Every year the month of Ramadan comes and takes us down the memory lane: Reenergized mosques; ‘mahyas’ (stringing lights between minarets) decorating them with their devotional messages; and sound of the cannon at the time of iftar, an indispensable element of Ramadan of our olden times. No one would indeed break their fast unless the cannon were fired.
Being a guest at a different iftar dinner every night, food exchanging during suhoors, racing to offer the most delicious food to one another were all unforgettable parts of the Ramadans of our childhood. The iftar tables would be adorned with a rich variety of food, snacks, dried fruits, and of course with dates, a must for iftars. And of course, the deserts were incredibly important, the most notable one being ‘gullac.’
People above a certain age can’t help but reminisce about past Ramadans and the warmth they lived as children with love, which is something they cannot find today.
There are places that still try to keep up the tradition, but not too often. This may have to do with changing times. Modern technology, for instance. Many of the things that we now enjoy today as part of our lives didn’t exist then.
But then traditions have their own charm. That said, the holy month continues to invoke in us the same spirit and we can even today experience the same happiness and prosperity. It may be because it never fails to reinforce bonds of brotherhood and love.
Living with the incredible spirit of Ramadan and remembering its meaning every year does never cut us off from the special attachment that we have with the month every year and from reliving its true spirit. This is the time that reflects best the foundations of our religion: Love, brotherhood, respect and kindness.
In Ramadan, almost everyone, even if unconsciously, worked to cease being an ‘I’ and worked to being an ‘us.’ This practice performed together for God has surprising benefits, both spiritually and physically.
The month of Ramadan is a month of blessings, forgiveness, cleansing and blessings. This holy month is also very important to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between the believers. For this reason, every Ramadan should be seen as an opportunity to reinforce the feelings of solidarity, cooperation and brotherhood as believers embrace each other with love.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that “Those who spend this month fasting, worshipping Allah and doing good deeds, they should rejoice!’ and made it clear that the month of Ramadan is an important means to gain Allah’s approval. For this reason, it is important that Muslims, in line with their capabilities, should compete in doing charity and offering each other the best gifts. So how can that be achieved?
In addition to hosting feasts, they can distribute iftar boxes in mosques’ courtyards, prioritizing the poor first. It is also possible to reduce the prices of foodstuff to increase the buying power of the poor and to ensure that poor families can more easily buy groceries during Ramadan. During Ramadan, it should be ensured that everyone, be they poor or rich, eat together, which will help different people from various backgrounds come together and connect. In this way, any perception of social classes will be effectively ended.
The beautiful approach of Islam to art, music, and entertainment will make sure that this holy month is spent more joyful and more exuberant every moment. People coming together after iftar until suhoor, and having fun at social activities, and enriched with games like Hacivat-Karagoz puppet shows can be listed as examples to this. Mass prayers and gatherings afterwards for pleasant conversations are also extremely important.
Muslims should work with all they have to make sure that the spirituality and helping in Ramadan goes beyond the holy month and continues for the rest of the year and spreads across all of Muslim society. The whole world, and most particularly the Islamic world, is full of downtrodden innocents who have to struggle with hunger, persecution and torment on a daily basis and for this reason, it wouldn’t be a conscientious move to only think about what to eat at iftar and just sit back in slumber and waste time afterwards. Allah, in the Hereafter, will question us about every gift He gives to us. It is our duty to use the gifts without forgetting about this important fact.
We shouldn’t forget that in Syria, in east Turkestan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Chad, Crimea, Kirkuk, and Kashmir, there are brothers and sisters who cannot have iftar, who cannot find food and are suffering due to persecution and oppression. Anyone wishing this oppression to stop should pray to Allah and say, ‘O Lord, end the conflicts between Muslims, end the turmoil in the world, and speed up the union of believers.’ And as a form of physical prayer, they should contribute to every effort and activity toward that direction.
We shouldn’t forget that we are obliged to invite Muslims to brotherhood, remind each other that we are servants of our Lord, invite every human being to love and remind all people that Allah created this world not for hatred, but for love. Allah will help us achieve this beautiful outcome and end the problems and suffering in the world. And those who disbelieved are allies of one another. If you do not do likewise (ally with one another), there will be fitnah on earth and great corruption. (Qur’an, 8:73)
The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.