If you are an adherent of Islam (God have mercy on your eternal soul), you aware that Ramadan is upon you:
Ramadan (/ˌræməˈdɑːn/; Arabic: رمضان Ramaḍān, IPA: [rɑmɑˈdˤɑːn];[note 1] also transliterated Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, or Ramathan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ,which means scorching heat or dryness. … ([Some Wikipedia links removed] Ramadan; Wikipedia; page was last modified on 6 June 2016, at 08:12.)
If you live in Pakistan and happen to be a Christian, Pakistani law forces you to observe these ungodly Ramadan rules even though your faith says Jesus Christ the Son of God is the only path to God. The fasting portion of Ramadan in Pakistan often results in massive heatwaves affecting Muslims, Christians and other Non-Muslim minorities that forbid water! Last year in 2015 this resulted in deaths numbering in the thousands. Christians in Pakistan are stuck doing the grubby jobs that Muslims find either abhorrent or beneath their privilege. You can imagine the devastation faced during Ramadan restrictions placed on poverty stricken Christians.
Pakistani Christian Poverty
Scorching Heat, Ramadan and Pakistani Minorities
By Shamim Mahmood
Sent: 6/6/2016 3:00 PM
ISLAMABAD: Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a Muslim dominated country, where, it is imposed to respect Islam and if any one talk about its forced imposition, it can be considered as blasphemy. Minorities of the country are already living under the 24/7 threats and being dealt as second class citizen. Many people are being indulged in blasphemy laws and thousands have been facing such an insulting environment that made their life hell. Discrimination and hate are a daily routine matters, at work places, public places, eating places and other areas. Though protection is given in the constitutions the ground realities are different.
This evening, when every Muslim was greeting each other for the blessings of Ramadan, I was thinking about the minorities of Pakistan because willing or unwillingly, minorities’ living in Pakistan have to fast with their fellow Muslims. By means of the law the country forces everyone to go hungry during the month of Ramadan. In Pakistan, it is unlawful to drink, eat or smoke in public places during Ramadan. You can be sent to jail, heavily fined or may even be beaten by vigilantes. It’s a peak heat wave in Pakistan during June, with temperatures rises in the different regions routinely around 40 and above degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the days are at their longest of the year. The government is trying to alleviate the hardships of the month long sunrise-to-sunset fast.
Last year, a brutal heatwave killed dozens of people in Pakistan. Many of them died of dehydration while fasting in sweltering temperatures. Even then the respect of Ramadan is mandatory for all citizens of Pakistan.
During the military dictator Zia ul Haq the Ehtiram-e-Ramadan (Respect of Ramadan) bill was imposed that prescribes punishments of up to three months in jail and a fine for people who drink or eat publicly. According to the tenets of Islam, [non-Muslims] are under an obligation to fast, they shall not eat, drink or smoke in a public place during fasting hours in the month of Ramadan, [as defined by] Pakistan law.
Nearly every restaurant is closed from dawn to dusk, and a shopkeeper can only sell take away food items. And if you are hungry or thirsty the only place for you is home. At offices, public and private places, [non-Muslims also] are not allowed to eat.
Basharat Khokher, social activist, said that the law is inhumane and violates fundamental human rights. Those who want to fast have the right to do so, but those who don’t want to fast have equal rights also. I am religious and respect Ramadan, but it also is not intended to make you sick or put you in danger. Sometimes it’s so hot, that we can’t touch the metal poles on the scaffolding without gloves. A laborer cannot work in these conditions without water, he added.
“We cannot allow the liberal people to secularize our country, our society,” said Omar Bhatti, a student of Islamic research. “The respect of Ramadan is mandatory for all citizens of Pakistan. There can’t be any compromise on it.” As for religious minorities; they live in an Islamic country and must have to obey its rules.”
Those who do not fast should behave as if they are fasting, Qari Abdul Qadir, a cleric said. “Non-Muslims and elderly or sick Muslims can eat but they should show respect for fasting Muslims and avoid eating or drinking openly” he said.
With the growth of Islamic outfits such as the Taliban and its representation in the region, situation have become worse in the past years. Religious extremism and intolerance are on the rise in this region. Now even hospital cafeterias and bus stands don’t serve food during Ramadan. And if someone found around eating or drinking might accuse of blasphemy.
Maryam Khushi, a beautician, said forget about Ramadan, I have to be careful about what I do in public throughout the year. What I say, what I wear. People become more pious during Ramadan and I have to be more careful, she added.
Ramzan Qadir, a liberal Muslim in Islamabad, said respect needs to be two-way street. “If the religious people can’t respect my rights, I am not ready to respect theirs. It is simple as that he told. “And when these people go to Europe and the US, they insist on their rights. They protest against veil ban in France, but they don’t allow Christians in Pakistan to live freely. I found it hypocritical.
The tiny liberal community in the country is not powerful enough to challenge the Islamic laws. Occasionally observed, it is not just involving Ramadan, fanatic Muslims have taken the law into their own hands and have punished Christians and Hindus for a perceived lack of respect of Islam. In either case, minorities of Pakistan [are forced] to respect Ramadan.
SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is email@example.com, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone - +92-300-642-4560
Daily Times, Islamabad
Blogger and Human Rights Activist
Edited by John R. Houk
All links or text enclosed by brackets are by the Editor.
© Shamim Mahmood (Masih)