Constituting one-fourth of the world’s population, Muslims are celebrating another month of Ramadan with elation and excitement. They, once again, feel the joy of receiving this month of God’s mercy and blessing, for which they have yearned after another year.
Once more, they look forward to savouring the spiritual pleasures of fasting, sahur (the pre-dawn meal) and iftar (the evening meal for breaking fast).
Inarguably, the month of Ramadan is a valuable opportunity for Muslims to atone for their mistakes, their sins and redeem themselves, deepen their faith, and discipline themselves. It is a significant opportunity for them to better comprehend the blessings of God and to properly give their thanks, while experiencing and understanding the living conditions of their Muslim brothers and sisters who are being tested with hunger, hardship, poverty, suffering, and difficulties.
Our Prophet decrees: He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbour to his side goes hungry. (Hakim, II, 15; Haysami, VIII, 167) In fact, almost three-fourths of our neighbours in the Islamic community are observing another Ramadan in hunger, poverty, misery and hardship. Across the globe, including Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Myanmar, our Muslim brothers and sisters are celebrating the month of Ramadan amidst war, conflict, bombings, occupation, exile, torture, oppression, abuse and injustice.
Let’s take a brief look at this terrifying picture of the world of Islam. In Syria, where there has been a bloodbath since March 2011, about 500,000 people have lost their lives and two million people have been injured.
More than four million Syrians are living as immigrants in foreign countries. Having been displaced within their own country, eight million Syrians are struggling to survive. These wronged people spend their everyday lives dodging barrel bombs and rockets dropped on their homes, schools and hospitals, while struggling with hunger, thirst and epidemics.
Left in ruins for the second time following the US bombardment in 2003, which resulted in a million deaths, today Iraq is juggling sectarian wars, along with suicide and terrorist attacks. While the government is beset by corruption and degeneracy, the Muslim population is living a life of poverty, misery, and fear.
As of now, there are 8,000 dead, 17,000 injured and three million disabled in the civil war in Yemen. Approximately 2.5 million Muslims have been displaced.
Muslims throughout the world of Islam are besieged by civil war, radical terrorism, hunger, thirst and epidemics. Countless lives have been lost in the bombardments of civilian settlements by warplanes. Hundreds of children die every day of starvation, and lack of clean water and healthcare.
The scale and severity of the conflicts between the rival groups that emerged in Libya, following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, increase with each passing day, and those who suffer are, again, innocent Muslim civilians who are caught in the crossfire. There are 2.5 million Muslims in the country who are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
No one even keeps count of the innocent civilians martyred by unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
Rohingya Muslims living in the Arakan state of Myanmar are being subject to inhumane oppression by Buddhist nationalists. Muslims there are not regarded as citizens of the country. The most fundamental human rights such as freedom of education, religion, marriage, travel and property ownership are restricted. They are exposed to arson, assault, torture and rape.
While hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have lost their lives as a result of the ever-increasing violence, hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya were forced to emigrate. As they are rejected by neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, they are driven into unprecedented despair. The status of the Rohingya refugees who were accepted by countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia is uncertain. It is essential that the Muslim world take immediate action to help these innocent people who have been left without an identity, country or protection.
Constantly beset by famine and drought, Somalia has seen 1.1 million Muslims displaced as a result of the conflicts that have been ongoing for many years. According to United Nation’s data, about one million people are in need of humanitarian aid to survive. Tens of infants and children lose their lives every day due to hunger.
In Central Africa, since March 2013, hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been displaced and tens of thousands of have lost their lives in the violence to the point where it could be considered ethnic cleansing.
The oppression and massacres of Muslims living in other African countries, whose natural resources were seized by Western colonial powers, continue as well. Muslims are prevented from having a place in any form of government. Through the continuous incitement of terrorism, violence, disorder and instability, Muslims are prevented from getting back on their feet and becoming powerful.
The refugees who fled war and massacre and took refuge in European countries are treated inhumanely and humiliated, and ultimately, deported from these countries. Their boats are punctured by the military forces, and poor refugees are left to drown in the dark waters of the Mediterranean without anyone showing concern for the lives of the infants, children and the elderly.
Innocent Muslims living in various regions of the United States and Europe are treated like terrorists and subjected to hatred, anger, violence and murder just as they are in the Philippines, Patani, Crimea, Niger, Kashmir, Sudan and other places.
Therefore, the month of Ramadan is an excellent opportunity for every Muslim to contemplate the painful scenes the Islamic world is forced to endure, ponder over it within your hearts and resolve to exert yourselves to the utmost in this regard.
Building on the spirit of unity and solidarity, a requirement of our religion, is the way to salvation for Muslims. There is great spiritual power in unity.
God commands Muslims to unite on His path and grants His blessings when they follow His orders. The spirit of Ramadan is a very powerful force that brings Muslims together in an atmosphere of solidarity and union. As long as we keep this spirit alive and remember the importance of unity as we stand together in Islam, Muslims will help each other to help the Muslim world become a peaceful, invincible and effective force.
Adnan Oktar's piece in New Straits Times: