Realisation of hunger promotes better understanding

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 21, 2021

Muslims praying at the Holy Kaaba in Mecca

Hunger is perhaps the worst enemy of mankind.

Millions of people including men, women and children live under subhuman conditions throughout the world, while hundreds of thousands die every year owing to hunger, under-nourishment and malnutrition.

It is unforgivable that while rich nations are willing to spend billions of dollars on armament and to go to war against nations in the name of restoring democracy, they do little to rescue those who die owing to starvation. It is unforgivable that in the 21st Century, with science and technology taking man to the Mars and beyond, there are still impoverished people who cannot be assured of two meals a day.

Significance of realisation

Realisation of hunger would perhaps be the single most effective factor in fostering human equity and human welfare.

Realisation of hunger is perhaps the single most important message of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

For, from morning to dusk, Muslims around the world observe abstinence from food and drink for a whole month- right now, during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Such abstinence extends from dusk to dawn for weddings, festivities and other joys of life, including sex.

Austerity, piety and a sincere concern for fellow beings are the hallmarks of this month, which is why it is Holy.

I have known Muslims everywhere think of the poor and the impoverished throughout the year, and more so during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

I have known them to give food, clothing, material goods and money to those in greater need, sometimes at the expense of their pleasure and comfort.

Muslims praying at the Grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad (AP Picture)

Self-denial and sharing

I have also known many who follow the path of self-denial, just to see that the unfortunate have at least the basic needs of life.

I believe that it is such a feeling of compassion and giving that underscores the meaning and purpose of being a Muslim and the spirit of Ramadan.

It is often said that many have strayed from the teachings of Islam and that many have forgotten the ideals of this great religion.

It is often said that the main purpose of the Holy Month is not just to ‘show to the world that one is fasting,’ but to realise that it is hunger that is one of the worst enemies of the human race that unlike the animal world, those in plenty should aid those in starvation.

Almost every religion emphasises the importance of learning how one part of the world lives in bounty and pleasure, while another part lives in utter want and scarcity.

The one that has plenty for today and tomorrow should rescue the other that believes that misery rules today and that tomorrow would certainly not occur.

I have not heard of anyone becoming poorer by taking care of the poor.

The spirit of philanthropy

On that score, I have seen philanthropy thrive in the Islamic world of the Arab Gulf and here in New Zealand.

I have seen a few Samaritans who have added value to the Islamic religion, to the Islamic people and most important of all to the human race.

They go about their jobs quietly, without seeking favour or publicity.

I have known of their selfless service and tried to project them through the columns of this newspaper, not to serve as eulogy but as an example for others to follow.

There are few people like Ahmed Bhamji for instance, who have risen above the human barriers of religion, faith, language, income and social status to help those in need, here in New Zealand and in Fiji, his home country.

I have always considered it an honour to know them and be inspired by what they do, not only because they believe in equality of all beings before God but also because they believe in equality of all beings upon this earth.

It is often said that every man and woman who fasts during the Holy Month of Ramadan, emerges stronger, with a more intense feeling for fellow beings.

There comes a revelation, year after year, of the need to be humble, helpful and honourable towards the community in which they live.

That in fact is the true spirit of Ramadan.

We live in the hope that Eid-Al-Fitr this year will bring together more people and foster in them the feeling of oneness.

A feeling of oneness is an integral part of Islam.

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