held by other men struggle, scream, and escape from the hands of the policemen, and start panting and running behind the van that slowly disappears into the dust; and into the distant dry mountains.

I saw another heart-rending video a few days ago, supposedly from Iraq or Syria. In it, I saw, several unarmed men being made to kneel down in a public place, with their hands behind their back, perhaps tied. They are then cruelly, brutally shot down by machine guns.

Seeing the men fall down into their own pools of blood, as they try to gasp for air, as they die, was horribly sickening.

But the tragic part was when I heard the killers scream ‘allah-oh-akbar’, which means ‘God is great’.

I thought, how can the ruthless killers, of fellow human beings, consider that those horrific killings must be celebrated as a great act of God?

How can the wielders of these machine guns, atop tanks, claim God for themselves exclusively; as if all other human beings are enemies not only to them, but also to God?

It made me think of how this month of Ramadan will pass, with terrible state of affairs in the Muslim world, especially of the Middle East.

I believe this is a time to reflect on the merciful God, who wants us to be kind and helpful to our fellow human beings.

I believe this is the time to share what we have, with others, by our charitable attitude, extending our generous hands to the needy.

I believe this is the time to meditate on the Holy Scriptures, looking at what the One above expects us to do in this world filled with anger and hate.

I believe this is a time when, if we have to pray for something, it must be a prayer for PEACE.

And by the time we celebrate Eid, in a month’s time, let us hope it would be a joyous celebration.

Let us hope, it would be celebration with families reunited despite their scattered lives, and of the faithful believers peacefully united despite theological differences.

Ramadan Kareem!