As the final stretch of Ramadan looms, thoughts of those practising will be turning to zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam and an obligation upon all Muslims to donate 2.5 per cent of their earnings to charity. But acts of kindness and self-sacrifice need not be limited to those who are practising Muslims, as Dubai resident Olga Zolotova demonstrates. She has chosen to fast in solidarity during the holy month and to give back to those who are less fortunate by teaming up with the Emirates Red Crescent and Times Square shopping centre to collect and donate personal care items to workers. "It is not just about changing your eating habits, having iftars and working fewer hours. It is a time to clear your thoughts and to reflect. By detaching from common pleasures and comforts we should experience the gratitude for things we take for granted," says the young woman, setting an example for us all.
We can all participate in random acts of kindness, whether it is giving money to charity, donating food to the Ramadan Sharing Fridges initiative, which enables meals to be shared with those who need them most and cut down on food waste, or helping a neighbour or community project. No matter how small or insignificant these gestures might seem, they can make a difference to people's lives. Ramadan might be the inspiration to motivate people to do more charitable work but good deeds should not be limited to one month per year. Instead, the spirit of giving, prevalent during the holy month, should teach us to be more compassionate year-round.
Whatever the motivation – whether it is zakat or spotting someone who needs a helping hand – these last days of Ramadan should be a reminder that we can all do our bit to give something back.