Month of Enlightening

By Shabna Cader
It is that time of the year again; the time for joy, renewing of faith and strengthening the closeness with God. Muslims around the world are preparing for Ramadan, the month of fasting, devoted to prayer and subjugation. And a month; that sheds light on the suffering of the poor and leaves its mark on every Islamic believer and follower.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2:183)
What is its significance? Why do Muslims ‘fast’ every year? Why is it a period of 30-31 days? Many questions and the answers are always the same – Ramadan’s significance lies in Islamic history. It takes Muslims back to the time when Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) would fast for weeks without notice; he would stay away from worldly good, meditate for hours, and offer his mind, heart and soul in prayer and supplication.
Allah says: “And when My servants ask you (O Prophet) about Me, surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should hear My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” (The Holy Qur’an 2:186)

Although many believe that Ramadan is only and all about staying away from food and drink, this is not so; Ramadan is about new faith, the birth of a new being and servant to God. In this month, Muslims not only refrain from eating and drinking, but also reflect on their blessings, give thanks to God, seek and receive forgiveness for their shortcomings and mistakes and practice self-restraint. Fasting is also a compulsory act to all Muslims from the age of seven, also known as the age of reasoning and therefore it is their obligation to ‘fast’ during Ramadan. There is also the false notion that ‘fasting’ is a hardship and difficult period for Muslims but this is incorrect; Ramadan is a time of cleansing and spiritual enlightenment. It is known as the month of the Qur’an as the first verses were delivered during this very period.
“And swallow not up your property among yourselves by false means, nor seek to gain access thereby to the authorities so that you may swallow up other people’s property wrongfully while you know.” (The Holy Qur’an 2:188)

Every good deed and act performed is a virtuous one, even charity. Every compulsory act that is performed is multiplied in goodness, and as a reward; every obligatory act performed is accepted as a compulsory act and rewarded as well. No good deed or act goes unseen or unrewarded. As a time of refraining from the worldly goodness in life, Ramadan also brings about a great deal of kindness, patience and understanding. Whilst some abstain from anger, pettiness and frivolity others might also take a step away from hours of shopping, watching movies and television and listening to music, bringing about a sense of self-sufficiency, honestly comfort in faith alone.

“He who does not give up uttering falsehood and acting according to it, God has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” (Prophet Muhammad – PBUH))
Although the hours of ‘fasting’ are long (from sunrise to sunset), that does not mean a Muslim can spend hours sleeping and refraining from performing his or her daily duties and obligations. There is nothing wrong with taking short naps but the hours during the day are supposed, to also be spent in prayer and supplication, doing beneficial activities. Nights can also be spent in prayer; congregational prayers (Taraweeh) are held in mosques and Islamic institution throughout the month of Ramadan. But this can also be performed individually in homes as well. Taraweeh prayers are obligatory and not compulsory.
Those travelling long distances, pregnant, in childbirth, having their monthly periods or ill are able to refrain from ‘fasting’. In most Muslim cities and countries, this month becomes a mini celebration, a time to get together with family and other relatives during the evening and break their ‘fast’, attend prayers at the mosque or homes and then wake up for the morning meal. In countries like Saudi Arabia, work hours are cut short in order to spend their time in prayer. Hunger does not become an issue when a Muslim’s intention is to fast not with their stomachs but with their hearts.

Ramadan this year will begin on August 1 and will continue for 30 or 31 days. Although Ramadan is on the same day as noted in the Islamic Calendar, the days in total are 11 shorter than the modern calendar and hence it is brought forward every year. This is due to the fact that the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, different to the solar calendar. The date of Ramadan varies from country to country depending on the sighting of the moon.


