Fasting month a month of sacrifice and discipline

THIS holy month of Ramadan is very special to me. It is the month in which I treasure the sacrifices of my dearest Muslim brothers and sisters.

The numerous "buka puasa" stalls with food galore and unique cakes and "kuih" add on to the pleasantness of this auspicious month as well as adding another feather to the cap of our beautiful country. I enjoy walking to the Raya Bazaars set up in almost every corner I turn to.

Be it Shah Alam or Taman Tun Dr Ismail or Bandar Sri Damansara, the ambience of the bazaar is just a wonder. It is so lively to walk in and out of this aromatic and delicious atmosphere filled with goodies and food that you will not see for the rest of the year till the next Ramadan.

The fast also reminds mankind that we must always be mindful and thoughtful of the poor and less fortunate, to share the feeling of enduring pangs of hunger and thirst even though for only a month. Other humble and righteous traits are also practised i.e. being obedient to the teachings of the Almighty, focusing on spiritual excellence, enhancing self-discipline, emanating spiritual rejuvenation and elevating divine consciousness, taming physical appetites, withstanding the temptation of lust and greed.

This is the wonderful moment to forget our differences and celebrate the bigness of everyone. We can forgive and forget the mistakes or the misdeeds of our friends, family members, and even our siblings. As humans, we make mistakes. This is the most opportune time to forget the ill and celebrate the well.

As a writer, I have been struggling to break my "writer's block" until a good friend and ex-colleague of mine, Mohd Jamil Zainal Abidin, sent me a message: "You are about the only person who is not observing the ritual of fasting during Ramadan and yet you are so steadfast in your greetings to ensure those who are fasting are blessed and have a meaningful Ramadan. Thank you my friend".

Thanks a bunch Tn Hj Jamil for your kindness in responding to my greetings. Yes, your response to my breakfast prose or poem not only broke my "writer's block", but also supports my other reason of loving the fasting month, that is to wish my Muslim brothers and sisters regularly without fail.

There are a few friends and relatives who respond to my daily greetings, many being busy with their daily chores. If Malaysia is still standing together as one, it is because Malaysians are still very beautiful and steadfast in their hearts and mind, admiring the peace and serenity of this beautiful nation.

Once in a while we get some crazy politician or some zealots who cause some strive and uneasiness among us, but nothing stops us from greeting each other during this beautiful month of fasting and Ramadan.

With horrifying devastation occurring in countries like Syria, Yemen, London or France, we must be ever so grateful that Malaysia is safe and secure, purely because every Malaysian cherishes the presence of each other and values the difference, rather than making a fuss of our differences.

Ramadan is a great month to show our respect to our Muslim brothers and sisters and also join them in this joyous and purest form of celebrations, rather than standing out and becoming a spectator. Likewise, it is my hope and prayer that the Muslim brothers and sisters would also join in for the coming Deepavali and Christmas festivities towards the end of the year.

We must practice the wonderful "open house" concept, which Malaysia is known for. This practice should not stop with the "baby-boomers" alone. The Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z must continue to observe this wonderful tradition.

Let's not be sceptical of our neighbours but instead go and visit them, savour the goodies and also get closer to those living around us. Also, Ramadan is a great month to cherish the beautiful Malaysia's inner strength embedded through the friendliness and closeness of every race in Malaysia. Whether we are in Sabah or Sarawak, Kangar or Johor, Kelantan or Kuala Lumpur, we are all Malaysians wanting a nation filled with love, care, respect, opportunities for all and above all safety and security.

It is through festivals like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Gawai, and Christmas, that we can raise the hallmark of peace and unity to the next level in our country. We must celebrate these festivities with respect for one another, and simultaneously cherish the wonderful fabric that has been successfully spun by our forefathers of our nation.

We shall not doubt one another nor impose our beliefs and values onto our neighbours. We shall always treat our neighbours with ultimate respect and understand their cultures. Through this way, we can further strengthen the camaraderie and peace within our nation.

Celebrations mean nothing if we do not enjoy them. We must learn to appreciate the wonderful understanding that we have developed all these years and further improve on it to make a better nation. If everyone could send greetings to each other not only during the fasting month but other occasions as well such as their birthdays and wedding anniversaries, imagine how peaceful and joyful we would become, leaving our work stress and problems behind.

As the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra, once mentioned that "Every one of us must respect each other's rights and feelings, be tolerant of each other's religions, customs and habits."

Right you are, Tengku. Let's cherish the beauty and appreciate the peace; welcome diversity yet preserve the sanctity of every race, religion and their feelings.

My Thoughts during this blessed month:

Happy Fasting

A Season for a Reason

Fasting for obedience

Fasting for Spiritual Excellence

Fasting to tame physical appetites

Fasting to subdue lust and greed

Fasting for self- discipline

Fasting emanates spiritual rejuvenation

Fasting elevates consciousness. — Bernama