Islam is a communitarian and collectivist religion that cares very much about the welfare of the individual within his social group and the solidarity of society and its inclusiveness.
Rabat – It prescribes good relations between members of society because if society is strong and healthy, the Ummah, or community, will undoubtedly fare well. It also prescribes respect for other religions and cultures and the search for peace and brotherhood between humanity worldwide.
Love thy neighbor: collective solidarity
One of the important values of the religion of Islam is beneficial cooperation and mutual understanding according to the following Surah:
“Help one another in righteousness and in warding off evil, but do not help one another to commit sin and transgression.”
Thus, Allah instructs all Muslims to help each other form a strong social structure in a community based on the values of solidarity, mutual support, and caring about the welfare of the other. This is further emphasized in a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH:
Helping each other is undoubtedly an action that is double-edged:
- Caring: showing interest in the other and providing support and help when necessary;
- Sharing: helping the needy and the poor of society.
The caring and sharing values have been sanctified by the Prophet in his various Hadiths, he spoke so kindly of the neighbor that the faithful believed they would inherit from those around them.
If the Prophet makes the jar “neighbor” a very important member of society, it means that collective solidarity is the most important aspect of social Islam. Furthermore, the Prophet did not specify that the jar “neighbor” must be a Muslim, so this means that good treatment of people in your environment applies to all people irrespective of their religion, color or social status. Besides sharing and caring, Allah instructed the Muslims, to read the Qur’an during this holy month of Ramadan, not mechanically, but rather thoughtfully and reflectively to make its salient contours ring in the Faithfull’s ear and to highlight in his soul and spirit such values such as:
- Peace and brotherhood of all men;
- Respect of the other and full acceptance of his “otherness”;
- Respect of seniority;
- Sharing and caring;
- Mutual social responsibility;
- Equality and equity;
- Show of affection and love; etc.
Islam is not only about prayer it is about good relationships and good treatment of others:
“Religion is good treatment of others”
The Qur’an states quite clearly that Ramadan is preferred to 1000 months
because it is meant to be the epitome of Islamic thought and philosophy hinging on such lofty values as:
- Good relations between people;
- Responsibility towards other members of society;
- Internal and external peace;
- Showing active solidarity; etc.
Momentum of tolerance, peace, and benevolence
The month of Ramadan is definitely a month of sharing and solidarity. One of the five pillars of Islam, this month represents four weeks of charity, frugality, and piety during which Muslims must show selflessness and support to the poor.
This momentum of solidarity is shared by both Muslims and non-Muslims, reflecting the values of tolerance, benevolence, and peace that bring them together. During this holy month many individuals and associations share and give to families in need so, at the time of the break of the fast, all families can gather to share this festive meal.
This message of humanity is further proof that the values of respect prevail between different religions. Whether in the form of financial aid or basket distribution, benefactors who can afford to help those in need or who are far from their families give generously. In this approach, no part of the population is sidelined, especially the elderly who also take part in the activities organized for them by associations.
The purpose of fasting during Ramadan is to welcome religious fervor of great intensity, to seek repentance and forgiveness, but also to prepare the faithful for what might be called social altruism.
The true meaning of Ramadan
The month of Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar. This month marks the beginning of the revelation of the Qur’an made to the Prophet Muhammad. Ramadan is also the month of fasting par excellence. The fast of the month of Ramadan is one of the ritual obligations of Islam and also one of the five pillars of the Muslim religion. A month of spirituality and solidarity, each year more than a billion and a half Muslims celebrate this event in joy and sharing.
Voluntary deprivation of food is a reminder of hunger, suffering, and poverty in the world. From Tangier to Jakarta and from Nouakchott to Kabul, Muslims find on a daily basis the true meaning of the universal of humanity, respect, and mutual help in order to strengthen social bonds.
By fasting, the rich understand what the underprivileged live on a daily basis. While, in turn, the poor can benefit from the generosity of the neighbor to eat well during this month. Popular social activities include food aid operations to help the needy break their fast by distributing food parcels or offering hot meals. These operations are often organized by associations, societies or simply families.
It has been reported that the Prophet Muhammad said, “The best alms is the one bestowed during the month of Ramadan”.
Ramadan is not about boulimia
Very much like Christmas in the Western world, Ramadan has become, alas, a month-long festival of compulsive eating, whereas, in reality, Islam deprives people of food, water, and other carnal pleasures during daylight to awaken in the individual the values of solidarity and empathy.
The poor suffer from lack of food all day, every day, and a good Muslim by experiencing this suffering during a whole month. The pain of hunger is meant to be a pedagogical approach to make us aware of the predicament of the other in order to care about him all year long and not only a few days or a few weeks.
Ramadan is also about abstaining from eating too much food and stuffing oneself on end at night.
Ramadan is supposed to activate in the good Muslim the values of empathy and generosity: sharing food, time, love, and respect with the needy on a daily basis, yearlong.
Fasting is also a healthy personal enterprise; it helps the body eliminate the toxins that come in different foods and beverages all the year around.
Almsgiving, whether obligatory or optional, is a fundamental institution of solidarity. It is important to note that the Quranic and prophetic texts do not exclude non-Muslims from humanitarian aid. If a Muslim (sick, pregnant, traveler, etc.) is unable to fast during the month of Ramadan, he is asked to feed a poor man every day. Thus the rite of fasting can be replaced by the rite of almsgiving. In other words, the social act (almsgiving) equates and replaces at the same time the spiritual act (the fast of Ramadan).
Its purpose is to free the human being from the shackles of material dependence, negative habits, blind consumption, routine, and performance. By this, he reinforces his spirituality and his submission to God (Muslim means the one who is submissive to God -). It is in fact to revitalize his spirituality. Ramadan is the initiation to a true liberation by the fasting of the soul, the invitation to apprehend the divine presence by the fasting of the heart. The solidarity shown on this occasion is also a way for the community of Muslims to bond and to give alms to the poor. Amen.