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Family, neighbours and Ramadan

July 17, 2014 - 5:01:00 am

We listen to the best stories from elders everyday and night, be they from within or outside the family. Elders tell stories about family bonds, the simplicity of life, the social spirit families used to experience, and foster the social bonds within families during this month. They also tell stories about the preparations families make as the holy month of Ramadan approaches and the unity and solidarity showed by family members and neighbours on the occasion.

Residential areas used to be limited and most families in these areas were limited earlier. This might explain the closeness that marked relations among these families, when it came to cultural relations, economic relations and also the nature of their day-to-day interactions and dealings.

Such treatment was always marked with simplicity and friendliness, even as family incomes used to be limited and whole families depended on one breadwinner. While these families suffered economically, they enjoyed sitting on one table to eat.

Family members, men and women used to get together without overburdening the family budget. These meetings always took place in the presence of family elders, including parents and grandparents, in a special spiritual, religious and social atmosphere. There were strong bonds among neighbours and the doors of homes were open almost all 

day long.

People exchanged visits in an atmosphere of unity and cooperation to celebrate all religious and social occasions.

In contrast, all the above practices have been done away with after our country experienced the current cultural and economic openness. 

People are being heard now only longing for “the past good days”. They also long for the kind people who used to live in 

these days.

Now, a materialistic technological culture controls every aspect of our lives, affecting all social traditions inside families. Individual incomes have risen, which at the end of the day affected all other aspects of social relations among brothers and neighbours. Money, as a language, can only be heard inside families in different forms throughout the day-to-day dealings.

Women now go out for work and have become financially independent. They have also reached leading positions, which at the end had its effect on families and society as a whole. An electronic culture has also swayed social practices of family members, putting each family member in his/her own separate world only with their electronic machines and gadgets, whether this is a mobile phone, iPad or any 

other tool. 

Human communication, social and intellectual bonds no longer exist among families. Most families are also independent from their extended families, especially from grandfathers and grandmothers who played an important role in teaching social values and positive behaviour to younger family members.

These elders were always keen on preserving social bonds inside the family and the social team through continuous daily contact. Every family member used to know the other well. This knowledge was based on social principles.

What we see today is against all social values and traditions that prevailed in our country before the current cultural and economic openness. 

Many of the values and beautiful meanings have disappeared from our families.

The members of the same family no longer communicate with each other now. 

They even meet elders at coffee shops.

Some of us have been living in certain districts for long. 

Even with this, few of us know our neighbours either to the left or to the right. 

This makes one worry about the future of the current and coming generations, given the importance of psychological and social communication within one family. 

This communication represents a real family protection for children and social values under the current cultural invasion. 

This invasion aims first and foremost to destroy the social bonds that used to make Arab countries exceptional.

We have hopes that family unity can still be preserved in harmony with the current practical and professional pressures. 

We also hope that the current generation will succeed in preserving the values maintained by elders that they tried to protect for years. 

We badly need to revive family get-together occasions, especially in the presence of elders, and exchanging family visits by all means. These visits bring the younger members of families close together, the residents of one district and neighbourhoods together.

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