Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Ramadhan: What does it mean to me?

Thought for the Day
BBC Radio Scotland
Tuesday 2nd September 2008
Amanullah De Sondy

The holy month of Ramadhan has arrived and Muslims all over the world are fasting for thirty days but to be quite honest I'm worried. Worried because sunrise to sunset in Scotland is the longest it's ever been in my lifetime, as the month of Ramadhan is based on the lunar calendar which goes back ten days every year, and fasting without food or drink for sixteen hours daily is not an easy task.

However, as I woke up this morning to have some food during the night I began to ponder over what fasting really means to us. I remember asking young Muslim kids why they do it and their answer was quite simple, to remember all those who have no food. There are many reasons why Muslims fast and it would not be untrue to state that some fast just because everyone else is doing it, 'in the spirit of things', I'm sure they would say. In the Qur'an it states quite clearly that fasting is solely to strengthen the relationship with God. I believe that the very act of fasting leaves a Muslim in a position of ultimate submission to God. This is when I am at my weakest and it is at this point that I am reminded of humanity.

During this time of hunger and God's remembrance, our thoughts turn to those fleeing hurricane Gustav from the southern US coast. Nearly 1.9 million residents of New Orleans were told to 'get their butts out of the city' by the cities Mayor, Ray Nagin. I wonder how Muslims and non-Muslims are coping in these difficult times? At the end of my long fast when I sit down with my family at home we will pray together for those without homes not knowing where their next meal will come from. In this way I understand that my fast is within a different context than what it means to someone who has lived in fear of the hurricane. And so I am left considering the way in which our daily acts, be they religious or non-religious, can offer us all some food for thought on those ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations.

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