Ramadhan: Do not be wasteful or extravagant, remember the suffering poor

Today is the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and Muslims worldwide will observe fasting and in the evening perform the tarawih prayer in mosques and surau.

Ramadan is a holy month, a month when the al-Quran that is full of lessons for mankind was revealed. We should be prepared to welcome this month with the hope that it will make us a better human being in the sight of Allah SWT.

Disclosure by a local newspaper about wastefulness during Ramadan is appalling. The report revealed that 1,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by Malaysians a day during the fasting month. 1,000 one-tonne trucks are needed to transport the waste that is dumped and this amount can provide for 7 million people.

During Ramadan, there is an advertisement galore of buffet-style iftar (breaking fast) offering hundreds of dishes and desserts at restaurants and hotels around the country.

Iftar buffet is becoming increasingly popular among Muslims in the country and it shows that the lives of some Muslims in this country are increasingly filled with luxuries.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) finds that this extravagance is repeated every Ramadan, although it is often reminded that we should not be wasteful and should prioritize worship.

CAP calls and urges Muslims to avoid wastage and extravagance during Ramadan and also in other months because extravagance that brings about waste is not part of Islamic teachings.

In addition, Muslims must also realize the plight of the poor and Muslims in other countries who are not fortunate enough to meet their daily needs.

During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to eat healthy food during Iftar and Sahur, and forbidden to waste, but unfortunately there are still many of us who cook too much food or the easiest way is to buy so many different dishes sold in the market and Ramadan bazaar, which flourishes during this month.

Because too much food is served, most of it is not eaten and eventually wasted. Such wasting is prohibited by Islam and against the concept of Ramadan itself.

Every year as soon as Ramadan begins, hotels and restaurants are flooded with Ramadan buffet advertisements enticing Muslims to break their fast there. This year the price of Ramadan buffet offered by hotels and restaurants have increased.

With rates as low as RM28++ to RM100 ++, one can eat and drink as much as you like with a variety of food that spanned more than 400 dishes and delicious desserts.

Indirectly this Ramadan buffet will distract and divert Muslims from appreciating the wisdom of fasting on this blessed month. Ramadan is a month of worship, not to be filled with the main focus on food.

Although there are also hotels that provide patrons surau facilities for obligatory prayers and tarawih prayers, because Ramadan is a holy month, it is greater eminence to pray in the mosque.

Although devouring food is prohibited in Islam, but there is nothing that can prevent Muslims from bowing to their desire during breaking of fast. Some also view that they should eat as much as possible, worth the money spent.

Because too much food is placed in the dish, many people cannot finish them and eventually it is wasted. Extravagance that brings about excessive wastage is not part of Islamic teachings.

Do Muslims not realize that food is a great gift for us and we will be questioned in the hereafter of our wastage?

Remember Allah SWT says in Surah Al A’raaf, verse 3, “Eat and drink, and be not extravagant. Surely Allah loves not the wasters.” While Surah Al-Israa’, verse 26 and 27 states, “And do not waste: indeed the wasteful are friends of Satan.”

Truly know that Ramadan is the holy month of all months of the year and Allah SWT willed all his servants to fulfil this month with acts of worship, obedience and taqarrub (be closer) to Him to purify themselves.

Continued gluttony in one’s life will satisfy and nourish the soul with obstinacy and obsessiveness and hopefully this Ramadan will be able to develop the Muslim community with compassion and caring nature.

Letter to the Press, 18 June 2015