Why Force Minorities To Suffer in Ramazan? By Saadia Haq


Once again, the holy month of Ramazan came back with all its glory and majority Pakistani Muslims went into full throttle hypocrite mode.
Oh yeah, we are such a double-faced nation – speaking volumes by our national behavior depicted on television, social media and general public atmosphere. One of the most blatant obscenities that make me cringe is the ongoing ridiculous transmissions with beard sporting and dupatta clad celebrities talking Allah, Islam, Halal and Ramazan all while these are the same people busy in other activities all year round.
But this is Pakistan, the so called Land of the Pure whose nation has forgotten its history and lives in denial of its catastrophic failures of the present. During the holy month, we have strange laws working such as the Ethram e Ramazan forbidding and penalizing eating smoking and drinking in public spaces before sunset, in reverence of Islam.
Certainly, majority illiterate Pakistanis have no proper understanding of Islam and the core essence of fasting month, Ramazan. The general perception promoted by religious zealots only focuses on the assumption that all Pakistanis observe fasting and sillier anyone who eats or drinks in front of a pious faster is committing a sin. What a narrow-minded understanding of a religion, that needs not any defence from mere sinners such as ourselves or other Muslims.
I know for a fact that such discriminatory laws are also operational in many other Islamic countries. Islam is a religion encompassing all practicalities of life on earth, for all - Muslims, followers of other faiths, and non-believers alike.
Pakistan and most of these countries also have large number of minorities that are deliberately neglected by enforcement of such laws as part of religious policing.
As a Muslim who by the way is fasting as I write this story, am outraged and frustrated to bear witness the majority faith fellows conveniently ignoring the pitfalls of such laws on our minority brethren. Why do people of other faiths have to suffer just because Muslims are fasting?
Why make thousands of labourers, small farmers, factory workers and others go hungry and thirsty during day hours in name of Islam? Why do-little children and adolescents bear the brunt of our misdoings?
This is certainly not the Islam I follow nor understand at any logical level. These narratives and law is not only hypocritical and prejudiced on both societal and constitutional level. On one level, Pakistan makes tall claims of parity and guaranteeing the equal rights of its religious minorities through the constitution, all while depriving them of their right to food and drink when its not their religious duty to fast during Ramadan.
Furthermore, educational institutions and vocational centres also follow these rules strictly which results in non-Muslim students and employees to go hungry during day hours, because the canteen and food mess are closed for Ramazan.
And this law also does not take into consideration those exempted from fasting like young children, travelers, sick people unable to fast and menstruating women. These segments too have to suffer as they aren't allowed to purchase food or eat at their desks in office hours or other public spaces.
Most Muslims have weak faiths that make them imagine everything has to be changed in order for them to carry out their religious obligations. But to all such people I have only one advise, if your fast is that vulnerable and weak that you will waver at the first glimpse of someone eating in front of you its time to self-reflect and relearn what fasting really means in Islam. And while you are at it, please also stop ignoring the religious teachings that tell us that Ramadan and fasting teaches nonviolence, tolerance and self-control over one's desires. All the ruckus created by pseudo- devotional Muslims is certainly not Islam but personal acts that require corrections.
Indeed, the true believers never creates a fuss over someone eating in front of them. If you are incapable of fasting the right way please do not take it out on others and get State laws bordering on religious dictations. And where does the inspiration come from, for laws like Ethram-e-Ramazan – our inferiority complex fixated to becoming 'Arabized' and follow hard-liner understanding of a religion whose start, middle and end is just MERCY.
“My Mercy Embraces All Things.” Quran 7:156
It is time to stop misusing the religion card and distorting teachings to discriminate against minorities in our homeland. There is nowhere any evidence in the Quran or authentic Hadith that prescribes the State to bind all its citizens to fast and forbid its citizens from eating or drinking during Holy Month of Ramadan.
To all the hater mongers, kindly refrain from your convenient anger and be reminded that there is no compulsion in religion, so why force adults to do things in the name of religion.
Let’s be realistic and join the 21st century please.

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