Ramadhan is here; it is so unfortunate that most of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the remote areas find it extremely difficult to cope during Ramadhan.
Ignorance is one of the challenges that some Muslims are facing in the remote areas. I have observed some practices taking place during Ramadhan that are not acceptable in Islam like fasting without praying, listening to music while fasting, and breaking the fast with cigarettes or alcohol.
We need to create more awareness about the month of Ramadhan. It may sound cumbersome, considering those we may need to reach live in inaccessible areas, but if we join hands through networking, we can reach out to our respective communities. Here in Kenya, we have Muslims living in remote areas that don’t even have mosques or madrasas (Islamic schools). Some of the Muslims don’t have access to the internet to learn more about Islam. It may be harder for them to pray in congregation, and they miss out on Taraweh prayers, which are recommended during Ramadhan. We might not be able to reach out to all of them, but at least we can give it a try.
I believe it is our responsibility to try and reach out. The local Imams also have a big role to play in their respective areas and they are in a better position to air the grievances of their people to Islamic organizations that deal with initiatives such as helping those in need. It is Allah (SWT) who guides those that he wills, but it is us, Muslims, who have the responsibility of delivering the message, just like the Prophet (SAW) did.
There is also the issue of reverts who have no one to guide them through the pillars of Islam. Not all are capable of coming to the centres that offer Islamic studies, and this creates an additional hurdle for some brothers and sisters. There are some different organizations that are really trying to reach out through da’awa programmes, especially during Ramadhan, but as I mentioned earlier, there is still a big lot that remain unreached.
Recorded lectures and magazines on the topic of Ramadhan can be distributed in those areas. Building mosques and madrasas can be a long-term goal, but makeshift mosques and madrasas can be built to enable the Muslims, who don’t have permanent mosques, to pray the five daily prayers and Qiyamul-layl in congregation. Mobile phones can also come in handy for sharing Ramadhan lessons via text messages.
There are Muslims who fast without having Suhur or Iftar, and some depend on well-wishers to provide for them. Though there are food programmes that focus on the needy in remote areas, for one reason or another, some remain left out. I have seen most mosques offer Iftar. Still, there are those Muslims who come from far, and after Iftar, it becomes a challenge for them to return home.
Those muslims who live in the remote areas and are financially stable can invite the needy Muslims to their houses for Iftar and provide transportation back home or can buy foodstuff and distribute to the families in need.
During the last ten days of Ramadhan, it is suggested that a Muslim should spend at least a half of his/her night in Qiyamul-layl prayers, as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) recommended. For those who cannot make it to congregation prayers due to a number of factors, e.g. time, security, and bad weather conditions, locals with means can organize for transportation and Suhur meals for those interested in attending the prayers in mosques. Ramadhan is a month that comes once a year for just a fixed number of days as is explained in Al- Baqarah, verse 184. It is also the month in which the Qur’an was revealed, as a guidance for mankind.
So brothers and sisters, let’s seize this opportunity to grab all good deeds to fill our baskets for the hereafter! We are not sure if we will live to see all 30 days, so we have to pray and hope that Allah grants us life.
Fasting is the third pillar of Islam and is compulsory for every sane and mature Muslim. It is prescribed for us as it was for the people before us that we may be al-Muttaqun (Baqarah, 183). We are each other’s keepers and the duty to create awareness and to make a difference this Ramadhan is in our hands.
We each have different capabilities to do what we can, from spreading knowledge to offering a glass of water and dates for Iftar, not only to Muslims in remote areas, but also those in prisons, hospitals, and conflict-ridden areas.
Don’t hold back; you never know whether your assistance, however small it may be, can make a change in a Muslim’s life. Among many good deeds, sadaqa-tul-jaariah (ceaseless charity) , is one of the best. May Allah accept our efforts, have mercy on us, and grant us Jannah. Ameen!