The Silence of the Suffering

3 Aug

(Originally published in issue 18 of the Radio Ikhlas Magazine.)

In Sudan, people starve all year round, not just in Ramadan, and in Gaza there’s a medical crisis and humanitarian disaster all year round. The beginning of Ramadan does not mean the suffering begins, nor does the end mean that it ends. Brothers and sisters go without clean water and a huge lack of medical care and facilities throughout the year, so why is it that many of us only open our eyes and our minds to the suffering during the Holy month of Ramadan?

During Ramadan, our spirituality is at a high and our Imaan (faith) is much stronger because the time we’d spend on worldly desires is spent doing Iba’dah (worship). Whilst we pray for ourselves, our families and our friends we remember that around us there are people much less fortunate and they too are included in our duas. Not only are our hearts and minds open but when we see people giving Zakah, opening their cheque books and purses in order to give money to those less fortunate than themselves, we follow their example.

Whilst we are fasting, worldly desires are irrelevant and we learn to comprehend, to some extent, with the suffering of others. Whilst we experience the dizziness from lack of water we feel a small proportion of the suffering of the people of Africa who cannot find clean water to drink for long periods of time. Whilst our stomachs are empty we feel a fraction of the plight of those who starve, whilst knowing that when the sun sets we will have an extravagant feast to indulge in. Iftaari for many of us is a time of reflection and whilst we understand that our fast is now over we know for many that their fasts may last for days.

It’s true that the month of Ramadan brings a Muslim much closer to Allah and opens a door to a much simpler and more humble way of life.  Many of us enter this month with the intention of strengthening our Imaan and becoming better Muslims yet at the end of Ramadan we once again forget the suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world and indulge heavily in worldly desires.

It’s not currently Ramadan and as I’m writing this there are orphans on the streets of Dhaka scrounging for food, widows in Palestine wondering how they will feed their young and families starving because there is nobody to provide for them.  There are victims of natural disasters crying out for help in Pakistan, Japan and Haiti yet we fail to hear their cries because we are much too caught up in the Dunya (world).

This Ramadan, whilst you intend to become a better Muslim and you feel hunger during the hours of your fast remember that there are people all over the world who suffer much worse all year round and that once Ramadan is over these people will still exist. Along with our intentions to pray our Salah (prayers) five times a day even when Ramadan is over we should intend to remember the suffering of our brothers and sisters all over the world. Make the intention to keep your hearts and minds open and be willing to help those less fortunate than yourselves all year round and Allah will give you all that you need to continue.

Alone, no one person can ease the pain of all of those who are suffering but together we can make a big difference insh’allah (God Willing).

~ San’aa Sultan

Read more about San’aa here

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