Ramadan is over. Now what?
If you didn’t know, Ramadan is a holy month and one of the basic pillars in Al Islam for Muslims. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting and commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.
In addition to fasting, it is the month in which Muslims spend praying, reading the Holy Quran and recharging their spiritual relationship with God. Fasting not only recharges the faith but has some physical and social benefits as well.
Socially, one gets to see and feel what it’s like to go without food like the poor. We have an opportunity to be more charitable and give to those that don’t have.
Physically, it purifies the body. It is a time to get impurities out of the body, and after the 29 or 30 days, your body will feel like new. Your senses get keener and you feel sharper all over. Hearing, seeing, smelling and your feelings and emotions get sharper as well.
Speaking of feelings, I had feelings I didn’t notice as much in previous Ramadans. I humbly felt more empathy for those experiencing homelessness and poverty than ever before. I related more closely to ones that didn’t have enough food to eat, water to drink or didn’t have the means to provide for themselves or their families.
What’s worse, it saddened me to see so many people who didn’t show any feelings for unfortunate people in our communities. What’s worse, there is so much waste and squander.
I saw people literally throwing food away. We observed stores throwing enormous amounts of food into trash bins because of an expiration date on the container or discarding a container just because it had a dent in it.
I saw people in restaurants eating piles of food, others not eating it all and it being thrown away.
I saw a person toss a drink out of the window of his BMW. The drink splashed on the feet of homeless person holding a sign asking for help. I thought to myself, “How insensitive that was.”
I saw numerous people sleeping at bus stops in the middle of the day. I thought to myself, “What did they do during the night?”
It is said that America’s economy is flourishing like never before. Yet we have so much poverty, decadence and waste. Many instances show a lack of simple neighborly needs. I couldn’t help asking, “Why do we have so much selfish waste and neglect for our fellow human beings?”
I recalled that most scriptures that I know of have verses that reflect the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you.”
It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “None of you is truly a Muslim until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Reported in Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari).
And more importantly, The Holy Quran, Chapter 83, Verse 1 to 4, “Woe to those… who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.”
The Eid, for me, was an opportunity to practice the Golden Rule with a sense of happiness, willingness and appreciation of our fellow human beings withmuch more zeal than before.
The Eid celebration requires that Muslims not only feed the hungry and give to the poor (the basics), but also to visit the sick and infirm. Visit the graves of those who have gone on before us.
Eid for me was a joyous occasion and a time for me to give back and realize what phenomenal blessings we have every single day.
Ramadan and Eid are not just for the Muslims, they are for humanity!
John Akram is a Muslim council member and vice president of membership on the board of the Arizona Interfaith Movement
John Akram Guest columnist