x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My Life: Mariam Al Mehairbi

The lessons of Ramadan should not end once the holy month is over.

It seems as though it was yesterday when the excitement filled our house about Ramadan, as we all sat watching the news, waiting for the announcement of exactly when the holy month would begin.

No matter what happens in life, even in our most difficult and darkest moments, Ramadan is the time of the year that fills us with hope and joy and makes everything better. Unlike any other time of the year, Ramadan has a different feel to it - you wake up in the morning and you just know that you are in the holy month, because you feel different and the community around you feels different.

No matter how hard I try to put it into words, I can't quite fully explain the Ramadan feeling. Throughout the month, I feel as if I'm in a happy dream, with an internal peace and happiness. This is the month that I consider to be the most beautiful of the year, a month when we all become better people, when we reach out to the poor, do good deeds and become closer to God, our families and our communities.

It's a month of forgiveness, of giving, of reflecting on one's life and coming up with resolutions and goals to become better humans. As one scholar said, Ramadan is the time of the year when we feed our souls.

Our world today tells us exactly how to feed and take full care of our mortal bodies in every single way. Whatever needs our bodies have, we know how to meet them, because as humans we've made it our specialisation to take care of the human body.

But what about our souls? And our other needs? Our spiritual needs?

I believe that we don't give our souls as much attention as our bodies, except during Ramadan. Fasting and all the good deeds that one does in Ramadan feed our spiritual needs and take care of our souls. We limit the food intake for our bodies, but we concentrate on feeding our souls, and so at the end of the month we emerge as lighter people both in body and soul.

But why do we make the effort to become better human beings only in Ramadan? Why do we have to feed our souls only once a year? Can't we continue being better humans throughout the year?

Let us take care of our souls as well as our bodies by being good and by doing all the things that will make us better people and have a positive impact on the people around us.

Ramadan may end, but its spirit should not. It should stay with us all year and for the rest of our lives it should be reflected in our deeds in every moment that we've been given on this Earth. Each moment is a precious gift from God and we should live it to the fullest by being the best we can be.

Towards the end of the holy month, you feel a different kind of excitement in the air, people running around doing last-minute shopping, children excited about gifts and "Eidya," the anticipation of seeing old friends and relatives - and that's how you know that a new season will begin.

I can't help but  feel some sadness as my favourite month comes to an end, but I am determined that I will live my life imbued with Ramadan's spirit. The month might end, but the lessons that we learn from it - the sense of balance, peace and happiness that we find in it - will stay forever in our hearts.

 

Mariam Al Mehairbi, an Emirati and a Zayed University graduate, works for the Government.