When the sun sets in the horizon, rich people rush for a glass of fresh juice and minted dates flavoured by saffron, while all the poor can manage is a glass of water and wait in a long queue at mosques for something decent to eat.
There is no need to remind each other how many people need our help this Ramadhan.
The pang of hunger is felt in the same way, whether one is rich or poor.
But it is always the same in every month.
We preach but we don’t practice what we say while all the time the poor get the wrong side of the bargain.
There is a famous Arabic saying, “If your hand touches the paradise you will never feel the other person’s hand burnt by fire.”
Last week, to demonstrate that further, I was parking my car at a shopping mall and before I started walking to the entrance, I saw a man going through a rubbish bin, just barely three days before the start of Ramadhan.
The same shopping mall has a supermarket and a food court that probably stock a million variety of foods at any given month.
Yet, we have people going through the bins looking for a scrap of a meal everyday.
There are speeches every evening in every mosque reminding people about giving money to the poor, but the words are carried by the wind and dissipated in the air.
I also see people, during these speeches sending messages in their mobile phones oblivion to the advice.
Compassion is a rare emotion these days, especially when the stomach is full.
Most of us are so engrossed with our personal lives that we forget those who need us.
The month of Ramadhan is no longer a priority to most of us.
It is just another month in the annual calendar that repeats itself and every time it does, it seems to lose its appeal and meaning in our hardened hearts. We sometimes consider people in need as pests. For example, beggars are not real in need but opportunists looking for easy money.
On second note, how would we know a genuine poor if they just locked themselves at home? The real poor, in our assumption, are a proud creed.
They do not advertise their plight.
They do not rummage the bins nor knock our doors.
In this case, we pretend that there are no poor people since they do not advertise themselves.
But we know for a fact that many people live in poverty. We don’t want to give them because we pretend they don’t exist.
But questions we should ask ourselves in this month, it is not what is right or wrong but what is the right thing to do.
A week ago, a little girl was selling frankincense in the car park near shops.
My first feeling was of anger.
How could her parents use their daughter to beg? But was it begging or a form of business to earn money? After I cooled down, I realised that no family would use their children selling something no one would really want if they are not desperate for money.
Then there is that argument of giving charity.
If we all give regular charity to such families then they would not bother to send their children on to the streets.
I remember my grandmother having a box that she put a few pennies on everyday basis.
That loose change, she would tell us, was for the needy.
She would empty it on a day before Ramadhan and give the money to the poor.
What I learned from that early age, that with the right frame of mind, then we can all do the right thing. And it takes very little to do it with the right planning.
Saleh Al Shaibany