Hundreds of people from all walks of life , creed and faith join their Muslim friends in devouring the rich choices of food available on sale. A scene like this is common everywhere throughout Sarawak towns and villages during the month of Ramadan.
Today ( 11th of August ) is the first day of Ramadan. I am on the annual regimented schedule of fasting. My record for the month of Ramadan has been good since 1992 when I consistently set myself to fast for the mandatory 30 days period ( though in certain years my record could be less than 30 days due to various reasons). A five mile drive from where I'm staying in Kuching is the Mile 7 'Ramadan Bazaar' ( see inset) where tents were set up for food vendors from whom I bought some goodies for breaking of fast this evening. In Sarawak and elsewhere in the world, the month of Ramadan is for devout Muslims considered a holy month. From sunrise to sunset they abstain from enjoying their normal meals and drinks. They promise themselves to do more good deeds and observe all the obligatory practices of the Islamic faith. It is believed that every good deed will be rewarded with from ten to seven hundred the like of it, except fasting which God will recompense by his own will. For has it not be said that God finds the odour of the mouth of the fasting person sweeter than the fragrance of musk.
To many Muslim, Ramadan is a period of intensive refraining from food, drink and sexual pleasures from morning to the sunset prayers. It is believed that by constricting the avenues and networks that Satan manifest best their evil ways in our bodies we keep Satan agrounded ( out of job for a while?) in their endless attempts to lure human beings on the wayward and misguided paths through anger and appetite. Thus the fasting month affords every Muslim a golden opportunity to save themselves from wrecking their bodily organs from sins and acts of disobedience: the eyes from looking at caprice and appetite, the ear from listening to nonsense, obscenity and idle talk, the hand, foot and other members of the body from acts made unlawful and forbidden. Yet the most fortunate among them would be those who can examine their thoughts and preventing their innermost consciousness from paying attention to anything other than God.
" He guides whomsoever He wills to a straight path".
What is the gain from all these? Lest we forget God can only be contained in our hearts. Imagine the Force, The Eternal, The Majesty , The Real embracing one's heart.
By practicing one of the five tenets of Islam i.e. the observation of fasting during the month of Ramadan, the Muslim man or woman underscores the spirit of Islam and will hopefully find the elusive peace he or she has long searched for.