In developed countries such as the UK, the blessed month of Ramadan is most readily linked to a month-long fast, which is a rarity when compared to the rest of the year. Despite this, those in developing countries are forced to endure hunger for prolonged periods of time throughout the year and have no idea when they’ll eat next. Even if privileged individuals feel hungry throughout their day’s fast, they know that they have a tasty Iftar waiting for them when the sun sets. The fasting in Ramadan meaning is very different in countries where food is sparse. Hunger is just one of the struggles that Muslims in developing countries face during Ramadan, as well as the rest of the year.
Why Is Ramadan Important?
Ramadan is one of the most important months of the Islamic calendar as it’s a time in which Muslims are dedicated to deepening their connection with Allah (SWT). Poverty shouldn’t stand in the way of one’s ability to partake in the customs of the holy month; however, it can be a real obstacle for some. Detailed below are just some of the hardships that people in developing countries are subjected to during Ramadan.
Here at Orphans in Need, we’re active in various countries in Asia and Africa, meaning that the climate is typically very hot, even when Ramadan is in winter. This makes it much harder to partake in Ramadan fasting, as it’s easy to become dehydrated in such extreme temperatures. In order to prevent dehydration from setting in, it’s a good idea to refrain from a lot of strenuous activity. Unfortunately this isn’t an option for most, as they must perform laborious outdoor tasks in order to earn a living. As a result, these poor individuals are subjected to hours of intense sunlight and have no way of combatting dehydration.
Should an individual experience dehydration during their Ramadan fast, it’s permitted to break the fast and pay Fidya; however, people in developing countries often don’t even have the means of doing this. Instead, they must suffer through the dehydration, which can lead to dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue, fainting, and, eventually, death.
It’s common knowledge that it’s not permitted to consume water or food during the daylight hours of Ramadan. This difficult task is only exacerbated in countries where the sun is up for the majority of the day. In developed countries, we’re able to take provisions by waking up in the early hours for a sustainable Suhoor and finishing our day with a hearty Iftar. This isn’t the case for those in developing countries, as food is sparse and often lacks the necessary nutrients that one needs to sustain themselves for hours on end. As a result, these long and painful days only feel longer.
In addition to long, hot, and laborious days, people in developing countries often live in makeshift shelters or even on the streets. Unlike privileged individuals, they can’t simply hide away in their brick-and-mortar homes or curl up for a comfortable nap when fasting is getting too taxing. Instead, they must endure the unbearable heat that is only worsened by shelters made of metal or limited shade.
Similarly, the lack of adequate shelter results in an inability to store and prepare food. On top of this, people’s living quarters are often not plumbed, meaning water isn’t readily accessed. Therefore, people are unable to prepare themselves for upcoming fasts and replenish themselves after a long day of fasting. Plenty of nutritious food and safe drinking water is needed during the night for someone to succeed in fasting – these are simply not available to those living in such impoverished conditions.
As previously mentioned, food is an imperative measure when it comes to successfully completing a fast. Anyone who doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from must take what they can when they can in order to survive. As a result, partaking in the Ramadan custom of fasting is virtually impossible. This can lead to strong feelings of guilt, as people in need may feel as though they’re not fulfilling their duty to Allah (SWT). Although, this shouldn’t be the case, as the premise of Ramadan is that capable and privileged individuals should provide aid to those in need. There is a lot of emphasis placed on Ramadan fasting, but this isn’t the sole purpose of the holy month.
What Can We Do to Help?
As capable and privileged Muslims, it’s our duty to use these advantages to benefit those in need. This is particularly important during Ramadan, as this is a time in which we must acknowledge and appreciate the blessings that Allah (SWT) has graced us with. It’s important to remember that we don’t truly own anything, and our wealth is a gift from Allah (SWT), meaning that we should share this wealth with those who aren’t so fortunate.
Donate to Orphans in Need to fulfil your religious duty this Ramadan.