Dr. Pramilla Senanayake

For the love of children

By Sarasi Paranamanna
Her passion is charity and her pride is to be part of charity. Starting from helping children, to helping HIV positive patients her whole life is now dedicated to the disadvantaged. “I gave up my professional practice as a doctor and I have
Going on its 27th year, Dr. Pramilla Senanayake’s charity organization set up to help children in Kalutara areas have now blossomed into a fruitful project which has become safe haven for children. “Educate a Child Trust” (EACT) had been established in 1984. Dr. Senanayake had been working as the assistant director general of the Planned Parental Federation being involved in preventing HIV/ AIDS she had been concerned about the paedophilic activities in the coastal areas. One day when she and her son met two boys at the beach who were about 10 years old back then she had realised that these children were not attending school because of their inability to meet expenses. She had spoken to the parents and had bought all necessitates for them to go to school. “I always think that it is a blessing to be able to support someone who is in need” she quipped enthusiastically.
What we started from a one time donation has now evolved into a trust which supports 850 children with all necessities to attend school and receive a good education. By 2004 Dr. Senanayake had almost single- handed given school supplies for more than 800 children. In addition the trust had also supported parents of the children to improve their livelihoods. After the 2004 tsunami disaster EACT had built 48 houses for the children who lost their homes because of the tragedy. She had purchased three acres of land to build the cosy beautiful houses using her own funds; and today at Dediyawela the houses stand amidst the happy smiles of the people who would have been otherwise homeless and destitute.
At present the facilities offered for EACT supported children have expanded. Access to English education and IT facilities have been acquired to keep the children on par with current education requirements. The children are also given the lunch time meal when they attend the IT and English tutorials. In addition children in their adolescence are given lessons on health education to increase awareness of sexual and reproductive health.

Speaking about managing the trust Dr. Senanayake noted that it costs more than half a million per month to provide all the supplies and facilities maintaining minimum overheads.
Dr. Senanayake is inviting everyone who has charitable and philanthropic interests to join hands with her to further funding EACT. Generous donors are invited to a fundraising event which will be held at Cinnamon Grand Hotel on August 3, 2011. As this will be an exclusive event for interested parties, donors who are interested to support this worthy cause can obtain invitations by emailing Dr. Senanayake via – psen13@gmail.com. The fund raising event will be a pleasant evening with entertainment and donors can donate starting from Rs. 100,000 by getting a Silver card. All the donations will be invested to maintain the trust and to support children of EACT.


They wagged, winked, flirted and minced away at Odel…

That’s exactly what went down in the Atrium Lobby of Odel’s Flagship Store, Alexandra Place very recently.
This positively ‘gala’ event was put on the boards to celebrate some pretty big happenings at Odel and as always there was no shortage of pop-art colour, exclusive fashionista glamour and cute pooch passion!
For all the guys out there who’d always pictured themselves, swinging a mallet astride a big white stallion, while galloping along Galle Road looking sporty…? Well, they got their shot.
The international sports icon US Polo launched its collection, placed the popular brand on the shelves of Sri Lanka’s favourite store and invited all the hunky, sporty looking guys to don one of the USA’s most popular brands and be a part of the action that has truly represented the spirit of American style for more than a century.
“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine…” and the lovely ladies of summer were certainly not left out, with the Odel Ladies Section taking on a brand new look. Not just a ‘bright and airy’ look but with spanking new, summery looking fashion on the shelves plus the Summer Breeze theme with a matching store décor of colourful kites, pin wheels and those zoomy rockets that bring back so many memories.
All together a sunny and unique shopping experience that was positively lapped up by those summer belles!
Of course Niko, the mischievous street pooch, whose ‘adopted’ founder and CEO of Odel, Otara Gunawardene, was not to be left out and hit the sidewalk with his new ‘Niko the Flirt” collection, which was unveiled in his ‘also’ newly extended Embark home.
The sparkling fashion show which more than climaxed the event, had just the right genre of throbbing music, scintillating lighting and a really great model line-up, ( cute kids included) who very professionally cat-walked the “Niko the Flirt” collection which incidentally featured an expanded kids and toddlers range along with a smart range of accessories for the die-hard Embark fans.
The US Polo Collection presented was also sporty, yet classy and then timely combined with a selection of summery, but seductive ladies wear.
No doubt a brilliant time was had by all, but as more aptly put by a visitor and avid Odel customer “Awesome!!…super fashion show, lotsa flirting, great clothes as usual. Can’t wait for the next event!!”