Faizel Patel, Radio Islam, 2015-06-17
The month of Ramadan has arrived. More than a billion Muslims around the world will abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex from dawn to dusk for a whole month.
Fasting is one of the 5 tenants of the religion of Islam, and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. Abstinence from earthly pleasures and curbing evil intentions and desires is regarded as an act of obedience and submission to God.
Ramadan has always been special to me. Save for my dear mother making every savoury listed in the Indian Delights cookbook, I’ve learned to appreciate the plight of the less fortunate on a daily basis.
As kids, my brothers and I used to wait for the call of prayer so we could break our fasts. Plates were lined with dates, samoosas, pies and china-fruit that we used to drool over during the day at the school tuck shop.
When we took that first sip of water and downed a date, it was heavenly. Fasting makes you appreciate what you have, puts you in the shoes of the have not’s and makes you dig deep in your pockets to assist those who go hungry every day, to feel what they feel, and appreciate what you have.
I recently covered a story for EWN where a teenager stabbed another over a bowl of porridge. Is this what hunger drives people to do? Although there's a lot more to the story, it was Aristophanes who said: "Hunger knows no friend but its feeder."
But, the month of Ramadan is also more than just fasting. It's about sacrifice, it’s the month when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, being more spiritual by going for the night prayer, reading the Quran and being charitable. Ramadan is chance to reap spiritual ecstasy - a morphing of self to become a more spiritual person and to carry the change for the rest of the year.
The month of Ramadan does however have its lighter moments, and some more controversial ones if you can call it that.
An incident which happened a few years back during the month of Ramadan always make me chuckle. It goes something like this:
“Die fast kry baie vir Faizie” (the fast gets Faizie a lot) chortled my aunt as we sat around the kitchen table with my family. I tried to make sense of what she was saying and reminisced about the day’s events. What made her reach that perception of me? Was I really grumpy and did the fast really get to me?
It began with a trip to Fruit & Veg City. I was driving my little jalopy with my family in tow until we almost had the wind knocked out of us. A Mercedes Benz C63 AMG drove with such speed that our little abode shuddered. My little 5-year-old daughter thought I was pulling a stunt and retorted with, “Daddy stop driving like Schumacher!”
However it was at Fruit & Veg City that I was left speechless. After we got the necessary healthy stuff, I came across two aunties arguing over a bunch of carrots. I overheard the one aunty say to the other “I saw them first, they are mine!” yelling with a commanding voice.
Intrigued, I approached them to find out if there was something special about the bunch of carrots they were tugging like a rope between them. Apparently it was nothing special and it’s just that both aunties grabbed the bunch of carrots at the same time. So I told them, “Why are you arguing? There is a whole shelf of carrots, just grab another one.” They both looked at me with contempt and stormed off, to continue shopping.
A non-Muslim friend once asked me, “Faya, ek se bru, why are Muslims in such a hurry in Ramzaan?” All I could muster up was to say they had to get home and prepare, lots of things to do.
Another incident that comes to mind is in Ramadan mosques get so full that carpets have to be placed outside for extra people who come to pray that sometimes even the one who calls people to prayer doesn’t get place. There’s also the careless and inconsiderate people that park their cars blocking peoples driveways, where even the family cat can’t get out.
It's little nuisances like this throughout the day that may exacerbate or change the mood of person while he is fasting, but that is no excuse as this is a month of sacrifice and tolerance.
I am sure that what we really need is patience to get us through the days of this beautiful month. However, it seems that some people lack this beautiful quality, which is much loved by God
So when I finally did get home after the days escapades, I was sad, solemn and even agitated. The fast had nothing to do with my demeanor. In Ramadan, things move at break neck speed, and I guess we all want to “Carp Diem” (Seize the day) because we never know if we will ever see another Ramadan again.
It’s all good and well that we want to sponge the virtues and rewards this beautiful month has to offer. But, also take a moment to resolve and embrace this beautiful and auspicious month and reap the rewards, but most of all reflect and consider the feelings of others, be more tolerant towards others, Muslims or not.
Faizel Patel is a senior journalist and news acnchor for Radio Islam and freelance reporter for Eyewitness News. Follow him on Twitter: @Faizie143