Ramadhan Kareem… the religious time of the renewal, or re-affirmation of the faith is upon us again, and though it will be celebrated modestly this year amidst the pandemic, that could well be a good thing in terms of meeting the nation’s current need for reflection.
To be honest, religious reflection is something that is intensely private for me. I do not feel that I can share even the where or when of my most intense religious experiences with those closest to me, let alone the what, so I will not dwell upon the topic. I will say however that, my understanding of how the religious commitment to the fast as a means of demonstrating empathy for, and an understanding of the experiences of those less fortunate, is uniquely balanced by my awareness of the joy of celebrating with the wider family, evident in the demeanor and excitement, often sometimes beatific expressions of joy, and bliss.
This Ramadhan, however, must embrace a greater cause.
This Ramadhan’s observance cannot be traditional, or more will perish.
This Ramadhan must embrace social distancing.
The Supreme Committee and the government of this amazing nation must be tearing their hair out in frustration that the populace has failed to understand and embrace the need for social reticence, and distancing, for isolation and separation, to stay alive, and keep others alive. Nobody likes being isolated! It is the opposite of what we, as humans are. We are social creatures, but if the current societal behaviour, across the Sultanate continues, the ‘Jewel of the Arabian Gulf’ will become itself a pariah, an outcast in a world that is coming to terms with the needs of the pandemic and liberating itself, far quicker than we are.
Look around you, at home, at work, at play, wherever you are, and you will see people not masking, maybe with masks around their chins. You will still have visitors and you will still visit, either because “it is our way,” because “corona is finished,” or because “no corona here.” Such responses are deceptive and dangerous. Acceptable only in the eyes of those who utter them, and dangerous to all. When will you understand that Covid-19 is not a myth, is not a media ‘beat-up,’ and is real, dangerous, and takes lives indiscriminately? Many who have lost loved ones regret their laxity, but it is too late by then. Do not be among those who will forever bear the pain of thinking they knew best.
Ramadhan 2021 must become a national opportunity for this nation to come together and demonstrate, along with its messages of faith, a message to the world that we can ‘suffer’ socially and societally, for the greater good, that we can all distance ourselves from others, and that we can do this for each other.
The harsh reality of rejecting this opportunity is that without social responsibility, and consequent economic recovery, the Sultanate faces a future devoid of prospect, and that would surely be a damning indictment of us all. We must, for this one month, demonstrate an awareness of the magnitude of the challenge facing this generation, assume the responsibility for maintaining opportunities and prospects for the next generation, and make distancing as important to us as reflection.
Work with your government and Supreme Committee, your health workers and law enforcement, your friends and neighbours, and we will beat this most insidious of foes… Inshallah.