Six days ago, the holy month of Ramadan graced Gambian lives. It is a month of blessing for every Muslim who fasts and invokes their maker throughout. Like the previous ones, this year’s Ramadan, too, is plagued with a lot of hardships for poor Muslims amid the hikes in basic food commodities. It has become customary that whenever the holy month approaches, businesses and business operators rather increase the prices of basic food stuff to grow their ventures, and line their pockets, than have a shred of empathy for the struggling Muslim families by selling to them at reasonable prices.
Unfortunately, many people have forgotten about the true meaning of Ramadan, which is not to amass wealth on the backs of underprivileged families or Gambians, or Muslims in general.
The great Muslim scholars said that the true meaning of Ramadan is to serve as a reminder of the pains of the underprivileged, the downtrodden and the bullied. It is for the inculcation of empathy that may no longer be in our hearts. It is a month of reflection and repentance.
Therefore, traders and other business operators in the country, most of whom call themselves Muslims, must be warned and reminded that they will account for all they have done in the name of trade and commerce. Muslim traders must be fearful of the day of judgement and not increase prices of basic food commodities simply because it is Ramadan.
Although The Gambia remains a free-market policy state, the government must act now to devise means or strategies and engage the business community to ease the burden of basic food commodities on our Muslim brothers and sisters. It is only the government that can act by perhaps deliberately reducing the prices of basic food commodities to ease the hardship being faced by Muslims in The Gambia. And until they do, Ramadan remains a profit-making venture for the trader, and a hardship for the underprivileged believer.
Let’s be compassionate. Let’s help each other. Let’s not hike prices or hoard goods. Let’s make Gambia a better country for all.