Following the advent of Islam in the seventh century, it was not easy for Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to convince the people of Makkah including his own tribe to embrace Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) and his followers had to face several hardships, wars and even had to live in exile to spread the message of peace and complete submission to Allah (SWT). Centuries later, Muslims reside across the globe and according to Time magazine, 26.4% of 8 billion world population (2.2 million) by 2030 will be Muslims. The settlement of Muslims in Europe and western countries are mainly due to migration. As Muslims relocated from their homelands, they continued practising their religious cultures and traditions in the European countries.
Fasting in Ramadan is an important Islamic institution that is observed by all Muslims. Ramadan, being a month of the Islamic lunar calendar, can arrive during any season of the year. This year, Muslims in Britain are fasting during summer time for 19 hours per day with only 5 hours between suhoor (meal before fasting) and iftar (meal after fasting). Keeping in line with the traditions of Prophet (PBUH) and ordain of Allah (SWT), Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during Ramadan. They also become more conscious about their civic responsibilities especially towards other Muslim brothers and sisters. Ramadan gives opportunities for both spiritual uplift and strengthening the human bonds on the basis of humility and compassion.
In the pre-Islamic era and even during Prophet Mohammad’s life wars and bloodshed were forbidden during the month of Ramadan. This month was reserved to retreat from worldly activities to focus on the spiritual happiness and maintaining peace. Contrary to this notion of observing peace, we witness severe disorders and conflicts due to political upheavals in many Muslim countries like Syria, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan. The timescale of peace recovery in these Muslim countries is unpredictable but people who are struggling for survival as refugees and internally displaced are in constant need of humanitarian support.
Fasting makes one appreciate more the pain and agony of people living in poverty and conflict. However, the holy month of Ramadan also energizes Muslims spiritually to contribute towards the humanitarian assistance for people living in appalling conditions. During the month of Ramadan, Muslim Aid runs several projects and appeals for Muslims besieged by poverty and warfare in the UK and worldwide. British Muslims can help their fellow citizens through prisoners’ projects and Feed the Fasting programmes carried out it in the UK. As well as contribute towards the appeal made for Gaza, Syria and other countries. One of Muslim Aid’s flagship programmes, Child sponsorship scheme facilitates to create a special bond between the donors and beneficiaries based on affection and principle of humanity which is central to the teachings of Islam. The essence of fasting and fulfilling religious responsibility to help Muslim brothers and sister in dreadful situations is to express one’s complete submission to the will of Allah (SWT).
*The copyright of this article is held by the Information and Public Affairs Department of Muslim Aid, UK. Use of its contents is allowed subject to acknowledgement. The opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent the point of view of Muslim Aid.
Information & Public Affairs Assistant