Home News South Africans Rediscovering the True Essence of Ramadan Amid Global Challenges

South Africans Rediscovering the True Essence of Ramadan Amid Global Challenges

by Thaabit Kamaar
Image Source: NBC

South Africa – Ramadan is a time for Muslim communities to strengthen their spiritual connection, show compassion, and cultivate righteousness. This year more so than previously acts of empathy and charity increase significantly, reflecting selfless giving.

Additionally, Ramadan offers a chance for mercy and forgiveness, promoting reconciliation amongst estranged people. Mosques reverberate with Quranic recitations, and homes are filled with meaningful time spent laughing, loving and enjoying the aroma of home-cooked meals, signifying unity and joy.

Amidst the abundance and sanctity of this month, a sad reality casts a shadow over many of us as we contemplate an array of wars, humanitarian crises, geopolitical challenges, and catastrophic weather patterns plaguing millions of Muslims worldwide.

Global Food Shortages Compound Muslim Suffering

This year, the devastation wrought by Israel’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of Gaza weighs heavily on our hearts. Palestinians of all faiths endure relentless bombardment, starvation, unlawful detention, and settler colonisation at the hands of the Israeli regime.

Similarly, in Africa, millions of Sudanese face prolonged fasting due to civil conflict-induced food shortages, putting tens of thousands of children at risk of famine. Beyond conflict, severe climate change continues to ravage food production across Africa, exacerbating food insecurity, poverty, displacement, and malnutrition.

In Asia, Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh refugee camps endure severe shortages of aid and essential supplies. Further north, Uyghur Muslims in China face oppressive restrictions on observing Ramadan, intensifying their numerous tribulations.

Despite geographical distances, the South African Muslim community empathises deeply with the plight of their global counterparts, recognising the widespread hunger afflicting them. The lesson from their hardship is gratitude and appreciation for our blessings, however modest they seem.

One South African individual, known by the initials AM, remarked, “Not only hunger in Palestine but all around the world. I mean, we look at countries like Somalia where a whole generation of kids are dying due to hunger.”

Amidst our attempts to uphold the spirit of Ramadan, a pervasive sense of guilt lingers, juxtaposed with the freedom to observe traditions and prayers.

Though our iftar tables are laden with food and drinks, some people feel incomplete without acknowledging the struggles of fellow Muslims. Therefore, each morsel consumed is accompanied by a prayer for their relief.

Another individual, known by the initials AD, expressed, “Every night, we sit down to break our fast with this unspoken guilt and helplessness that I know hovers over everyone. We make dua for them, and not a night goes by when it’s not a topic of conversation at our table.”

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Changes in Iftar Practices Reflect Solidarity

Traditionally, most families celebrate Ramadan with grandeur, marked by lavish iftar gatherings, elegant decorations, and luxurious feasts. Yet, in light of the global Muslim community’s plight, some have opted for a more subdued approach.

Recognising the need to minimise excess and waste, individuals have scaled back extravagant iftar meals and refrained from flaunting them on social media out of respect.

Considering this, an individual known by the initials ZK mentioned, “We really cut down on the extravagant iftar meals; it came with too much guilt. Also, our meals are not posted on social media because it’s just rude.”

Inspired by the resilience and faith demonstrated by struggling Muslims, others have committed to preparing only necessary food and finding ways to share it with those in need.

An individual identified by the initials RL stated” “As Muslims, we need to always try and be good human beings and help those around us whether it be through feeding people who are in need or donating if we can to organisations that help people.”

This shift away from extravagance reflects a return to the true essence of Ramadan, emphasising empathy, compassion, and solidarity.

As we reflect on the challenges facing Muslims worldwide, we are reminded to extend our prayers and support to those in need, both near and far. This includes our non-Muslim neighbours, highlighting the importance of compassion and charity in alleviating suffering everywhere.

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