x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ramadan intentions should last whole year

'Strangely enough, I know a lot of people who look at Ramadan as a good time to pick up dieting. Disappointing, but a reality.'

When Ramadan is around the corner, people begin to look at it as being more of a temporary celebration.

You might be wondering, 'Isn't it all about prayer, fasting and being extra pious?' Well yes, there's all that and I'm sure everyone else is talking about how we should be better people, praying more and giving alms.

But I still don't get the "I should be good during the holy month" syndrome. What do you do the rest of the year? Let's table that and come back to it in a bit.

The "celebrations" people look forward to are: the shorter working hours; Arabic television series that are already getting so much exposure through banner adverts and BlackBerry messages; enjoying food at the table at sundown that you normally wouldn't eat; and the shisha tents that go up and make more money than at any other time.

Strangely enough, I know a lot of people who look at Ramadan as a good time to pick up dieting. Disappointing, but a reality.

I started fasting for Ramadan when I was about nine years old. Like any kid, I wanted to grow up too fast and wanted to see what doing what adults did felt like.

I slowly began to love Ramadan because I started to understand how important these 30 days are. It's about spending time with family, it's about prayer, it's about reflecting on your life and improving on it. But don't we do that anyway?

However, in the past decade I noticed people would give up their bad habits until they broke their fast and pick them up again after the sunset prayers. And with Ramadan comes the commercialisation, such as the Vimto drink that hardly anyone buys during the other months, but under which supermarket shelves groan during Ramadan.

I know life is not like how it used to be and it is harder now to spend time on the things that are important, but we allow ourselves to be swept away by the unimportant things and it takes self-motivation to make that change.

For me, elements of Ramadan should be implemented in life throughout the year. If the ultimate goal is to please God, then why should you only be extra-good or pray more during Ramadan?

Each year as we grow older and sometimes wiser, we should pick one thing that we would like to improve on.

Transforming that one bad habit should be a goal for Ramadan because it is a time of the year where you have more time to meditate, pray, ask the right questions and make a difference.

Then you have an entire year to finish working on it.

What is the bad habit I'd like to change starting this year? Lack of patience.

I'm looking forward to working and being less rushed in life and to capturing special moments, and I'll start with this year's Ramadan.

Blessed Ramadan to you all.

* Aida Al Busaidy is an Emirati communications professional working in the renewable energy industry in Abu Dhabi, and a columnist for The National.