I was no different.
At age 9, I wanted to fast.
Dad wouldn’t have it, though.
“Wait until you are older”, he said.
“Why the fast?”, I asked him.
He explained that the abstinence from sustenance from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadhan, it was hoped, would sensitise us to the daily lives of the poor, so that we would give of God’s bounty to significantly and substantively improve their lives.
As I grew, remembering Dad’s explanation, what I saw and experienced myself troubled me.
1999, aged 40, on the eve of Raya, I visited my Dad.
I asked if he remembered his instruction some 31 years ago on the purpose of the fast.
He did not.
I shared with him that all my growing years, I had been troubled by the feast at the time of the breaking of the fast and, worse, that during the raya festivities, we fed friends and family who could well afford to feed themselves, rather than the orphaned, the poor, the destitute, the forgotten.
I asked his forgiveness for any wrongs I had done him and apologised because I would not attend the family home anymore for the Raya festivities.
The figures are damning.
2-3 in every 5 persons in the world today live on US$1 a day.
I am away from Malaysia now, but with some of those who must, daily, try to make do on that US$1.
At home, both sides of the political divide, argue their case against a minimum wage of RM1,500, lest the effort to alleviate the lives of the poorest in the nation inconveniences the profitability of the small and medium scale industry players.
Long before Abe Lincoln managed to outlaw slavery in the US, the Holy Qur’an, in my view, evidences that the Holy Prophet was instructed to teach that in the way of life ordained by the Almighty, there was no room for injustice and inequality and that slaves were to be freed.
Today, globally, slavery thrives, in the guise of employment.
Maaf zahir dan batin.