Ramadan: Month of Sympathy
A. S. Halawani, PhD
Academician and Writer
What follows is based on a true story…
There was an affluent father who used to keep his family fed and clothed
decently, if not splendidly. After a while, things changed and he became in
straitened circumstances. Unable to afford food for his family as he used to,
the month of Ramadan came. His social standing as well modesty prevented him
from stretching his hand to ask others for assistance even if it were in the
form of a personal debt. While struggling with life, all he could manage to be
feeding his children with was nothing but cheese, oil and beans.
The children put up with this on the first and second days of Ramadan. On the
third, however, the youngest commented:
''O Father! Cheese and oil have burnt our stomachs. We are fasting and we need
something to moisten our tummies in this burning heat. We are almost about to
faint from the smell coming up from the kitchens of our neighbors. Why don't
you feed us as our neighbor does to his children? Why don't you feed us as you
used to do?''
Then, the expressive but burning words of the little child were followed by
tears spilling from his sad eyes.
Upon that, the grief-stricken father withdrew into a dark corner of the house
where he burst into tears, as he did not want his children to see signs of
society's faithlessness and people's cruelty on his face!
Did you find this emotional? Did it move your feelings? Did it move you to
If yes, let me then congratulate you for the remaining sense of humanity you
still have; the sense of humanity which Islam came to advocate and instill
into the societies which broke away from all senses of common humanity.
When humaneness fades away, the law of the jungle prevails so that the strong
devours the weak, the rich only gives charity to the poor to see humiliation
and humbleness in his eyes, and one does not care about his next-door neighbor
or even bother to know anything about his conditions.
Customarily, when a Muslim breaks his fast, he praises Allah for His abundant
blessings and favors. However, praising Allah for His favors should not be via
the tongue alone. It should involve sharing such blessings and favors with
other indigent brothers in humanity and in faith.
Many are those who are poor and to whom neither the society show mercy, nor
the state care about in any way; a matter which makes them groan in pain under
the severity of misery and deprivation. In fact, if mercy for these people is
mandatory in other than Ramadan, it is most mandatory and necessary during the
blessed month. Likewise, if humanity necessitates that anyone who recognizes
them should assist them, a true Muslim should be keener on helping them so as
to wipe away the tears from their eyes and to see his own happiness in making
The poor, for real, are too many to be counted. Here, I do not mean the
professional beggars who knock at doors or roam the streets asking for
charity. Rather, the ones who are meant here are the likes of a father who
cannot find work to feed his kids; a mother who lost her guardian but her
chastity and modesty prevent her from stretching her hand out; a child whose
father passed away leaving him alone with no supporter or protector around; a
refugee who was driven out of his own homeland at the hands of oppressive
rulers and traitorous politicians leaving behind his riches as well as pride.
These are the ones, along with so many others, to be remembered during the
blessed days of Ramadan. I am not saying we should give them out in charity as
charity is a supererogatory or voluntary act of worship. No, never do I mean
any of this! What I mean here is that we should expiate for our own sins by
way of making them feel the duly blessings of brotherhood, neighborhood,
religious affiliation, and human compassion. Indeed, were it not for our and
the society's negligence, they would not have been in such bad and cruel
It goes without saying, if they feel the bitterness of deprivation in other
than Ramadan for once, they feel it more than a thousand times in Ramadan!
How many Muslims spread their tables with various colors of food and drink
every time they break their fast? Amazingly, only a little amount of these
extra foods and drinks may feed whole families, relinquish their thirst, and
wipe away the tears from the eyes of their groaning children.
Is there anyone of us who thinks about his nearby needy neighbor and destitute
Is there anyone of us who thinks he can save some of the food he prepares for
his own family on daily basis and decide to give it out to a poor family to
break their fast with?!
In fact, if every fasting well-off person feeds another who is poor, no one
will ever remain hungry or thirsty. If this really takes place, Ramadan will
turn into a season whose blessings do not cease or come to an end and we,
Muslims, will be the best of all nations for real.
Given this, let us search for the refugees, the homeless, the destitute and
those who lost their breadwinner to do ourselves good through supporting them
and to save ourselves from Allah's torment through sympathizing with them. It
is we who need them more than they need us!
Let every one of us remember that Allah the Almighty may not accept our
fasting or acts of obedience while there are hungry human beings whom we could
satisfy and unhappy fellows whom we can make happy around us. Finally, let us
remember the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in
which he says, ''The one who sleeps with a full stomach knowing that his
neighbor is hungry doesn't believe in me.'' (At-Tabarani)
A. S. Halawani is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Misr
University for Science Technology (MUST); Former Editor-in-Chief of the
Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and
Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member
of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World
Association of Arab Translators Linguists (WATA).