As Ramadan draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to the festivities that make up the long Eid break. Over the course of a testing month, we have all been required to be a little more patient, humble and empathetic towards those who are less fortunate than us. These values are often sorely lacking in the world and serve as a reminder of the need to incorporate them more in our everyday lives, even after the holy month.
In the UAE, most of us have the privilege of leading safe, secure lives, despite conflict and instability nearby. It is all too easy to take this for granted. Ramadan is a time to remember those who are deprived of their basic human rights, whether that is nutrition, education or security, or to think of those who cannot celebrate Eid because they are far from their families or suffering from violence. At a time when one out of five children around the world live in warzones, and others labour under punitive regimes, the planet is desperately short on acts of compassion. In the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, the regime and its backers have been ruthlessly bombing civilians for more than a month. Syrians have spent the past eight Ramadans wondering if they or their loved ones will live to see another. More than one million children are affected by the regime’s current assault, which has already killed hundreds of civilians and displaced 200,000 people. Meanwhile in Yemen, half the civilian population teeters on the brink of starvation, and Palestinians continue to be subjected to brutal occupation. Muslims breaking their fast in Afghanistan and Libya are also dealing with daily conflict.
We owe it to those people, and more besides, to do what we can to help, however small the gesture might seem. For Muslims, this is often done through zakat. Others have taken the opportunity of the holy month to make a philanthropic gesture, such as those who signed up to Bill Gates’s Giving Pledge. Regardless of faith, everyone has a role to play to ensure they can have a positive impact on those who need it most. The spirit of giving must prosper beyond the holy month and has the power to change lives.