Thank you Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my former Teaching Assistant (TA). Indeed, he was my TA in the Religion Department in the University of Ghana, Legon.
Mr Speaker, fasting is a religious obligation that is not insulated to only Muslims, but something that many religions globally, are engaged in. Our brothers and sisters in other faiths, particularly, Christians and the Jews also engage in fasting.
However, for Muslims fasting, aside the private fasting that every single Muslim who is healthy and who has the means to engage in does, one month of the year is devoted completely to fasting and we are told that when we sight the moon you then start the fasting for either 30 days or 29 days.
Mr Speaker, it is a month that, if one has, indeed, enjoyed in the 11 months, at least, he or she should devote a month to Allah. Allah himself said. “No one knows the reward of fasting except He (Allah) alone”, because when one fasts, it is not just limited to abstinence from food and water. But also abstinence from many things that would be used as a process of purification, in the sense that, once we abstain from certain bad deeds and we have done this consistently for 30 or 29 days, the expectation is that, after the month of fasting, we would continue with the good behaviour that we have inculcated with within the month.
Now, it is a period when one avoids eating and drinking water -- but when one gets into a room and eats and drinks, it is only Allah who knows; nobody will know. And that is the reason Allah says that only He knows the reward of fasting, and that He genuinely and sincerely will give the reward to those who indeed, have fasted sincerely and genuinely.
It is also a month that we begin to understand what poor people go through. Now, if we can get three square meals a day, there are many people, indeed, who have lived in the state of fasting for years. Once you do not take meals from dawn to dusk, we would appreciate your neigh- bours who do not have money or food and what they go through and then we begin to have mercy and sympathy and empathise with people who are poor and we have the ability and courage to give when the need arises.
It is also a process that we should not -- In fact, it is recommended in Islam -- that we do not gaze at a woman who is not your wife. Now, when we look at a woman who is not your wife and we gaze at that person consistently, we have committed a sin. Now, in this month, the expectation is that, once we begin to inculcate this aspect in our lives, then we begin to abstain and the expectation is that, at the end of the month of Ramadan, we will continue with this.
It is also an opportunity for us to begin to purify ourselves, as the Hon Member has said, that health wise, it helps us -- we particularly, in these days, when most of us eat junk food. When we eat for a whole year and then we have a month that we use as a process of purifying ourselves, it cleanses us. Now, scientifically, it has been proved that those who engage in fasting for one month -- many people who indeed, suffer
some illnesses, after the month of Ramadan, they realise that they have some solutions to them. So, there are some scientific evidences proving that fasting is something that we must engage in.
It is also significant that this is the month that the Holy Quran was revealed and we are encouraged to recite it if you have the means to do so.
Mr Speaker, it is significant also to point out that it is not everybody who is enjoined to fast. The aged who indeed, cannot go without food for a number of hours are not supposed to engage in fasting. The aged who are not supposed to engage in fasting are exempt from fasting. The woman who is pregnant and if she engages in fasting, it will affect the pregnancy; so, she is, indeed, exempted from fasting.
A woman who has given birth and who needs breast milk to feed the baby, such a woman needs to be eating, such a woman cannot fast and is exempted from fasting.
But there are some of them who are exempted from fasting for a month and it is recommended that they pay back the fasting at the end of the month.
It is also significant to state that a married man or a woman, when fasting, should not get close to his wife or her husband in the process of fasting. But after they break the fast, they can do anything legitimately with the wife or husband till the time they take the suhur - that is the dawn meal. It is significant that people understand this.
I wish to state, in conclusion, that I support strongly the call that is made by the Hon Member -- encouraging groups who indeed, are engaged in terror, who indeed, are engaged in acts that can be described as barbarism, using religion,
most importantly and significantly, Islam, as a decoy to achieve their objectives that have no place in the religion of Islam.
It is significant for us to understand that Arabs constitute less than five per cent of Muslims globally and therefore, when they engage in something, it should not be conclusive that Muslims engage in A, B, C or D. It is important that when such attitudes are imbibed in this month, it would help us and bring sanity and peace in this world that is yearning for peace, tranquillity and harmony.
With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity.