Our good friend, Ramadan, has left us. And just as a good friend imbues good qualities in those he or she meets, Ramadan too, should have penetrated the essence of Islam into our hearts, spiritually recharging our souls, directing our conscious in subservience to Him.
Among the various objectives of fasting is taking accountability and having concern for one’s soul, family, friends and the collective Ummah. Frequently in our joyous celebrations we forget the latter of these connections. We should continue to remember those who constitute a part of the fabric of the collective Islamic conscious, and who are suffering on a daily basis, be it the Rohingiya who have been shunned by the international community, the Chinese Muslims who are being prohibited from fasting by the state, the innocent Muslims in the Middle East caught up in the dirty politics which make up the “Great Game”, or the Muslim in the West, who are treated as outcasts and uniquely subjected to security measures and contemporary epithets like “extremists” which replace “Pakis”, “Muzzies”, or “Saracens”.
Another objective of Ramadan is to become accustomed to difficulty, increasing physical and psychological hardiness. Through hunger and strenuous worship, our ability to bear hardship increases as we make Allah our focal point for our dependence. As Allah Almighty says,
O you who have believed, seek aid through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient ones. (al-Qur’an, 2:153)
It was needed as I endured another message from our good Prime Minister David Cameron. To his credit, he did not bring up the First World War and how Muslims were made to kill other Muslims for “our freedoms”. There was however, his staple neocon doublespeak. On this occasion, the previous record was broken. On the onset of Ramadan, Cameron had issued a message to Muslims about this special month. Within days Muslims were smeared with the brush of terrorism by the perceptive PM. According to Cameron, Muslims were apparently “quietly condoning” terrorism, reinforcing negative Muslim stereotypes and legitimising the narratives of far-right hate-mongers.
With his Eid message, within two minutes, Cameron talked about “teaching the lessons of that atrocity [Srebrenica massacre] far in to the future” on the one hand, and on the other, drew attention to ISIS, terrorism and the threat to “our way of life”, in what was meant to be a celebratory Eid message to Muslims.
Is there a speech about Muslims where the PM does not patronise? This is precisely the spiel that reveals the image of the Muslim embedded in Cameron’s psyche, which subconsciously associates terrorism with Muslims, and manifests a reality which forces policy perspectives on Muslims to be taken from the vantage point of security and which invariable profiles the Muslim minority. The culmination of this is the criminalisation of Islam and Muslims because of their beliefs. It is like sending out a Christmas message and drawing attention to the need to protect “our” children from paedophilic priests, or exhorting the need for more responsible capitalism in a Chanukah message to Jews – the only difference is there would be no civil-liberties-destroying policies in the background targeting each of these faith groups in a discriminatory fashion.
We are not blind Mr Cameron. We observe. And we no longer accept hand-outs of congratulatory veils behind which sit a security machine designed by fascist neocons – some of whom you have appointed senior ministers – discriminatorily targeting the Muslim minority.