Ramadan is over for another year and for many of us, this is a time of celebration, getting together and catching up on that all-important sleep you missed during the Holy Month. But while we all tuck into our breakfasts and enjoy those much-missed morning cups of coffee, I hope there is at least one part of Ramadan that we take with us through the rest of the year – kindness.
One of the tenets of fasting is that we not only restrict our bodies by refraining from food and drink but we also temper our minds from impure thoughts, meanness of spirit and anger or frustration. This is definitely a much harder challenge than the physical one, especially given the shorter fuse that being hungry and thirsty can give us, but that is part of the beauty of this month. If you follow the rules correctly, you can give you mind, body and soul an inner cleanse. If you can truly bring yourself to feel and think only positive thoughts about you and your fellow humans, then you will have a much happier soul.
Of course, for many people in the region, this test has been almost impossible. People in Gaza are under ferocious attack, those in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are suffering from on-going war and Egypt is still rocking. You only have to turn on any news channel to see millions of people less fortunate than we are here in the UAE. It has been a tough Ramadan for them.
So, I think it is time for some basic human compassion.
One of my favourite authors and regular visitors to the region, Karen Armstrong, won a TED prize a few years ago for her Charter for Compassion. It is a bid to get every individual, company, city and government to sign a personal pledge to treat their fellow humans as they would want to be treated themselves. While ambitious, it is an attempt to spread some love in a world where it is much needed. Whenever I think of this act and look at what is happening around us it makes me think of the adage: united we stand and divided we fall. There are so many things tearing us apart at the moment that the least we can do is be kind to one another.
A good friend recently posted this plea on Facebook and I have decided to use these days of Eid, when everyone is in jolly spirits, to follow her words.
“Be kind. Hold the door open for someone. Compliment them and ask them how their day was. Ask them if they need help. Smile. Offer someone a taste of your food. Give water and food to the poor. Be gentle to your family. Tell them they are beautiful. Hold their hands. Give them a hug. Smile again. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind, all you need is a heart and we all have one of them.”
Eid Mubarak to everyone and I wish for a better world.