By Zafar Sultan.
The month of Ramadan has set in, harbingering heavenly bounties and blessings. Verily, this is a month which offers promises to the faithfuls to attain Allah’s pleasure and prize: heaven. To reap the blessings of Ramadan, Muslims across the globe, strive in their own capacities. Do our actions and activities during this month of blessings really reflect the true teachings and spirit of Ramadan requires from us?
A cursory look at flurry of activities which we witness in our society soon at the outset of Ramadan, paints rather a dismal picture. Sadly, prices of the commodities; dates, yogurt, fruits, pakoras, samosas etc, really shoot up, for the sellers exactly know the temporal significance of these items. Moreover, the quality of these products is also compromised, notwithstanding the fact there are clear injunctions of the prophet of Allah as regards the mixture of substandard ingredients.
It seems apropos to mention here that during Hindu Raj (according to our forefathers), the prices of items of daily use would be cut down considerably to facilitate the faithfuls perform their fast. “The Hindu lords would also give some additional quantity of a particular item like sugar to us: Muslims, during Ramadan,” recalls baba Allah Ditta, the owner of a small bodega at the corner of our street. Allah Ditta laments the loss of tenants of honesty, and generosity which are fast waning in our society.
Similarly, Islam discourages pompous show of ostentatiousness and extravagance. Keeping this in view, the cult and convention of plushy aftar parties at grand restaurants is also far away from the spirit of Ramadan. As a matter of routine, other people reciprocate by inviting their friends and relatives to enjoy an array of scrumptious food items. It is seldom a scene of aftari, being at such a place where there is a maddening display of wealth and wear. Few minutes before the much awaited call to prayer, some ‘naats’ reverberate. With the call to break the fast (afratri) ,there is rather inglorious race to pile up the plates with spicy items. All lessons of moderateness seem to become irrelevant at this occasion. After half an hour of aftari, music starts echoing through the halls and yards of restaurants, and the faithfuls resume their chats and chattering.
At these aftaris, colossal amount of food items goes to drains. Paradoxically, millions in Pakistan live on one meal a day. Keeping in mind the real spirit of Ramadan, such splashy and exorbitant display of dining should be curtailed and those have-nots (Muslim brothers should be ignored). Can we heed these thoughts? Sounds primitive?
While no one has a right to be poke into anyone’s faith and fasting; it is alarming to see people flagrantly flaunting the spirit of Ramadan by openly drinking, smoking and eating in front of others at public places. Sadly, this trend is more prominent in our youth. Being in Islamic state of Pakistan and a Muslim, it really is a heart wrenching phenomenon. The reasons for this indifferent attitude can be many but the parents, institutions and preachers ought to contribute to guide and groom the masses, especially our youth as regards the sanctity of Ramadan. “The family and children of kafirs (non believers) would never eat before us (Muslims),” remarked Allah Ditta, scratching his grey beard.
Naturally, at the end of Ramadan, Eid ensures enormous pleasures, so reasonable preparation and purchase ought to be arranged to solemnize it, for it also signifies a sense of accomplishment that one has earned the maximum blessings of Ramadan. Nevertheless, unfortunately, an unwise flow of purchasers start pushing to shopping during Ramadan. In certain cases, economics are pushed to limit for the purchase of branded clothing and cosmetics. Especially, last couple of days of Ramadan, our markets are crowded with families. Every year, so many incidents of misbehaviour with ladies are reported. This menace can easily be managed by doing shopping either before Ramadan or not keep on procrastinating it till last days. Without doubt; it is not in line with the message Ramadan.
We are lucky to have Ramadan. It is a requisite that we (Muslims) do a thorough soul-searching and revisit our approach and actions during Ramadan so as to reap its blessings to the fullest. Let’s resolve to be the respecter, not ridiculer of Ramadan.
The writer is an academic based in Islamabad and maybe approached at: firstname.lastname@example.org