By Mourad El Hanafi
By Mourad El Hanafi
Tinghir, Morocco – As the clock strikes the outset of Ramadan, the ninth and the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims all over the globe get ready to receive this month warmly. They are overwhelmed by a unique zeal to live every single moment of Ramadan yearning to please the Almighty Allah. They all pledge to solely do good. Those who are not praying are now managing to stand in congregational prayers among worshipers in mosques.
The chances of smokers are minimized and those involved in promiscuity are given an opportunity to refrain from such practices, at least during the day of fasting. Vulgar words, lying, lewd jokes, hurtful words, gossiping, arguing, backbiting, swearing, and forged speech are replaced by rewarding hymns and good deeds during Ramadan.
Inspired by the noble messages of Ramadan, national and international associations and organizations are launching campaigns to share Ramadan with others, even those who are adherents of different religions. Likewise, they partake in events extending their hands to the needy and bring smiles to the anemic faces of the poor. By fasting and enduring hunger and heat, we think of the poor who are always in lack of food and shelter over the year and we feel that we are all equal. Ramadan is not just abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and marital relationships from dawn to dusk. It is a gift from our benevolent Creator to rejuvenate our faith and burn off the sins we committed throughout the year, inadvertently or intentionally.
All that I mentioned so far is ideal. It’s all good if Muslims cling to such messages. But what I see in our Moroccan community during Ramadan is really odd. People are considerably distracted by their bellies and the mania for exaggerated consumption. You can see some Moroccan families giving much importance to multicolor tables of miscellaneous kinds of food and sweets. Thus, it’s not surprising that Moroccans’ expenditures in this month skyrocket. The Moroccan high commissariat for planning reveals that Moroccans expend MAD 2.5 million to MAD 7.5 million in Ramadan; more than MAD 1500 is added to our casual expenditures during Ramadan.
We give bad representations about this holy month. We act as though we are deprived from food during the rest of the year. Worse still, many don’t eat all that they prepare and they are not ashamed to throw it within a heap of rubbish. Ramadan is not about the art and the competences of being able to prepare and present fancy tables. It is about the competence of being able to be engrossed in spiritual activities such as voluntary prayers, reviewing the holy Qur’an, to name but a few. Ramadan is a number one chance to learn modesty.
How can women, who spend considerable time preparing those tables, live in the Ramadan spiritual moments as it should be? They spend their time going shopping and perspiring in the heat of the kitchen. Is that what Ramadan is for? Wasting much ado on secondary things? Still, what is striking is that diabetes and digestive diseases appear in Ramadan more than any other time. We sometimes intentionally serve food toxins in our Ramadan tables, according to doctors. Unfortunately, we miss the ultimate goal of this holy month; only socioeconomic questions are brought to the surface.
Ramadan is the zenith of the year, and not the rock bottom. Unfortunately, that’s what you would feel when you go to the greengrocer or any market to get some milk or dates. In some areas, the price of milk rises during Ramadan. Corporate greed increases during Ramadan. In my opinion, it is a shame to seize people’s dire need of milk during Ramadan to get some extra money. It should be the opposite.
Higher prices are also an issue at cafes and restaurants. Enduring the hunger and the thirst during the daylong fast, you have no choice other than to sit there and consume whatever they present to you. I cannot forget when I paid MAD 20 ($2, 5) for few dates and a small cup of milk.
Our visual media also tempts us during the holy month of Ramadan. It doubles its efforts to distract people to get closer to TV. It launches unprecedented sitcoms and soap operas. What if sitcoms were replaced with religious programs? Of course, we would get more knowledgeable about Ramadan and fasting so that we could take advantage of this short month to be closer to the Almighty.
As known in the Sunnah, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH used to tighten his waist belt in the last ten days of Ramadan and prayed all night, even keeping his family awake for prayers (Al-Bukhari). In every Ramadan, many people prove the opposite. As Ramadan draws to a close, their energy goes down. There are also people who get distracted by the preparations for Eid and waste their time in malls and markets.
It’s high time to revisit our practices in this holy month. It’s time that we ask ourselves firm questions: Are we really responding to the purpose of Ramadan? Are we always taking into consideration that Ramadan goes away for eleven lunar months? Ramadan is a special moment of its kind. The Creator sends us this beautiful month every year as an open “invitation” to go running back to Him in humility and repentance.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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