MUSLIMS all over the world celebrate the holy month of Ramazan every year; they try to be patient throughout the 30 days (sometimes 29, depending on the moon sighting) and be civil to each other as per the teachings of Islam. In particular, during this month we see people going out of their way to feed the less fortunate and those caught on the roads come Iftar time. And that’s where Karachi wins head over heels against other cities.
You may be late in reaching home for Iftar during the holy month but Karachiites never shy away from their responsibility of ensuring that you break your fast on time. Even when the law and order situation was testy a few years back, you could find youngsters on the main road carrying bundles of snacks and juices, distributing them without asking about sect or religion. Now if you are stranded on the main roads of the city, you will find kids handing out refreshments — be it even a date, a samosa and a juice packet — which is a huge thing when you need something to break your fast.
That passion has now been taken to the next level, especially at a time when poverty has increased manifold. Now you can break your fast without even paying for it, any day during the holy month. One of the leading non-governmental organisations in Karachi is feeding more than 600 people at Iftar time in the metropolis on a daily basis and their effort has now been recognised internationally thanks to the social media and TV channels. At Sehri time, they feed 250 people at an average which is a huge number considering none of them is asked to pay a rupee for the food.
If you go to the Numaish area where this lavish free buffet is served, you will find that no matter which religion you belong to — Hindu, Muslim, or Christian — no one asks you about your identity. This is the kind of harmony the founding fathers of Pakistan dreamt of and thankfully, the holy month of Ramazan offers them just that. At a time when the rich have their eyes on the many buffet deals in the market, the poor now have an outlet where they can go and break their fast without worrying about any kind of payment. They can get the stuff packed as well for later consumption and one hopes that the system continues for the next 11 months as it makes your belief in humanity, stronger.
This is just one of the many places that offer a reprieve for those who can’t afford to break their fast or even have a decent meal. People with the means make sure that the needy are served rightly in this holy month and that’s why you see dastarkhwans at regular distances all over the city. There are a few individuals who prefer paying the many NGOs to serve those in need while many small-scale restaurants ensure that food is distributed to those who can’t afford it, especially during these 30 days. When you think of others, when you help in breaking people’s fast instead of worrying about your own and when you outshine other cities through your collective efforts, that’s when things look to be heading in the right direction.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018