The 3-year-old son woke up in the middle of the night and begged his mother to feed him. His mother hugged him tightly while crying hysterically out of hunger. She was also starving and tired. She cried as well but silently while she was trying to put her son to sleep again. Her crying was not only because she was tired and starving but also because she could do nothing for her son. Her eyes were so dry to shed any tears. They both have been walking in the desert under the burning son for more than a week. But they are not alone; they are accompanied by more than 70 people from her village. They were forced to flee their homes after a severe drought killed the village’s animals and left them without food and water.
During the long journey the villagers have already buried three children. They all witnessed the extreme stages of starvation were death is inevitable in such case.
The exodus of people is heading to a UN camp that will provide them with food and water. The small portion of food and water left can barely sustain them for the next two days before they reach the camp as they hope.
The mother tried very hard not to think of what may happen to her only child. She knows that nothing in the world could be compared to seeing her own son dies in front of her because she could not provide him with food. She closed her eyes and wished for a decent death for both of them. She could not handle it any more. Under such severe situation she just wanted to end her and her son’s suffering.
[Source: A snapshot from a video by nytimes]
The above, is just an imaginative story of what might be happening during such weeks of long walk in the heat of the desert from Somalia to Kenya seeking “peace and food.”
In about 10 days hundreds of millions of Muslims are going to refrain from eating and drinking starting from just before sunrise to sundown in a period of 30 days. Unfortunately, many Muslims think of Ramadan (the month of fasting) as the month of Taraweeh (a 60 to 90 minutes prayer after the last obligatory prayer) only. Many believe that the more we pray the better Muslims we are forgetting that performing our obligations to Allah are not enough since we have also other obligations toward our brothers and sisters. In Islam, one is not considered a good believer if he or she doesn’t do good deeds to others.
We fast 30 days to learn about how those less fortunate live theirs during the entire year. Hence, we get a better understanding of their lives and try to help them more.
Dear Muslims, every day before you break your fast remember those people who are forced to fast not because they choose to. Remember that while you managed to fast for 14 or 16 hours those people are fasting for days.
Dear Muslims, let us not overindulge ourselves with many dishes and desserts when we break our fast. We need to remember those who are starving to death, those who don’t know when their next meal will be. Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The human being has never filled a container worse than his stomach. Hence, it will be sufficient for the son of Adam to satisfy his hunger with a few bites to strengthen his backbone. If he must eat his fill then he should allow for one third food, one third water, and third air.”
This Ramadan try the following:
1. Eat less meat. You don’t have to be a vegetarian but try to be one for couple of months or weeks or even days. I once did it for three consecutive months and I liked it. Being vegetarian for a period of time is much easier than you think.
2. Cook two dishes one with meat and one without meat. Give the one with meat to the poor and experience the satisfaction of doing good while eating your vegetarian dish.
3. When you invite people keep in mind that satisfying Allah should be your first goal then satisfying your guests. Don’t cook food for five times the number of guests, Allah does not like wasters.
4. Let your stomach eats, not your eyes. You don’t have to try all the dishes. The next day, you can try the dish you didn’t try the day before. Refrigerators work like magic when it comes to preserving food for few days.
5. Invite single expats to your house. If you are in Jordan, invite an Egyptian worker or a Malaysian student (if there still any) to break their fast with you. If you are in the Gulf invite a single expat to your house. I am sure there are millions of them in the Gulf. If you are in the US, invite a single Jordanian student to break the fast with you. I am so lucky to have friends who invite me to their houses for the whole 30 days of Ramadan.
6. Sharing is the key in this month. Eat less, distribute more.
Islam came to break all barriers between races, colors and social classes. Consider the mother in the above story your sister and pray for the millions of people like her in Africa. You would do all you can to help your sister or brother if in trouble, wouldn’t you? I wish I know how to help those people. I really don’t know how. I can’t imagine what they are going through. My life is so shallow, I take eating, drinking and peace for granted and worry about what electronic gadgets I can’t buy.