Hunger for a peaceful Ramadan

Mustafa K. Anuar

Muslims must abstain from food, drink and carnal desires during Ramadan. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 5, 2024.

WE’RE now into the last leg of the blessed month of Ramadan, in which Muslims will continue to undertake the obligatory practice of abstaining from food, drink and carnal desires.

Fasting means more than just refusing meals. It is a test of inner strength to restrain oneself from misusing one’s tongue, ears, eyes, hands and feet to commit sins.

The faithful are expected to avoid crossing the line in the human endeavour to purify the heart and seek Allah’s pleasure.

Restraint of the tongue is to prevent oneself from indulging in lies, backbiting, and slander. A Muslim is also expected to refrain from obscene language, swearing and quarrels.

Control of the ears is to prevent oneself from hearing false conversations, slander, backbiting, and vulgarity. Such constraint is to help build character as well as promote peace and harmony in society.

The curb on the eyes is to avoid forbidden and unlawful looks. This reminds us of a recent video clip in which a Muslim man was seen pleading with all “beautiful” Chinese women who visit Ramadan bazaars not to wear “revealing clothes”. He was close to playing victimhood.

His utterance made him look like one who is utterly weak-kneed. You wonder whether he has come across this Islamic expression: lower your gaze.

Fasting also has the effect of reinforcing patience, perseverance, endurance, compassion (for the poor) as well as enhancing human dignity (after overcoming hunger and other life’s challenges).

And yet, this Ramadan has seen peace being harmed.

A number of Muslims have found themselves passionately chanting the mantra of rage and hate, drenched in the spirit of self-righteousness.

It would appear that their dry tongues have been spouting slander and half-truths.

Some social media users spewed venom and vitriol, egged on by peddlers of rage whose ulterior motive is to gain political mileage.

You wonder at this juncture whether the deeper meaning of fasting as mentioned above has gained any traction at all with those who wear Islam on their sleeves.

It would be a disturbing irony if these cohorts indulge in slanders and backbiting while at the same time spending some moments reciting holy verses in praise of Allah.

Take the controversial case surrounding Education Minister Fahdlina Sidek’s approach to the use of the term “Kafir” (infidel).

Her detractors went livid despite her explanation that she would be uncomfortable if her children were to call her non-Muslim friends “kafir” as it is socially divisive in our daily interaction within the larger context of our diverse society.

To be clear, she’s not denying that the term “kafir” exists in the holy Quran. 

And yet, some of her critics were unforgiving and even contemptuous of her in a month where patience, compassion and forgiveness should have been the guiding light.

Forgiveness seems to have been misconceived by certain followers of the Islamic faith as a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a virtue.

This partly explains why certain quarters are insist on teaching the owners of KK Super Mart chain a heavy lesson following the discovery of a few pairs of socks on display bearing the word “Allah”, which is indeed offensive to Muslims.

As a result, not only have there been calls for prolonged boycott of the convenience store chain, some petrol bombs had been lobbed at three KK Mart stores so far.

This is not to trivialise the hurt that has been endured by Muslims. But surely resorting to violence is an extreme and dangerous act and one that goes against the teachings of Islam, especially after KK Mart owners had offered unconditional apologies.

In the remaining days of Ramadan, we hope that divine devotion will be further enhanced while peace and harmony prevail. – April 5, 2024.

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