Here comes the Islamic month of Ramadan. When Pakistan becomes all the more of a playground for the moral righteousness and religiosity which is but a farce, the people either deluded or forcing themselves to believe it to be otherwise. These are the days of make-believe merriment when those who do not fast are looked down upon. When all the entertainment talk show hosts you saw drinking behind the scenes, cover up their heads with chaddors and stoles and end up preaching orthodoxy, the same brand of wine which itches the genitalia of womankind in this society of patriarchs. As of right now, twitter’s second highest trend is #MuhammadPBUHSaid but no trend makes it to the top when Bahalwapur blasphemy incident occurs.
The problem of course is not with their religiosity, or the lack of, but the blatant hypocrisy looking Pakistanis in the eyes and them not realizing it. It might well be the case all over the Muslim world (on August 2, yesterday,the Palestinian Authority arrested six men across the West Bank this week for publicly breaking the fast of Ramadan and desecrating the “desecrating the holiness of the month of Ramadan”, possibly earning them a month law prison sentence under the law). Nevertheless you would be considered a silly for expecting anything less in Pakistan, a country whose generation is brought up on the notions which forms the premises of Ehteram-E-Ramazan Ordinance which prohibits smoking,eating,and drinking in public place during the holy month. Also cinemas and theaters are to be closed til the expiration of three hours after sunset. Not following the rules can result in three months in prison and a possible fine. The logic used is the same one we have inculcated in our psyches: temptation. Because she dressed ‘immodestly’ and tempted my manhood I,not being in control of my senses raped her. Because he was drinking in front of me, temptation got the best of me. And so why should it not be applied by those guilty of unlawful activities on smaller scale : Because you are eating in front of me, and I am on a fast, by my own accord, you are tempting me to break it. Therefore I will ban your eating, drinking, even smoking.
But then why fast in the first place? Yes, because the fear of entering the hell or seeking the wrath or displeasure of your deity got into you. But many others did not fast today. Maybe you shall wish you spare them the agony of hunger pangs and thirst? Pakistan may be having a great majority of Muslims but it also constitutes of religious and non-religious minorities along with those Muslims who might not fast. They are left hanging because they did not go out burning and damaging stuff demanding sanity, like Muslim hooligans would,were the Ehteram-E-Ramzan Ordinance to be even amended tomorrow, leave alone struck off.
The Ordinance is the gift from Pakistan’s own version of General Francisco Franco, General Zia-Ul-Haq who was both deluded in his religiously motivated moral righteousness and conniving enough to use it as a populist element. To date sane Pakistanis cuss the General. Men and women are suffering either directly or indirectly from his rule and ideas. Nevertheless like other laws and Ordinances Ehteram-E-Ramzan Ordinance stays intact, thus preserving the fundamentals of his fundamentalism. The repercussions follow. Those who not fast are dragged into almost a state of one.It seems almost every year there are reports of arrests being made for eating in public and of restaurants being closed down for serving during the time of the fast. Not to those who are fasting. But who are not. Why should they suffer as well? This year two were arrested. A further two were not only arrested but beaten up by the policemen for arguing in their defense, that they were eating in a place where no one could see them and that it is not their business. How dare they?! It is there business as per the crooked laws of this country. How dare they try to snatch away this golden opportunity for earning some divine blessings right out of their hands?
That is,then, correct. Impose the righteousness on others so you could earn a nod from your deity. Such a selfish deed it is, yet in the name of guarding the other members of the society, and their temptations and sensibilities.
If they are not fasting, then we shall not let them eat or drink in public even if they are darn hungry!
But does that not defy the very purpose of the ritual in the first place?
A bus nearly full of working class men heading to another city for an important protest, with some of them not fasting. And how I was amazed at the fact that not only plates of rice were being handed out to those not fasting, but how fine those on fast seemed to be with it. The man sitting beside me did not raise his eye brow. I am sure he must have been feeling hungry as well. But he refrained from both, breaking the fast and lecturing me to guilt about the sanctity of the holy month. That is how Ramadan should be celebrated, especially if,as the conventional explanation goes, the purpose is to make Muslims evermore patient and determined in their character.
That is the patience and steadfastness Muslims need to inculcate, speculating on their inner being, than going out and about moral policing. Muslims need to learn that it is not their business whether others are fasting or not.And that there is nothing selfless about it but quite a selfish and superficial mindset they need to get rid of. So spare the act and hope your fast is enough to make you a better Muslim rather than superficiality and moral policing. Perhaps then we would not have incidents like Indonesian bar attack where one fifty young people -some as young as thirteen entered De Most bar to create havoc and bring down the house. Perhaps then we would learn to be both better Muslims and better human beings.