Thursday, 09 May 2019 15:41

Holy Month of Ramadan: Time for reflection and self-discovery

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We are fortunate to yet again celebrate the coming of another month of self-reflection.

While we cleanse our bodies, free our minds and hearts from sins, and enrich our spirits with prayer and good deeds through the ritual of fasting, I’d also like to take this opportunity to share new angles, perhaps seldom discussed among us — in the spirit of self-reflection.

In order to do this, let us look back at history.

The battles of Badr and Tabuk were fought in 629 and 634 AD, respectively — interestingly both took place in the month of Ramadan.

The success in the battle of Badr, particularly, stamped the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) position as an important figure within the region, paving the way for more successes for Muslims in the next few years. Furthermore, Ramadan also saw the peaceful conquest of Makkah by the Prophet, circa 630 AD.

Clearly, some of the most significant events in Islamic history was achieved in a time of fasting.

From the perspective of basic human needs, the prohibition of food and water intake is seen as a disadvantage to those who are fasting. We also tend to develop a sense of empathy for the fasting person, out of respect for such as “demanding” practice.

At the same time, the practising person may also seem entitled to certain “rights”, such as reduced workload and designated time in preparation of the daily breaking of the fast.

While it is common practice out of respect for the holy month, we must also be aware that the we are fortunate to have such a choice — to slow down during the fasting month.

History shows that is never a choice granted for everyone.

Which is why, in self-reflection, we should never take our fasting as an excuse of disadvantage, or as a given right to reduce our own burdens.

In fact, for many of us in this country, we have always had the luxury of the choice mentioned above. It is for this reason, Ramadan presents us with opportunities to strengthen our of humility values and to help others.

It is a clear and noble principle for those who are privileged to always help those who are less fortunate. This help may not only be monetary, but most importantly, it should be done to bring opportunities to those who need them. The act of giving zakat fitrah enshrines this — although it is a small token equivalent to two bushels of rice, it is mandatory on those who are able, male or female.

On top of the zakat paid, there are many ways for us to help the unfortunate. If you don’t have money to spare, teach someone a new skill, give away things you may not need — in some way or another it will help someone.

In conclusion, while we take in the daytime hunger and thirst during Ramadan, always remember that there are those who face this hunger and thirst throughout the day and around the year.

Also, remember that for some, this hunger and thirst was not an excuse to execute strategies and plans that changed their destinies to achieve great success.

This Ramadan, let us again take a step back with patience, open mindedness and a willingness to change. Let us also reflect on how, as a nation, we can achieve higher levels of success and remain competitive in a world, where values and virtue can easily be eroded due to the nature of competition.

“We do not learn from experience, but we learn from reflecting on experience.”

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute.

Published in: The New Straits Times, 9 May 2019.