x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

With a few days left in Ramadan, let's maintain the good spirit

The holy month has been full of rewards. Soon it will be time to carry the spirit onwards.

Only a few days are left before the holy month of Ramadan ends. Ramadan came, and like any other blessed and joyous days, passed quickly. Blessed hours are like a train or a plane: only those who are prepared for their arrival could take seats, reach their destinations and make their wishes come true.

Before Ramadan, we were concerned about the hardship of fasting for long hours in the heat. And there have been really hot days but we could fast with determination and strong will. God has granted us enough strength to fulfil this duty with an open heart, especially when remembering what the Quran says in Surat Al-Baqarah: "And fast, it is better for you, if only you know."

The charitable spirit has been strongly present throughout the holy month. I was pleased to know about the various initiatives across the UAE to help the poor during Ramadan. Individuals, business and charity organisations were competing to lend a hand to the needy in our society and help the less fortunate among us. I was touched by a quote from a Sharjah worker, who told The National that having a free iftar at the mosque means his family in Pakistan can have a good Eid, like other families. Indeed, the holy month has been an opportunity for us all to bring a smile to the faces of those in need.

This Ramadan, I spent good times with my family members. We would sit together at the iftar table to break our fast at sunset, drink and eat, talk and joke and share news. It is the only month in the year in which all the family unites for one meal. My siblings and I would have arguments sometimes, but then stop and laugh with each other after my parents remind us that it's Ramadan. We would sit together in the living room and watch Freej and make jokes about the Khaleeji drama. Then we would go to the mosque to perform the prayer.

I also spent more quality time with my friends and work colleagues. One day, I invited them to my house for iftar. My expatriate friends had the chance to experience iftar and try traditional Emirati food, some of them for the first time. Other kinds of food were also present on the table, as were the laughter and joy. I was also invited to other iftars at my friends' places, where I was lucky to try their home-made food. I discovered their talent in cooking and enjoyed their company. During Ramadan, I could try out some new recipes and share the food I make with our guests.

Ramadan is not all about food, and fasting doesn't mean refraining only from food and drink during the daylight. Muslims usually reach their highest spiritual status when fasting during the holy month. We are also required to refrain from sins, to control our desires and work harder to get closer to God by dedicating more time to prayers and supplications. Prophet Mohammed said that three supplications will not be rejected by Allah, and among them was "the supplication of the one who is fasting".

To me, the holy month has been also an opportunity to reflect and purify my soul, to strive to pray more and read more chapters of the Quran. It is also a chance to expiate my previous sins throughout the year.

Laylatul Al Qadr (the Night of Power) comes during the last 10 days of Ramadan. It marks when the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed with the exhortation: "Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created [all that exists]". The Quran describes Laylatul Al Qadr as better than a thousand months. We don't know when exactly this night is, which makes us more motivated to make use of all the 10 nights.

The end of Ramadan invites mixed feelings of sadness and joy: sadness because the blessed days in which I could have done and given more went by so fast, and pleasure because we will celebrate the completion of Ramadan with Eid this weekend. Families and relatives usually come together during Eid, which brings with it sweet childhood memories.

After Ramadan and Eid, we will go back to our routines but, hopefully, we will become better people and continue to do good deeds.