Saturday, 23 September 2006

Finding strength in abstinence

‘Ramadan is a time for contemplation and renewal, and it can create a powerful sense of global unity among Muslims.’

From Rafiq at 11:02pm

Asalaamu alaikum and Ramadhan Mubarak.  I do happen to think that there is a link between the thunder and lightening of the reaction to the Pope's address and the rantings of Abu Izzadeen[1]  this week on the Today programme and Mr Bunglawala's timely and valuable reminder[2] of what Islam is actually supposed to be about.

The link is that there is a huge disparity between the philosophy of Islam and the barbaric mindlessness of those who do their worst by their own example to undermine the richness of Islam. The richness of Islam is one it shares with the other world faiths and other philosophies based on the essential goodness of the human spirit.
It is right to question why, if during Ramadhan the gates of hell are supposed to be barred and the devils are supposed to be in chains, there is an upsurge in obscene murders. It is right to question why, if Ramadhan is supposed to encourage the spirit of abstinence and identification with the more unfortunate of our sisters and brothers there is an upsurge of mortality and morbidity from diabetes, vascular and kidney diseases as a result of overeating this month.
This world is characterised by two eating disorders: the disorder of starvation and the disorder of gluttony. Why don't we learn from the West's experiences in recent times? During the second world war the nation's diet was controlled by dint of Admiral Doenitz' U boats and it did the nation's health a lot of good. At least it did good for those who were not blown to smithereens.
I do think that it is time that serious consideration was given to re-introducing a modern form of rationing. I am strongly opposed to identity controls and oppressive bureaucracy because I think the state is the servant of the people and not the other way around. If, however, modern technology were employed to ration our food intake in the face of a serious and expensive threat to the public health then I might be tempted to modify my opinion. I am not attacking freedom. Freedom to disproportionately consume the world's resources is not real freedom at all.
As a start I would beg my fellow Muslims to eat less in total this month than they usually do. To put aside the shopping money saved to feed and clothe the poor as they are supposed to do. Iftari parties are all well and good but let them be simple and preferably vegetarian. Let’s really follow the teachings of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and leave at least a third of our bellies empty.

From Rafiq at 11:55pm

I'm sorry for the omission. Shalom alaikhem and Shana Tova for our dear Jewish sisters and brothers. May this New Year bring new understanding and remove old animosities.

I do not agree with those who would wish to suppress the informative article by Mr Bunglawala. They also do their cause an injustice by expressing their views with abusive language. This is an excellent chance to look at a tradition which has its roots in all religions. If the only purpose of getting non-firebrand Muslims to talk is to condemn the firebrand ones then that is just a curtailment of open discussion. That would surely be contrary to the whole purpose of this group.
Let’s try to understand each other. We live in a wonderfully diverse society. Yes, let’s learn about Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic, Jain traditions; indeed about every sort of tradition there is. That isn't the role of a secular newspaper? Oh yes it is. A newspaper is there to inform and analyse and encourage debate. At least a real newspaper is. Our cultures, traditions and religions shape the background of our thoughts; our thoughts shape our actions and our actions shape events which becomes the news you report.