Article in brief: the author faces a dilemma, should she stick to her long-time opinion against the commercialization of Ramadan or should she jump on that bandwagon?
Recently I found myself at an existential crisis, if we can call it that.
For years I’ve often looked, with disdain, at how companies take advantage of Ramadan. Special deals for the Holy Month are advertised profusely through social media, billboards, streetlamps, television, radio, and print commercials and the main topic of this advertisement is, ironically, food. Without a second thought, many of us sadly will think of “food” among the top three mental prompts when the word “Ramadan” is heard.
The month of worship, simplicity, and genuineness is seemingly reduced to a month of sitting at a lavish dining table filled with an abundance of all sorts of delicious treats, most of which will go uneaten and into the trash. Ramadan, as we all know, is so much more than that (and it would take me another two articles to extol its benefits).
I don’t agree with the brash commercialization of Ramadan but now, as a business owner (and of one that deals with food), I am faced with a dilemma. Should I not create promotions and special deals for the month and potentially lose out on a lot of revenue? Or should I jump on the bandwagon of commercialization with a guilty conscience?
It was a hard call to make. I ended up with jumping on the bandwagon, and here’s my reasoning.
Firstly, I think if I’m not going to do it, someone else will. Me not taking part in the commercialization aspect of Ramadan will not impact the public’s immense demand in any way. Whether you like it or not, the demand is there and whether that’s fuelled by the commercialization or whether the extensive advertising campaigns are just capitalizing on that demand is a chicken and egg situation.
That leads me to the second point: which is demand. There is a demand for what I’m providing (namely sweets). In recent years we’ve seen Ramadan become even more of a social month; gatherings have increased at an exponential rate and have turned into social events.
Thirdly, Ramadan is a month of worship and simplicity but it is also a month where all the unnecessary superficial complications of life take a back seat. Things begin to slow down, and we meet relatives and friends more often than we do throughout the other eleven months of the year. What I am providing is simply a condiment to those gatherings which don’t happen that often during the rest of the year.
And lastly, I think that whatever you do, be it your actions in Ramadan or anything else, balance is key. We are all mature adults with the capacity to reason and we should all have the skill of balancing our priorities and giving each thing its due.
So, if we are confident in our spiritual actions during the month, if we know that we are not falling back on our prayers, or on getting closer to God then we should sit back at the end of the day and enjoy that slice of cake with our friends because that in itself is an act of care.
Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.