Tolerance is served nightly at iftar table

What better example of social and religious tolerance than when people from a variety of backgrounds can sit at one table with mutual respect?

One of the best aspects of Ramadan is the kindness shown at this time. The eagerness to do good is undeniable. We are only about halfway through the holy month and we have already witnessed countless acts of goodwill: individuals volunteering and donating goods, and companies organising iftars for those in need. This year, for the first time, I am fasting without my immediate family. But I've found myself surrounded by the generosity of friends who open their homes without a second thought.

The holy month, after all, is about engaging in unselfish acts and good deeds, neither of which should go unappreciated. I have been lucky enough to attend iftars with people representing a host of nationalities. Some may think this sounds like an average day in the UAE but, to me, especially during Ramadan, it signifies a kind of unity. Something about breaking fast in the homes of Muslims from across the globe - swapping anecdotes, family traditions, amusing stories and cultural habits - makes it that much more memorable than being at an iftar in a hotel or restaurant.

Yes, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to iftar buffets both lavish and simple. Still, for me, nothing beats an intimate home iftar - if only because we should take note of the simple luxuries life affords us in order to remain humble and grounded, both during and after the holy month. I have also shared iftar with non-Muslims who choose to fast because they are curious about the religion and its customs. For them, the idea of experiencing food from faraway lands is fascinating. Not only that, they find that the concept behind Ramadan and its messages - including mercy, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude, compassion and consideration for others - not only cleanses the mind but also nourishes the spirit.

What better example of social and religious tolerance than when people from a variety of backgrounds can sit at one table with mutual respect? After all, this is a time when we believe the doors of heaven are open and the devil is locked away. With no excuse for the sins we commit, now is the time to test what our souls are made of. If we do not like what we see, it's never too late to make a change because, in a sense, we are all a work in progress.

Our silent prayers are heard and will be answered at the right time. So, we do our best to remain patient and envelop our hearts with the strongest of faith. We all know that a blessing can come in various disguises, therefore, our strong belief in God and His messengers will surely provide us with a vision of unparalleled clarity.   By opening our hearts to others, we also help to strengthen their essence.

Our reward for strengthening our spirit ... only God knows.