x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Turn Ramadan's sacrifices into a lesson in moderation

Meaningful use of natural resources is not merely a personal choice, but a duty for a God-fearing Muslim.

We are in the middle of the Holy Month of Ramadan and - as Muslims - a time when we focus on our spirituality. Observing our fast is a religious duty, however, refraining from food and drinks during daylight hours is not just what this duty is all about.

Fasting is meant to be a matter of the mind rather than the body and can teach us many lessons. One of them is the lesson of modesty.

The first days of fasting during Ramadan always have the same impact on me: it isn't so easy and I feel a bit weak. Things change after some days, and suddenly I feel fine - even energetic and powerful, even though I am eating less than usual and I sleep less than usual.

Most fasting people will agree that it feels as if the mind is getting sharper. And then I start thinking: isn't fasting also about a more meaningful approach toward the resources God has provided for us? We can be perfectly fine with much less than what we consume on a "normal" day.

As such, I think Ramadan is a perfect time to rethink our personal habits when it comes to our use of water, energy, petrol and even fresh air. All these we use as it pleases us and we are used to having them available. Ramadan can teach us a lesson in modesty when it comes to the use of those resources as well. Do we really need to use the precious desalinated water that is available to us for washing our cars on almost a daily basis?

I am not so unrealistic as to think that each litre I spare on my car wash will come to aid a child in Africa suffering from thirst. But I know for a fact that the UAE, as a country with very limited resources of naturally drinkable water, has far above the average water consumption per capita as compared to other countries. Is it really necessary to cool each and every room to Arctic temperatures, while outside temperatures during our desert summer can reach 50 degrees or more?

Of course it is great that we now have air-conditioned houses, shops and restaurants, but does it make sense that so many public spaces are so cold that people need to wear jackets?

The UAE is blessed with its oil resources, and compared to European countries, petrol in our region is very reasonably priced. But does it mean that we should ignore the types of cars that run on 4 to 5 litres of petrol per 100km, and stick to our very thirsty 4x4s?

Meaningful use of natural resources is not merely a personal choice, but a duty for a God-fearing Muslim, and therefore I see the month of Ramadan as a perfect time to reflect on our lifestyles and rethink and readjust ourselves in balance with nature.