x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ramadan offers time for hope and reflection

Ramadan is also an opportunity for better cross-cultural communication and understanding.

T he expected arrival of Ramadan this week is a reminder for all of us to strive to become better people and help others in need.

It's obligatory for Muslims to fast in the month of Ramadan, as this is one of five pillars of Islam. The Holy Month marks the beginning of the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed and it includes Laylat Al Qadr, which is described in the Quran as better than a thousand months.

One of the main purposes behind fasting is to live the life of the poor; those who don't have their basic needs of food for everyday life. Fasting provides a little portion of their experience and gives a bit of an idea about their suffering. During this month, people are encouraged to spend more to help the poor and share food with them, regardless of their race, faith and nationality.

The Khalifa Foundation's fourth annual iftar initiative provides us with a good example. Nearly 600 Emiratis were provided with financial support to prepare homemade food for those in need. Each day during Ramadan, every family will be cooking 100 iftar meals that will be distributed at 110 sites around the country, mainly to labour camps.

There are also many iftar tents put up throughout the country by the Red Crescent, which has launched the "Your Generosity Enlightens Their Lives" campaign. The initiative will oversee the distribution of food, clothing and money during this month. We should all take part in this campaign, and encourage others to do the same, throughout the year, and especially during the Holy Month.

Ramadan is also a good time to reflect on our deeds; on what we need to change, and what we need to improve in ourselves, and our relationships with other people. It is an opportunity for us to become better people, or to make a fresh start. And it is the best time of the year, for Muslims, to gather with family and catch up with old friends to share more time and meals together.

Ramadan is a special occasion for Muslims, but the charitable and peaceful spirit of it is not exclusive to Muslims. The month is also an opportunity for better cross-cultural communication and understanding.

The UAE is a model for tolerance, as it welcomes and hosts people of different faiths. We all ought to treat each other with respect. And the Holy Month provides us with a good opportunity to do just that.