It is to be noted that the month of Ramadan is a time in which Muslims gather and are much more united both spiritually and physically. Fasting promotes the spirit of unity and belonging within the Muslim Ummah. Millions of Muslims all over the world fast during the same month following the same rules and observances. At the same time, Ramadan aims at teaching Muslims to feel the suffering of others, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Fasting promotes the spirit of charity and sympathy toward the poor, needy, and oppressed who are suffering. One of the marvellous aspects of fasting is that it makes the rich live and experience the pains and misery of the poor. One has to abstain from food and drink in order to feel in one’s body what the poor and hungry feel. Thus, social responsibility is impressed in human consciousness as a religious requirement.

If this is one of the objectives of fasting, then it is the duty of Muslims, not only in Ramadan but during the whole year, to feel the suffering of their brothers and sisters who are oppressed all over the world and to extend a helping hand to them using all possible means to alleviate their hardship.

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states the following: I agree with you that Muslims are obligated to do everything possible to remove hardships and avert calamities from their fellow Muslims and human beings. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever alleviates the suffering of his fellow Muslim, Allah will alleviate his suffering on the Day of Judgment.”

Islam, while enjoining on us to remove hardship and defend ourselves, reminds us to use wisdom and proper methodology while doing so. In other words, Muslims cannot embark on strategies or methods that are suicidal.

The best and most effective way of defending ourselves is by establishing our presence in our countries and standing up for our rights as respected citizens using the available democratic and constitutional means at our disposal. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “No intelligence is greater than planning.”

Allah also says: (Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and dialogue with them in the most gracious manner, for your Lord knows who is astray and who is rightly guided.)(An-Nahl 16: 125)

Thus, for Muslims who live in democratic countries, one way to help our oppressed brothers and sisters in other countries is to use every constitutional means to have their voices heard to oppose aggression against Muslims and suppression of their rights. And whenever possible, Muslims should give charity to alleviate the sufferings of other Muslims.