For the first time in my life, I got an opportunity to spend Ramadan outside my home country, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest month. Ranging from 29-30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon, Muslims fast -- abstaining from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset.
Ramadan is not only about refraining oneself from eating and drinking, but it trains to keep a Muslim individual how to stay morally and spiritually strong by staying away from all ills. Recitation of the holy book of Islam, the Quran is done extensively, along with special prayers, Taraweeh are offered in mosques and homes.
The mantra of an "Islamic" state of Pakistan is continuously blared on every other media one comes across. But, is real Islam being practiced?
In the United Arab Emirates, where I spent about 10 rozas (fasts), the scenario was blatantly different. Both Islamic states, but the discrepancy I felt during my stay was humongous! That made me realize how the citizens of Pakistan are exploited on the basis of religion.
Prices of consumer goods skyrocket as soon as Ramadan draws closer. With the commonalty struggling to feed themselves most times of the year, Ramadan becomes more of a trouble with the price hikes.
On the contrary, basic consumer goods are offered on discounts with deals greatly offered to buyers exclusively to lessen the burden for the people. Yes, both nations "purely" Islamic, yet one failing to understand the pure essence of what the religion preaches.
Moreover, it is highly disliked to be seen eating or drinking in public places before the time for breaking the fast and almost all the restaurants do not serve food before Iftar (the time when the fast breaks). On the B-side, one residing in Pakistan has no restrictions of the sort.
Ramadan in Pakistan, now is all about commercialism. With television channels blaring with hosts making the audience move to thick-witted dance moves, along with games and quizzes that absolutely make no sense. Yes, all this goes on air in the name of this revered month which has absolutely no link with what the media houses have turned it into.
Not only are the anchors making themselves look silly on television screens but the audience is ever ready to follow whatever they are made to do on screen, be it imitating animals or eating desserts blindfolded. All this in a religious show?
With huge billboards on roadsides advertising these Ramadan transmissions, this menace needs to stop. The public needs to be educated and that can only be done, if good scholars who are well versed with their subjects conduct programs that are beneficial for the multitude on the whole and not only a source of TRPs for the channel only.