As Ramadan begins today, this is a good time to take stock of our personal lives and to evaluate the health of our region at large. During this special month we disrupt our regular lives in a positive way and open ourselves up to the possibility of improvement. This year, however, it is more pressing than ever to take stock of our region.
In Syria, the four-year civil war shows no signs of slowing. ISIL has entrenched its murderous hold on eastern and northern parts of the country while the Assad regime has continued its vicious attacks on civilians and infrastructure. For the average Syrian inside the country, this Ramadan will be marked by deprivation and the daily struggle for provisions. For the nearly four million Syrian refugees displaced around the Middle East, this holy month will be another one filled with despair, uncertainty and fear. While the UAE has led efforts to help these Syrians, we can and must reflect on what more we can do to relieve their suffering and help bring about an end to this bloody episode.
Likewise in Yemen, the fighting continued yesterday with the civilian population caught in the crossfire. We have argued recently for a pause in the fighting during the holy month and these calls have been reinforced by the United Nations. We can only hope that this Ramadan will bring some respite for the hard-pressed Yemeni people.
Closer to home, Ramadan affords us the sacred opportunity to connect with our faith in a deeper manner, to care for our loved ones, to visit elders and the sick and above all else, to reflect on what can make us better people. The beauty of this month is not confined to members of the Muslim faith. We will all do things differently for the next few weeks, change our established routines and approach ordinary tasks in untypical ways. Through such simple things we will bring ourselves together.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding has recently made the case for non-Muslim residents and tourists to think about how the holy month strengthens our society rather than focus too heavily on the temporary rules and restrictions that Ramadan brings. This sentiment is well-observed.
Let’s all celebrate the spirit of Ramadan and try to make it a starting point to a better life, for us, for people around us and for those in need everywhere in the world. We wish all our readers a blessed holy month.
Resource: The National, June 17, 2015