By Ray Petersen — The Holy Month of Ramadhan is upon us, and it’s a different experience, even after eight years in the Sultanate, to observe how some people prepare themselves for the month of commemoration of the very first revelation of the Holy Quran, to the Prophet Mohammed.
It behoves those of us of other faiths to respect not only the spirit, intent and acts of faith that guide those of the Islamic faith during this time of heightened religious awareness, but also to respect the unique consequences of living and working in such an unforgiving and challenging climate as we do, right now.
Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan writes of, “A battle going on inside you for 30 days during Ramadhan, and for 30 days Allah gives you the power to win!” This then, surely indicates the gravity with which the Islamic faith places upon Ramadhan, and, to be honest, given that many other beliefs are built around celebration much more so than even inner conflict, those sentiments are understandably difficult to relate to, especially for newcomers to this society.
We need to be prepared to “cut a little bit of slack,” for as the inner man is not nourished according to their usual habits, and given the climatic effects of higher temperatures, humidity and longer daylight hours, there is certain to be some reduction in productivity. I have read previously that, “None of us is expected to be perfect during Ramadhan, but that should not prevent us from trying to be so.” I think that’s a fairly straightforward attitude to take during the holy month.
Let’s all simply take the opportunity to take on board our own reflections, and wisdom from wherever we take it, and “chill out,” mentally, for this few weeks. Our world isn’t a place of rest. It rarely lets us rest on our laurels, for as we achieve one thing, one task, or one level, something else comes along to ‘niggle’ at us. This is a world, and a generation, of testing not resting, and the reality is that achieving that one thing simply opens up another opportunity. We all need time for reflection to gain inner strength, and in this one resolve we can be as one.
It’s also a possibility for each of us to embrace the spirit of Ramadhan by making a charitable offering to a needy section of our society, or doing some charitable deed.
These acts of charity, over and above those normally offered as zakat, are known as Sadaqah, are greatly appreciated and a feature of the Ramadhan. Any such contributions would be a significant gesture towards our own embrasure of a society that continues to embrace and include us.
Unlike Christmas, as celebrated by Christianity, the overt signs of Ramadhan are fairly sparse here in Oman, and generally limited to retailers merchandising quite extravagantly, and car dealerships ramping up their pamphlet distribution and ‘Special Ramadhan Offers’. It must be the boom month for motor vehicle sales.
I understand however, that the Egyptian Muslims put on a great show of lighting up Cairo, in a tradition that originated a thousand years ago, in the time of the Fatimid Caliphate as the Ruler was greeted with special lanterns by his adoring population.
The simplicity of the Omani perspective of Ramadhan, and the absolute certainty of the young Omanis in their faith, was yet again spelled out for me by one of my students.
She put a magnificent ‘full-stop’ to a discussion on the ramifications of the Holy Month, saying, “Doctor, it’s not a month of difficulties or problems. We will be challenged, but I have always been told that there are more than one and a half million seconds during this month, that’s one and a half million opportunities to put right whatever is wrong, right! Right?”