By Frasat Ahmad – Missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, serving in USA
Our world works in strange dichotomies and stark contrasts. Gluttony and starvation, for example, exist hand in hand today. In one part of the world, a plump child stuffing his mouth with food runs the risk of a plethora of health complications, while in another part of the world, a starving child with a skeletal body desperately desires food.
Right now, 820 million people across the world are wondering where their next healthy meal will come from. Where does Ramadan fit into all of this? From today, hundreds of millions of Muslims will choose to forego their meals every day, from dawn to dusk, for a month, for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is upon us.
As our stomachs singe in hunger, Muslims are reminded that hundreds of millions of starving souls are forced to feel this burn every single day, with no end in sight. Have you ever wondered why we are taught that the gates of Paradise are opened in Ramadan, whilst the gates to Hell are closed? Perhaps our paradise lies in putting ourselves through a form of temporary torment and putting ourselves in the shoes of those less fortunate. We are taught that we can shield ourselves from Hell, even by giving half a date in charity. Muslims know well that the Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) generosity in Ramadan would gain the intensity of fierce wind. But are we putting this into practice?
It is a powerful lesson to learn. As we unashamedly fill our plates to the brink with delicious food, we must remember those who haven’t even had a bite to eat in days. As we unbuckle our waist belts to give room to our bursting bellies, we must think about those who have to tighten their waist belts because they have no food to eat. And as they tighten their waist belts, we must not tighten our fists. It is what Prophet Muhammad (sa) taught. God Almighty will one day ask us, “O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. Did you not know that had you fed my servant, you would surely have found Me with him?” (Muslim)
It is also what the Second Coming of Christ, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) taught:
“You should show love and compassion to all people. Allah commands us to feed the hungry, free those shackled in bondage, pay off the arrears of those mired in debt, shoulder the burdens of others and fulfil the rights of sincere love owed to mankind.”
These words must not fall upon deaf ears. Empty rituals to remain hungry will serve no good unless they are paired with practice.
On 10th April, 2020 Friday Sermon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) stated:
“For these are indeed the days to serve humanity; and as the Promised Messiah (as) has instructed, ‘You must inculcate within yourselves the spirit of compassion.’ Again, these are the days to serve humanity.”
Thankfully, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community worldwide has not turned a blind eye to these instructions. Its USA Youth Association served more than 22,500 meals to the needy and helped 3,400 families with free food and medicine delivery in March alone. Its Youth Association in UK has thus far helped 5,800 households, providing them with food and medicine, alongside supporting 43 local councils, charities and food banks. And other countries are following suit.
Pandemic or no pandemic, the followers of the Promised Messiah (as) will forever continue to “bandage the wounds of those in pain, to remove the anxieties of those who are distressed and to show love and compassion without any desire for recognition or worldly reward.”