Mushaira-e-Iftaar

Today is the fourteenth consecutive day we’ve been fasting during the day, and will continue to fast for the next 15 or 16 days, depending upon moon-sighting. During the holy month of Ramazan friends and relative invite each other for Iftaar (breaking of fast) dinner.

Yesterday I started a thread on email with a few verses, and my friends gave an overwhelming response likewise. This is how it went like.

{ English}

Me:
O’ my brothers the great
Long time since we’ve all met

Why don’t you invite for Aftaar
Let the venue be near or let it be far!

Sharoon:
You owe us a b’day treat so let it be aftaar,
Do it quickly bro as the eid is not so far

Me:
Ye Eid is near ‘n’ lots o expenses are in line
You must invite us and be our Valentine!!! 🙂

Umar:
In ramzan ..there is no room for wine and dine
Go to langar of Abdullah Shah Ghazi and stand in line

Me:
Anyone from our group should invite
Aftar may be heavy or it may be light…

{ Urdu}

Rehan:
Rasm-e-dunya bhi hay, moqa bhi hay aur ooper sey hey Ramazan
Mil k dey dein Iftaar-dinner, Agha, Azhar aur Umar Khan!

Me:
But, ramzan me b tum log kya kam girte ho
Aftar ko aftar nhi, valima samajhtay ho…

Umar:
Jaib k haalat buhut hain kharab
Kabhi hamain khilao naan shah faisal k kabab

Rehan:
after eid, alag sey dey ga toh phatt jaye gee
mil k dey dou abhi, jaib aur izzat, bach jaye gee

Umar:
Jazbaat o ahsaasaat ko kaarobaar bana baithay ho
Gift daitay nahi party ki batain kartay ho

Sharoon:
Wo Dost tha magar uski achi Kamai na thi,
K Soup, bottle, Chai usne kabi Pilai na thi

Umar:
Baby aur teekoo ki buhut bari kamaaee thee
Q K unkay saath peer ki dua aur rehnumaaee thee

Espirit de Ramazan

The holy month of Ramazan is around the corner. We have been awaiting this month eagerly (perhaps); we do that every year. This month signifies the cleansing of the soul [of bad habits], attaining spiritual strength and eating/drinking less than the normal. However, we are determined every Ramazan to defeat the noble purposes of fasting. In this month, the attendance in the mosques does increase, but compassion, patience, simplicity and peace still remain alien to the society at large. Among other things, traffic jams become order of the day because all the ‘rozedaar’ people try to rush to their homes blindly without caring about traffic signals. The consumption of foods increases manifold creating tremendous pressure on the market and pushing the prices up. Penny pinchers find good opportunity in making money by storing food items months before Ramazan, which they sell them on very high prices during the holy month. Come Christmas, there are huge discounts. Come Ramazan, and there are record-breaking price hikes. Hoarding and profiteering starts running down our veins at much faster pace during the month.

People eat the stuff in this month which they normally avoid for health reasons. I overhear some priests telling us that the more we eat the more rewards a fasting person earns. It’s very rewarding to serve Iftar to as many people as one can afford, but serving too many dishes and drinks and desserts to oneself is quite contrary to the chi of fasting. But it is even far more better to serve Iftar to people living under straitened circumstances than well-off friends and relatives. We are an Ummah who believe more in overt rituals and less in the spirit of the religious practices. A simple Iftar dinner will include dates, samosas, pakoras, chatni, ketchup, dahi baray, chaat, all the seasonal fruits available, soft drinks, parathas, simple chawal, briyani, qorma, karahai, koftay, mutton, few vegetable dishes, fish, and lastly desserts. I’m afraid to have missed few. I wonder why we forget about the simple way of life as ardently preached by Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] whom we proudly hold as our paragon! The eating habits of the prophet are well known to us all, but we still tend to forget.

Yes, everything is created for humans, and we have the right to eat and drink as much as we want if we can afford, but resources belong to the society. Habit of increase in eating completely neglects the main idea behind fasting as Quran says: “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness” (al-Baqarah:183). Piety & righteousness are hard to find.

Besides eating fiesta, the whole month turns out to be more a raree-show. To captivate audiences at home for Iftar, TV programmers roll out the year’s biggest shows. Commercial propaganda become more successful, one company promotes a children’s art competition to benefit orphans, while another rewards the winners of its Ramazan prize draw with a trip to Mecca for Umrah. Quick to get in on the act, a dozen of religious channels run a phone-in and SMS quiz shows that dispense lesser prizes of cash and grand prize of tours to the holy sites.

After Ramazan, for most of us the chief hope is that prices, which soared during Ramazan, will drop back to normal. Others may relish more their sudden freedom from being relentlessly prodded to spend and consume.

Live to eat… Not.