KARACHI: The philanthropic spirit of the Pakistani nation is unquestionable. But Karachiites may have a slight edge, if not a big one, on the rest of their countrymen — perhaps because Karachi is demographically the largest city of Pakistan. The kind of generous acts and philanthropic deeds that one gets to witness on a yearly basis — free food served on the streets for the underprivileged, money given to charitable organisations, etc, — is astounding. This whole exercise becomes wonderfully noticeable during the holy month of Ramazan. The month itself teaches us to practise self-control and awaken in us the spirit of giving.

Interestingly, philanthropy is associated with the affluent classes. What’s remarkable about Karachi is that in holy month, people belonging to the middle and lower middle-class segments of society, too, step forward to look after those who fast. How? Well, this can be seen on and around most of the major thoroughfares of the city.

A good example would be Sharea Faisal. These days, the Iftar time is around 7pm. If you happen to be on Sharea Faisal around that time, and you are fasting, you are in your car or riding a motorbike trying to reach somewhere, and azaan (call to prayer) is heard, you will see young men — on both sides of the road — lifting a pitcher of water in one hand and a banana/date in the other, suggesting if you want to break your fast, ‘you can stop your vehicle and have the Iftar right here’. Pedestrians are treated no differently. Isn’t this lovely!

This is common Ramazan practice in Karachi, by the way. The same can be seen at Teen Talwar, I. I. Chundrigar Road and some stretches of roads in Gulishan-i-Iqbal.

Come to think of it, given the volatile political situation in the country that has turned us into a sharply polarised society, how beautiful it would be if this gentle spirit lasted the whole year, extracting the best out of us.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2022

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