RAMADAN is the month of sacrifice and abstinence. So, of all the months of the lunar calendar that Muslims all over the world follow, Ramadan is the holiest. Muslims everywhere observe this month with due solemnity and devotion. The Muslims of Bangladesh, who are very steadfast in their religious faith and also very pious, do also greet this month this year with a new pledge to establish the true spirit of Islam in their day-to-day lives.
But what is the best way to establish the true spirit of Islam in this month of fasting and abstinence? Does it consists in just observing the rituals like taking sehri before daybreak, abstaining from foods, drinks or taking any kind of addictive substance during the hours of fasting and having breakfast -- which is often sumptuous among the more economically solvent Muslim devotees -- and saying the prayers as usual? These are undoubtedly the most important aspects of the observance of Ramadan. But those are still the outward features of the basic spirit of this holy month. One may well practise these rituals religiously, but continue to violate the inner spirit of the sanctity of this important pillar of Islam everyway. A few instances will suffice to explain the relevance of this discussion in the present context.
Being a country with overwhelmingly Muslim population, the majority of the people who run the affairs of the state, the business, the administration and all other activities in every walk of life are also followers of this great faith. The people who control the essentials market have certainly not come from Mars! Most of them are obviously faithful Muslims who observe the fundamental tenets of Islam. But then how is it possible that the faithful have to undergo the worst kind of sufferings, especially during Ramadan? Why is it that the prices of essentials, especially of the ingredients of iftar items skyrocket on the eve of as well as during every Ramadan without exception? The reasons in support of this price hike are certainly legion. And the man in the street, too, knows that since long. The officials and employees in the offices of the various government departments are, of course, God fearing people and there is no question that they observe the month of Ramadan with due devotion. But has one ever noticed that the practice of taking bribe and different other forms of corruption have never stopped for a moment in this holy month? On the contrary, the underhand dealings have a tendency to increase and the clients of the various services delivered by these offices have also to pay a premium to cover the risks of Ramadan! Which is why the question of establishing the true spirit of Ramadan is so important.
Ramadan should not be a matter of just abstaining from food and drinks during the daytime and saying the regular prayers. These are just the exteriors of the Ramadan rituals. They have no real significance unless the practitioner of the rituals also stops telling lies, cheating fellow people by way of making super profits while dealing in the essential commodities and taking bribes from others in exchange for services to which the latter are normally entitled.
The government servants, especially the police, the employees of service-providing organs like electricity, telephone, water and sewerage authority, the various road and water transport authorities, the public works departments and the like need to demonstrate more self-restraint and moderation during this holy month. The private and autonomous organisations like the private transport companies, commercial bodies providing essential service to the people need also to show moderation and restraint. They must make profit, but not hold the people to ransom for windfall gains. This is how the holy month of abstinence can be befittingly observed.