Stories about fasting

When the beast awakens on Eid

Let us ask ourselves this. Eidul Fitr approaches amidst scorching heat and Panama hearings. Gulping down fancy iftars and filling sehris, what have we stored for our Eid?  I will tell you what – the Pret collection of branded clothes, quality makeup kits and tall heels. We’ve fixed appointments at salons and parlours to look our best on Eid day. There are lavish meals planned with family and friends. While festive gatherings are in consonance with the harmonious spirit of Islam, there is a question as to how much we actually recall from the holy month that is nearing its end. While these blessed days are spent in sujood (prostration) and taraveeh (obligatory prayers), how ...

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Refusing to treat sweepers in Ramazan only highlights our doctors’ unethical unprofessionalism

“Primum non nocere” is Latin for “first, do no harm”. Although not overtly found in the text of the original Hippocratic Oath, the message in that Latin phrase holds firm for students making the transition from medical apprenticeship to medical practice. Scholars have widely attributed the oath to Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. As their rite of passage, young doctors graduating from medical schools the world over take some modern version or another of the oath, several in their own languages. Medical schools in Pakistan follow suit in terms of the oath being taken by students prior to practicing as independent doctors, with valid medical licenses ...

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An open letter to AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia

Respected AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia, According to newspaper reports, you have announced that the annual salary increments of those working in your court will be based on “how regularly they offer their prayers”. You also declared that you would lead some of the prayers yourself, ostensibly to observe which of the court’s officers offer prayers and to secretly check whether they are complying with your order or not. Your honour, do you realise that your order violates Islam’s injunction which clearly states that there ‘should be no compulsion in Islam’ (Surah Baqarah, verse 256)? Since those who do not ...

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Do we deserve to ‘celebrate’ Eidul Fitr this year?

“Chand nazar agaya! Ramazan Kareem! Kal se rozay shuroo.” (We can see the moon! Ramazan Kareem! Fasting begins tomorrow) Some spend the night before in prayer. Others clink glasses and prepare for the pause in self-induced inebriation. Others stock up on Rooh Afza and pakora mix. Some can’t wait to be put in a food detox in hopes that they will lose the last few pounds during the holy month. The others are scared those extra pounds will sneak up on them. Some prepare a week in advance, cleaning out their savings account so that the banks don’t deduct zakat fees that they are liable to ...

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Five variations of pakoras that are light on the taste, heavy on the waist!

The month of fasting (and over-eating) is progressing towards the end, but what makes this Ramazan more special is the fact that it is coinciding with monsoon. The clouds in Karachi seem ready to pour any moment now – please, God, please? Monsoon and Ramazan have nothing in common save for a garma garam (piping hot) plate of pakoras. This Pakistani staple is a must-have for iftar and any dastar-khuwan (dining table) is incomplete without a variation of this. The popularity of pakoras lies not only in their unique flavour profile but also in their affordability. Pakoras or Bhajiyas are ...

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Facebook’s Ramazan greeting spreads dangerous myths about Islam

Facebook produced their own Ramazan greeting which popped up on news feeds as users logged onto the website. Though this may appear to be a simple, generic seasonal greeting, there are several underlying issues with its visual message. The first thing that struck me was that the female figures in the greeting are wearing hijab. Let me make it clear that I have no objections to the hijab, niqab, or any other type of covering that people may choose to don, as long as it is done with knowledge, awareness, and understanding. With regards to the hijab, this pertains to the ...

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Government officials will fast in their air-conditioned offices and the public will face eight hour power shortages

I remember the times when power outages were rare. This was before the widespread use of air conditioners. Today, in every government department, air conditioners are switched on long before the baboos arrive in the morning. This is to ensure that when they enter their cabins, the temperature is not more than 20 degrees centigrade. These government officials, ministers included, want to remain cool so they are comfortable even when the temperature outside is 45 to 50 degrees. One doesn’t mind our bureaucrats and ministers enjoying themselves in their ultra-cool offices. But what they forget is that the electricity they use ...

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Why I’m not fasting this Ramazan

According to family legend, I first fasted—for a day—at the age of four. I have no clear memory of this fast, although I do have the vague recollection of walking into the kitchen while my mom prepared iftar and her asking, “If you’re fasting, why are you sucking on a lollipop?” Ramazan in our house was a big deal. Ramazan meant we could—at least for a month—pretend we were adults. I insisted on fasting the entire month starting at the age of seven.  My parents agreed, but with three stipulations: I had to wake up for sehri, eat whatever was served during sehri (generally, ...

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Since when does my fasting or not fasting jeopardise someone else’s imaan?

My grandmother used to call it Ramazan Shareef. There was no discussion, debate or argument over its pronunciation. The month would come in its usual cycle without much fuss or ado. Television channels wouldn’t go bonkers except for some increased airtime for naats and religious discussions that were never heavily advertised. People wouldn’t wear cloaks all across. If someone in the house didn’t fast, others wouldn’t raise their eyebrows. The non-fasting family members would comfortably go on with usual daily meals without being given guilt trips. There were simpler, not-so-extravagant iftar dinners where family members would get together without any pressure on ...

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“That crazy starving Muslim!” Why do Muslims fast, anyway?

When my Lithuanian classmate who sat next to me asked whether I wanted to have lunch one day, I explained to her that I was fasting as it was the month of Ramazan. She gave me a sarcastic smile and said, “Well, you crazy people can starve all you want!” On my way back home, I started thinking of how ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’ fasting could seem to some people, especially those whose lifestyle and culture are not familiar with this practice. While trying to scrutinise my knowledge and trying to understand this further, I came to a painful realisation: I was not at ...

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