By Syed Foaad Hassan
When Religion is mixed with personal traditions and cultures then it make things wrong, No religion teaches Hatred, We cannot impose Religion or Morality as “Swords can win territories but not hearts, Force can bend heads but not minds”.
Holy month of Ramadan is a blessing for all of us and true essence of fasting is obedience to God, patience and tolerance but here in Islamic Republic of Pakistan we sometimes forget about patience and tolerance and cannot even stand a person who is not in best of his health or on some medication so he has to take some food or water and start putting our favorite Pakistani labels of “Kaafir” (infidel) on him. If God allows a person to abstain from fasting who is not properly healthy or travelling then how can we force him to do so? Our previous leader Mr. Zia ul Haq also took Religion into his own hands and imposed Ehtaraam e Ramadan ordinance of 1981 but according to Quran: [2:184] O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous. [2:185] The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation — the feeding of a poor man. And whoso performs a good work with willing obedience, it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew.
There is lot more from teachings of Holy Prophet PBUH in which he explained the same.
Here in our country some organizations and companies impose some rules and off course in those companies all employees are not Muslims as recently one of my colleague who is Christian discussed this issue with me and I was unable to help him inside, it is not only the people who are extremists but CEOs and GMs who simply say while taking a sip of coffee “We cannot allow anyone to or drink” and they blame whole staff that they are extremists, maybe they are not but the one who is making policies is extremist. So if you are not Muslim, I am sorry you cannot do anything as they will simply say “just go out and eat something” and what makes you think you will comeback safe? after imposition of Ehtaram e Ramadan ordinance of Zia ul Haq.
I missed some due to health related issue and couple of my other colleagues were also sick and we discussed with GM HR and CEO but all in vain so now we have come to this level that on organizational level you cannot eat or drink even if you are sick and belong to any other Religion. I am not talking about a small company here; it’s one of the biggest textile companies of Faisalabad and Lahore “Kamal Textiles (So Kamal)”. Maybe it is my first experience of working in an organization like this one as I have moistly worked in media houses, agencies or newsrooms so I might be over reacting but the point is now if someone tells me, drinking water is not allowed in my company during fasting hours even if someone is sick I will believe him, before personal experience I thought people make stories, how they can stop at organizational level.
Fasting is virtue and a blessing from God and the one who cannot make it due to illness already feels bad but we make him/her miserable by declaring him infidel and making life more difficult for him especially during a month when we must help each other, tolerate and become more patient. If one cannot tolerate anyone taking a pill with a glass of water then what kind of patient and tolerance he is showing? As Quran says “There is no Compulsion in Religion” so who are we to decide for others. Fasting is anyone’s personal matter and it is between him and God, recently my friend and Kashif Chaudhry has enlightened us in detail on CNN and a blog, we can learn from heatwave in Karachi, how it killed people and most of them died due to dehydration so we have to focus on tolerance and patience and try to raise our voice against those who have taken Religion in their own hands and try to impose it, by making unjust rules and laws. Culture of hatred in society caused all this mess, if we don’t like anyone or any act and if we think that it is wrong in religion then we always try to impose our interpreted religion on others, we always hate those people who disagree with us and who have different point of view and then we teach hatred to our children and then the cycle moves on and generations come out which hate those people who have different thoughts and point of views, we never teach our youngsters to compromise and accept opposite views, we impose our interpretation on others and this thing is spoiling our society and people don’t accept anything about which they are brain washed by specific clerics. We should welcome opposite viewpoints and should have discussions and peaceful negotiations without declaring anyone “Kaafir” and miscreant and without teaching our children to hate him/her or to hate a specific group. “Swords can win territories but not hearts, Force can bend heads but not minds”
By Syed Foaad Hassan, Writer is a Lahore based Journalist, Consultant Publicist and Advertiser, Bureau Head Lahore for Weekly Education Informer and tweets @foaadhassan