HOLY MONTH: Muslims fast from dawn to dusk in spirit of unity.
Ramadaan Kareem.

By this time next week, Muslims all over the world will have started fasting for the month of Ramadaan.

Ramadaan is the ninth month of the year on the Islamic calender, and fasting during this month constitutes the fourth pillar in Islam.

Islam is based on five pillars, the framework of the Muslim’s life, and represents the duties of every Muslim.

They are as follows:

* The Shahadah (testimony of faith). Muslims recite with conviction: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of Allah.

* Salaah (prayer) is the second pillar of Islam.

* Zakah is the compulsory giving of a set portion of one’s wealth to charity and the needy.

* Fasting during Ramadaan. Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk. Exceptions are made for the sick, the elderly and pregnant females.

* Performing Hajj is the fifth pillar. All Muslims who are of sound mind and financially able, are required to perform Hajj at least once in their lives.

Besides being one of the pillars of Islam, Ramadaan is special in many other ways.

It is the month in which the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, was revealed to Muslims.

Fasting in Ramadaan helps build and heighten Islamic values - such as compassion, patience, diligence and trust in the Almighty.

Fasting establishes equality between the rich and the poor. It makes those who have more experience the pangs of hunger and struggles of those who have less, and subsequently creates more awareness, sympathy and compassion for the less fortunate.

This value is very important in today’s tough times. Often we get so carried away by how well we are doing, that we end up measuring our success by how much we earn and own, and we forget about the millions who struggle just to survive every day.

Ramadaan makes it impossible for Muslims to ignore the plight of the needy.

Fasting in Ramadaan is about so much more than just abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse.

It is more importantly about nourishing the soul. The fasting person should enhance and enrich his fasting with the remembrance of the Almighty, the recitation of the Holy Qur’an and prayer.

Ramadaan is the perfect time to let go of bad habits such as vanity, gossip, overeating and smoking.

Your fast is not regarded as successful just because you stayed away from food.

If you don’t perform your prayers, still indulge in bad behaviour, swear and gossip while you fast - you are merely starving yourself.

It really defeats the purpose of giving up food and sex, if continue to be ugly and hurtful towards others.

Ramadaan is the perfect time to take stock of our lives and rearrange our priorities, so that we may become better Muslims and better people on the whole.

Ramadaan comes with the mercy, blessings and forgiveness of the Almighty - and the gates of hell are closed in this month.

It is therefore important that Muslims make the most of this month by performing as much prayer and doing as much good as they possibly can.

Ramadaan is the ideal time to exercise control of our tongues, to avoid conflict and to strive toward unity.

Los nou a bietjie die Klopse skinner! Hou op met die nagtroep drama.

We should stop being so judgemental in pointing out the flaws of others, while forgetting our own shortcomings.

Let’s rather concentrate on being better people on this dunyah (earth), so that we may be rewarded in the aaghierah (afterlife), inshallah (God willing).

We all sin. We are all flawed. And we are therefore all blessed to be granted another Ramadaan in which we can strive to do better and be better, not only for this month, but in our lives going forward.

I wish all Muslims a Ramadaan Kareem. May all your prayer and good deeds be accepted, inshallah.

And don’t forget to keep up the Kaapse tradition of sending out those bordjies!