THIRTY long days ago, Muslims around the world celebrated the start of a holy month. Ramadan was welcomed with much delight. Fans scheduled their sahur to coincide with football games played across Europe. Retailers looking to make big money selling Hari Raya cookies and clothes, lined the streets in Masjid India and cities across Malaysia, to usher in 'rezeki' (good fortune) brought forth by Ramadan. Despite much diversity within the same belief, Muslims all over the world rejoice in greeting the new moon.

Despite our best efforts and intentions, Ramadan 2016 left us, after 30 long days, with a bad taste in one's mouth. The holy month was desecrated with incidents that made me wonder, if the hunger and thirst were all in vain.

I woke up for sahur on the last day of Ramadan to the news of deadly attacks in Saudi Arabia. This attack, not far from where the teachings of Islam flourished under Prophet Muhammad SAW, hurt the feelings of Muslims who were looking forward to a peaceful start to Syawal. The attacks in Saudi Arabia were preceded by many tragic deaths in Baghdad, Dhaka, Istanbul and Orlando. This may just be the bloodiest Ramadan ever. We raced to condemn the attackers on social media, complete with emoticons. Denouncing claims that those attacks were carried out in the name of Islam. One of the relatives of the victims of the Istanbul attack wailed, "How can one kill during the holy month of Ramadan? How can one say God's name and then kill innocent people?"

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We used profanities during the holiest month, to express our anger and heartbreaks. We pray in unison, on social media, for cities around the world on a weekly, if not, daily basis.

One incident hit close to home, literally, and we prayed that no hashtag will be created for our cities during Syawal and in the months to follow. The attack in Puchong was a grim reminder that we were a part of the global war against those who kill in the name of Islam.

This Ramadan, the Internet, specifically the social media, became the soapbox for the sharing of many ideas and thoughts. From eating in public to vaccination and more recently, the destruction of a certain public installation. I believe that some discussions were good and productive, others were trivial, driven by emotions and baseless chatter. Many reputations were tarnished. Many will never get it back. Personal beliefs were made public and pushed down other people's throats. The public was not allowed to decide despite one's call for personal choices, democracy and the ability to practice one's belief freely.

United Kingdom will, after nearly 40 years of being in a post-WW II union, go back to a lonely existence. The 'perpetrators' or 'saviours' depending on which box you ticked, have all jumped ship. Unity is not cheap, and the separation is also very costly. US$3 trillion was wiped off the financial market in the two days following the result of the referendum.

What has this got to do with Ramadan, you ask? The first word from the Holy Qur'an that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad on the 17th Ramadan was 'Read'. Had the voters READ, many would not have made the mistake of leaving the European Union. We as a trading nation must also read carefully the terms and conditions as we seek to increase trade and be part of trading communities. People should also read the facts and figures before they make health related decisions for their kids.

Despite the atrocities, one must find relief in the many, many good deeds that were aptly publicised on social media. Everyday we read about people of different races, and religions too, lending a helping hand to help others. A certain community police in Puchong Utama caught the eyes and hearts or many netizens. Donations and goods poured into the homes of those in need, all thanks to his social media postings. The idea of doing good was contagious! And in no time at all, people went 'crazy' helping others. Time was given and spent wisely. I am still in awe of the kindness amidst the unpleasant negative noise on social media in this country. It goes to show that we Malaysian are created with good, kind hearts.

I believe that the last 30 days was the most challenging period in 2016, so far. We were confronted daily with the difficult decisions to choose sides and to fight for the greater good. Some days the decisions were very straight forward, others, complex. I urge people to think and to read more and to seek guidance from those who know.

My belief asks that I evaluate and ponder: Am I a better person now than I was 30 days before, have I learnt anything from Ramadan? What can I do better?

Holidays, both religious or non-religious ones, were created to bring people closer. It's that simple. It is during holidays like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas can one spend more time with one's brothers and sisters, families, friends and even strangers to share kindness and good food. We open our houses and places of worship, big or small, to people every year and we hope they leave feeling much better and enriched.

In a world where volatility and uncertainty are rampant, one looks closer to home to find stability in the form of kindness and love. One bids farewell to Ramadan 2016 and hopes for a better Syawal.

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.