Commentary

Lavish Iftar parties, photo-ops & the dying lake

“O son of Adam, spend and I will spend on you”

A big hang up of our times — sometimes found even in those involved in philanthropy work projects, is the focus on doing something big. Ramzan provides a perfect milieu for such noble intentions to get accomplished, through various socio-religious contributions.

But much like everything we do – from our social interactions to gracious Iftar parties in Ramzan, every event has inner dimensions, certain rules and rituals of engagement that one must abide by, or is required to take care of.

Over the last few years, the tradition of providing free Iftar is becoming more popular in Kashmir, as a number of young individuals, philanthropists, NGOs and Masjid committees are coming forward to arrange parties of ‘Iftar” either through contributory donations, or make it free for the less fortunate.

Some “Iftar parties”, are set up along the shores of the majestic Dal-lake.

Prominent people from civil society, media personalities, orphans and destitutes are invited to break their fast together. We happily try to participate in the spirit of Ramzan keeping up a noble tradition of bringing people from various sections closer.

Sadly, now it’s upscale more often than not, where Iftar parties later turned into gatherings of feeding and feasting, showmanship (riya) or a publicity stunt of record breaking proportions.

“People breaking their fast to set a record of Asia’s Longest Iftaar on the Banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar ,” the media reported.

“Kashmiris participate in the Asia’s largest Iftar, spread on a 1.6 kilometre stretch, along the banks of the scenic Dal Lake in the summer capital.”

In one sense, one should not gather from these parties that someone is portraying himself as a symbol of generosity for their moral posturing. ‘Innamal a’malu binniyat’, Actions are dependent upon their Intentions.

The beginning of all actions is sincerity (ikhlaas).

This, I would like to remind myself and all of us, to always renew our niyat, our intention, while hosting such parties. It may be a sincere attempt on the part of organizers to promote humanity, unity, brotherhood, strengthening the natural, and the acquired relationships between human beings for the promotion of co-existence, interfaith communication and understanding.

So long these parties don’t turn into a spectacular event of publicity(riya), political opportunism, photo ops with orphans, dishes served, we get a feel of a good charity event, that appear to bring people of various classes and faiths together, thus bridging the gulf between the rich and the poor in an era of expanding inequality and misunderstandings.

Most of us feel these parties are counted amongst acts of kindness following a long rich tradition of Kashmiri society.

In a closely knit society like ours, it should continue throughout the year, not cease with Ramzan.

Whether the gatherings be cordial, generous, social and friendly, to host such huge gatherings at places like shores of Dal Lake is a herculean task.

May Allah reward the sincere intentions of Iftar parties’ organisers. Allah the Merciful, gave us the institution of Ramzanto utilise it, we should always derive maximum blessings and rewards of this month with peace of mind and humility, teaching us and others self-restraint, self-consciousness for contemplation and evaluation to modify our lifestyle in future.

Choosing the scenic beauty of Dal lake and its surrounding to host Iftar parties is not definitely a most favoured venue for such a virtuous gathering.

Understandably and inadvertently the tendency of weak souls like me and other participants getting distracted from the blessings of Ramzan towards a party culture are very high.

The conversations before, during and after the Iftar party, the kind of gossips galore affect the sanctity of Ramzan and narrow golden time of breaking the fast may be wasted, the minutes immediately before the breaking of the fast.

For environmentalists or our very own LAWDA , such mammoth gatherings may carry a potential threat of further polluting our prestigious and shrunken Dal lake, as most of us due to callousness and carelessness don’t respect principles of pollution control.

Also there are concerns on traffic regulation. Thank God good sense does prevail on organizers, who think of alternatives.

May Allah (SWT) reward their efforts, and answer the prayer of all of us, with this desire and hope, and accept the fast and worship from us.

Now Ramzan is almost over, let this month guide out lifestyle towards anything that is close to Allah, who gives us the fortitude to do good deeds worthy of acceptance, and keep us away from anything that doesn’t earn the pleasure of Allah.

Ameen.

 

Dr Fiaz Fazili has a Diploma in Islamic studies from Islamic Online University. His work has been published in local and international Journals. 

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