English Column: It’s Ramadan but have you forgotten about Syria?
Picture by ~z-sawra of deviantart.com
The most awaited month of the year has come; Ramadan is now our esteemed guest. Ramadan brings change to the people. People are more generous with free iftar everywhere, family ties are tightened and mosques are flooded with lots of activities.
In a typical day of Ramadan with your family, it will begin in the early hours of the morning. Families will wake up early in the morning to cook the pre-dawn meal called sahur (the first food). Meanwhile the food is being cooked, the other family members who are not in the kitchen would fill the time chatting, telling stories, reading the Quran or praying. The call to prayer signals the beginning of fasting for the day and also telling that daylight will take its tack.
As the daylight hours warm up, parents would go to work or finish their chores at home. Minors would prefer having a shuteye or recite the Quran with whoever is available and go deep in the meaning of the verses. Working hours end earlier during Ramadan as it makes it easy for parents to prepare food for the happiest moment of a Muslim: Iftar.
Prior to dusk, families will get together once more to cook food for iftar. Others might prefer buying readily cooked food from bazars or stalls. After that they would go for taraweh at mosques praying 8 or 20 rakaats depend on their preference.
That is the conventional scene we witness every year in our place, but what about places suffering from drought and war?
Ramadan should be a time to think about those less fortunate and a time to think about what the month really means: its challenges, joys, and trials.
Have you forgotten about Syria?
But for the Syrian observers of fasting, Ramadan is like no other. Living the life of a normal observer is a fantasy with the brutal attacks from the government forces not only persistent but getting merciless in recent weeks. It is unimaginable how many mothers have seen their husbands arrested; children abused and killed totaling the estimation of death toll of 16,000 (and still counting) since March last year. A time supposed to be peace and tranquility has changed into an age of fear.
With the loud banging of bombs and sounds of screams from innocent humans as reckless bullets pierce their bodies, what would a young Syrian think about of the bafflement surrounding him or her? How would the death of their loved ones affect their upbringing? Will the hatred from the deaths making them want to take revenge soon?
Syria was one of the most preferred places to learn Arabic as their Arabic dialect there is the closest to the official Arabic language. But sadly, with the dictatorship of Assad regime’s crushing his own people accusing them as “terrorists,” it would take years for Syria to revive back again to the point Syria once was.
Have you not learned anything from Syria?
The Syrian people, not like many of us, may not have ample time spending hours of Quranic recitation, making iktikaf, performing Qiamullail. But their deeds are multiplied by fighting in war with Assad’s soldiers, defending their loved ones from being inflicted pain or even making a tactical strategy.
In the short lecture at IIUM’s Mosque by Sheikh Muhammad Anas Naji before tarawikh yesterday (21 July 2012), he said “Assad’s regime is getting ghastlier by the minute. Innocent Syrians are forced to worship Bashar Assad by saying ‘La ilaha illa Assad’ in front of a picture of him. If the people refuse, they are killed. And some of the Syrians who declared Assad their deity, made sujud were killed by the sole reason of not making a sincere sujud.”
But still, however chronic the situation may be it will not impede Syrians from practicing their faith. “Despite the very hot weather and difficult situation, I’m fasting. I won’t lose my faith in war,” Abou Muhammad told AFP (Agence French-Presse) yesterday.
We, on the other hand, are limitless of time to execute as many ibadah as we can. But still, we choose to watch movies, Facebook and do other senseless stuff. It is as if we are the ones who are fortunate to live in peace and harmony but no, we are the less fortunate. We are not living in war but are striving less than Syrians.
Conclusion: Is it enough by only making du’as?
It is true that every little deed counts. But only by ‘sharing,’ ‘liking,’ ‘commenting’ and making rhetorical duas will not inflict a big impact on the liberation of Syria.
What you can do is; spread the awareness by writing articles about why it is crucial to help Syria or design irresistible wallpapers with catchy taglines for the purpose of sparking the people’s responsiveness. On facebook, rather than you update your daily diary like an open book for every to read, you better update a short commentary on the newest updates on Syria. Allah will count every little deed that you do.
The ultimate effort you can do is raise a fund for Syria. Organize talks and lectures about Syria and circulate donation boxes. Make sure the money collected is given to trusted NGOs to secure the security of the money.
Sharing,’ ‘liking,’ ‘commenting’ and making rhetorical du’as are insufficient. If you want to make a change, don’t wait for it but work for it. Rhetorical du’as must be followed up by practical du’as.
For those who are interested in donating for the liberation of Syria, IIUM’s Mosque in collaboration with Haluan Palestin is organizing a one week (21 – 27 July 2012) fund raising program.
It started yesterday with a short lecture by Sheikh Muhammad Anas Naji who was also the imam for taraweh.
For yesterday’s collection, the total was RM7073.00 + $70. 05 (Singaporean dollar) + a golden ring. That was only for one night. The organizers are anticipating more for the days to come and you can make that happen.
*I was just a participant at the Mosque.
 A Syrian bachelor and master holder of Arabic Language from University Al-Fathul Islami and Medinah International University respectively. Both universities are situated in Damascus, Syria.