The holy month of Ramadhan will begin in a few days. It will be the beginning of another period of time for renunciation as well as reflection and spiritual growth.
During the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, we found the believers experiencing Ramadhan in a new world amid lockdowns and ban on movements. Believers found ways of replacing the usual social traditions with new customs, in efforts to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Although the holiest month in the Muslim calendar will again be observed under the shadow of the dreaded pandemic, which is still a real threat, the relief is that there are no stringent measures except for the precautionary measures like controls on gatherings and ban on mass iftars.
Of course, as experts suggest, this Ramadhan, too, is more important than ever as we are required to remain vigilant and make compromises for the sake of our health, as well as the health of our communities and others.
We should not ignore the recent statement by Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, that the coronavirus is still prevalent, and that the precautionary measures should not be scrapped or neglected.
We were witnesses last year to social events marking the season leading to increase in the number of infected people over the following weeks. This Ramadhan, we must not let our short-term desire to spend time with others putting more people at risk.
Let us all pledge to keep a safe distance, so that we can celebrate the many more happy occasions like the Eids to come. The guidelines and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization last year on safe practices on physical distancing measures that need to be taken during prayers, pilgrimages, communal meals and other social or religious events are still valid.
The vaccination drive by the government has provided us new hope in our fight for survival. Still there is much to be done in a pandemic-free world. The precautionary measures, if followed in the right earnest, will allow us to enjoy good health and the true spirit of Ramadhan.
As the holy month is that of giving, let us make use of its spirit to help individuals, communities and countries in need. Instead of setting up big iftars, we should endeavour to help the poor and the needy.
During Ramadhan, people tend to buy more than their normal requirements for self-consumption plus for taking care of guests. Due to the limited quantity of food to be consumed by people this additional quantity of cooked or made food becomes waste.
Arab nations in particular, generate huge quantities of food waste which increases substantially during the month of Ramadhan and festivals whereby the consumption and wastage of food increase at an alarming level.
Food wastage can lead to an increase in food prices as it increases demand in relation to supply. Moreover, we are highly dependent on food imports which are usually transacted in US dollars.
Need to remember that fasting is an act of worship, a way to become more compassionate to those in need, and a chance to get closer to God! Along with the key tenets of this holy month – prayer, reflection, charity – also ensure our physical and mental well-being, causing no harm to others and helping the poor!