x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emirati Life: Ramadan is a time to get closer to God, not to overeat and shop

Muslims have to seize the month of Ramadan, but in the right way.

Every year, Muslims go back to their training academy, known as Ramadan. The past 11 months outside of Ramadan, we have been feeding our bodies with food, drink and intimacy - often neglecting and starving our souls. During Ramadan, it's the opposite - Muslims starve their bodies by staying away from physical things so they can develop God-consciousness and thus replenish their souls.

The command to fast is mentioned only once in the Quran and this commandment is pretty well implemented by almost all Muslims - the most religious and irreligious. But Allah reminds us that the main goal of Ramadan is not torturing yourself by refraining from eating and drinking. It is about improving God-consciousness. Fasting is just a way prescribed by God to reach the goal of getting closer to him.

It seems as if, year after year, many Muslims miss out on the point of this blessed month. For many, Ramadan has become the month of feasting. It is unfortunate that overeating takes place, women complain about workload in the kitchen, men drive like maniacs and the middle-of-the-night gatherings of friends and families take precedence over prayer.

Another irony is how grocery shopping reaches its peak. Usually, shopping carts are half-full during non-Ramadan months, but just before the start of the Holy Month, the carts are overflowing. These 30 days of fasting must not be commercialised - it is not about consuming, but about putting some restrictions on our consumption.

It is saddening to see that almost every year there are reports of overeating during iftar. As a Muslim nation, we are sending the wrong message about Ramadan and its main goal to our children and to non-Muslims. If we ask non-Muslims living in the UAE about what comes to their minds when they hear the word Ramadan, I assume most would probably say: Vimto, iftar buffets, tiredness, hunger and thirst.

Iftar is about breaking your fast, not self-poisoning and overdosing. Some people use iftar to make up for a whole day of not eating. There is nothing wrong with eating, but it must be done within limits and reason.

Ramadan is here again, so that we may show gratitude for all the blessings we have been enjoying. Food, water, a good night's sleep and money are taken for granted. Every year, a month is dedicated to acknowledging all the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us by abstaining from them.

These days are precious and a chance to take advantage of this golden month through extra prayers at night, improving your relationship with the glorious Quran and supplications.

Once the month of Ramadan ends, all Muslims who fasted will receive their certificates of attestation, which is the celebration of Eid and the glorifying of Allah for that to which he guided us.

Seize the month of Ramadan; it is a limited-time offer that's only available for 30 days and, who knows, you might not be present to witness the month - and the offer that comes with it - next year.

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