For many of us, the holy month of Ramadan has come to mean only taraweeh, suhour and iftar. In the rush to prepare for social occasions with family and friends, we often forget that Ramadan is basically a time for reflection - that time of the year when we recharge our iman, reiterate the values of kindness and self-discipline, even as we prepare for the challenges of the year ahead.
This is the time to remind ourselves the necessity of leading an exemplary life and reaffirming the quality of taqwa or consciousness of God.
In the modern age, however, many of us face personal conflict between our lifestyle choices, financial practices and Islamic principles. The holy month, therefore, is the most appropriate time for us to reflect on whether our financial decisions, saving and spending habits and social duties are in consonance with Islamic ethics.
In Ramadan, most of us are besieged by tempting offers and endless goodies. An increase in social interaction during this period, results in many people going overboard with spending. We forget that Ramadan is about abstinence from food and drink during the day and avoidance of wastage. It is about breaking down social barriers between rich and poor and a period in which the rich suffer hunger pangs to understand the plight of the less-fortunate.
Let us recall what the Holy Quran says:
".And upon those who are able (to fast, but only with hardship), a ransom (as substitute) of feeding a poor person (each day). And whoever volunteers extra - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew." (Quran 2:184)
Therefore, for us to waste money on excess food and revelry is certainly not be in keeping with the spirit of Ramadan.
Therefore, as most of you may have already planned Ramadan well in advance, avoiding precious funds being wasted in buying last-minute goods that will be thrown away later. Those who have not, for the days ahead, need to be cautious in how you spend.
Islam encourages every person to conduct good financial practices. This involves devising sound investment plans, while saving for rainy days and spending wisely to build a secure financial future.
Ethical financial management can give us great peace of mind, and as Muslims, we must give priority to investments through halal products and solutions in order to gain a halal income.
Fortunately, Dubai is now the hub of Islamic economy and finance. We have access to many Shariah-compliant investment products.
After the global financial meltdown, Islamic finance is being looked upon as a more dependable format for conducting transactions. The UAE's Islamic banks banks now offer a plethora of investment options including sukuk, Islamic funds, Islamic deposits and saving schemes. All such products are carefully vetted to ensure that investments are made only in ethical products and sectors that factor in their impact on society and the environment.
Today, both Muslim and non-Muslim investors can opt for Islamic financing that is less stressful and more benign, since Islam does not believe in the concept of interest.
Importance of donation
Apart from investing for material well-being, a good Muslim also 'invests' in 'eternal' gains, by of allocating a percentage of our income to donations or financial aid.
We must remember the poor and the importance of zakat and that allocating a percentage of income to donations is of particular significance during Ramadan.
However, rather than contributing to an individual, or just donating for the sake of it, we can also pool resources and contribute to reputable institutions, which will disburse the funds appropriately.
Ethical lifestyle choices
Finally, let us understand that the ethical choices we make during the month of Ramadan must be carried over throughout the year.
Every aspect of our lives needs to be scrutinised to ensure we are following the principles of ethical living. And once we do this kind of minute self-introspection of our choices in life, it will translate to a better life all around - and that includes financial stability and comfort.
Let us use this blessed month to step back, evaluate our financial decisions and choices and live a life based on Islamic principles and moderation, not just during Ramadan, but our entire lives.
By Sami Al Awadi
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