Why should non-Muslims bear the brunt of your compulsion to fast in Ramazan?

Published: June 13, 2016

An 80-year-old non-Muslim man, Gokal Das was beaten up severely because he was found eating rice 40 minutes before iftar time. PHOTO: EXPRESS

How many times have you gone for a dinner to a restaurant and then told the management to get rid of the beggars outside looking in through the window? If not that, then how many times have you gone to buy a kebab roll with a hungry child staring at you? How many times did you react in an irritating manner saying,

“It’s hard to even buy a roll now without them bothering me!”

Let’s dial it down even more, how many times have you eaten something knowing very well that there are people right outside the restaurant who can’t even afford a single meal?

Realise it or not, we have meals all the time while many go hungry. We eat food day in and day out while others are starving.

Then comes the month of Ramazan where one of the many things we aim to do is learn how the poor feel. To learn about their hunger so we can do more for them. To learn to empathise.

Does that happen?

Everything on TV is just about food.

Most of the people fasting just talk about food. Sehri is not even finished, and what will be the menu for iftari and dinner is already being discussed. Half the day at home is either spent sleeping or cooking. Others start to slack where work is concerned.

I thought the point of Ramazan was to lead a normal life, do everything while fasting.

In 1981, Ziaul Haq passed the Ethram-e-Ramazan Ordinance which stated that anyone eating in public place will be fined and/or jailed for three months.

That meant no serving food in certain public places either. Only hospitals, railway stations, trains, airports, or school canteens for children would be exempt.


Why is it that when it is our turn to not eat, we force others not to do so either? Where was this ehtaram (respect) when we were eating in front of the hungry? Where is this ehtaram when we go out to eat and make our maids sit in the corner while we finish?

There are many reasons why another person might not be fasting; old age, illness, medicines, about to travel, non-Muslim, maybe he did not feel like it. The matter is between him and God. So why do we impose what we are doing on others too?

And is our faith really that weak that the sight of another person eating would make us jump on their food and start munching? Do we have no self-control whatsoever?  Our stomachs would growl so loudly that it would break everyone’s fast including ours? That weak?

Apparently it is. Every year stories go viral about how someone beat up another person because they were “caught” eating.

Yesterday in Ghotki, an 80-year-old non-Muslim man, Gokal Das was beaten up severely because he was found eating rice 40 minutes before iftar time.

He was 80-years-old!

Let that sink in. Eighty!

Even our own grandparents at home don’t fast at this age. Do we go around beating them up too?

And to make matters worse, he was assaulted by a policeman. One who is supposed to protect the citizens. He has since been arrested but why would anyone inflict such violence for such a small matter?

Pakistan is not the only country where such things happen. In Iran, a judge once sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette because he ate in Ramazan. This punishment was carried out in the open in Kermanshah. Five other men, this time Muslim, were also flogged with 70 lashes for not fasting.

I guess in Pakistan, we should be glad that it is not the government that imposes such punishments, just over zealous crazy people, and in the end the culprits are sent to jail.

In Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the rule is that anyone found eating will be flogged, jailed and/or deported.

It’s the month for peace, for reflection, for charity, for empathy. Where are all those things? Why do we have in place this notion of superiority where we impose what we are doing on others?

Whatever happened to the verse regarding no compulsion in religion?

This line should be plastered all over Pakistan to serve as a reminder to all those who impose their will upon others, so they can’t forget – There is no compulsion in religion!

That being said, this is not the Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned.

Shamila Ghyas

Shamila Ghyas

The writer is the author of the Aoife and Demon series. She also writes for Khabaristan Times, The Nation, Express Tribune, Dawn and other publications. She can be reached at @ShamilaGhyas (twitter.com/ShamilaGhyas) and www.facebook.com/shamilaghyas

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • whatever

    Pakistanis cry for Indian muslim but ignore the plight of Pakistani Hindu, Pakistani cry for Kshmiri and Palestini but ignore Uighurs, Pakistani has sympathy for Jamaat leaders who are getting hanged by Bangladesh but has no sympathy for Bihari Muslims who fought for Pakistan in 71 war, Pakistan boast for nuclear power but there is scarcity of electric power. Pakistan children are crippled with polio but has more interest if there is any polio case in India.Recommend

  • LS

    Ya.. but.. but.. It was a Muslim in an Islamic Country.. They have more privilege than anybody else… In fact they asked for a country (no one else did) because they thought they had more privilege that anybody else.. just because they are Muslim… It is all justified… whether it is a Hindu eating food, a christian selling Ice cream


    they WILL be beaten up, they WILL be converted.. they WILL be Raped, their temples/churches will be desecrated

    Churches burned

    Hindu Girls kidnapped and converted, but forced to tell that she did it on her own


  • Veryrealistic

    Because this is the law of the land. This is the Islamic Republic. No hypocrisy like Bharat.Recommend

  • Peterson

    Horses have already bolted out of the barn. Things will only get worse for non-Muslims and Women in Pakistan. Best to leave the country when there is still a chance.Recommend

  • ab1990

    this incident proves that muslims can never live peacefully when in majority nor minorityRecommend

  • Critical

    Funny how Muslims turn secular and promote interfaith harmony by “requesting” us to give them prayer halls and asking us not to eat in the desk during Ramadan…Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    I blame this Hindu guy. He had 65 years to see Pakistan and leave. Why is he still there? Why is any minority, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Shia, Ahmedi, Bohra, Parsi still in Pakistan? Can’t you see that sooner or later the Sunnis will come for you. They will get you for eating, selling ice cream, drinking water, blasphemy, touching their utensils, calling your place of worship mosque, living on property they covet, having a daughter they have eyes on and a hundred other reasons. They will kill you, maim you, make you refugee, jail you and in the end just shrug and say this is not what Jinnah intended. This is exactly what Jinnah intended and if you did not see it in 65 years, you have only yourself to blame.Recommend

  • drkartikaypandey

    Highly disappointed to see a Hindu elderly man, in such a sorry state, & he being labelled as a non-Muslim (as if he has no identity of his own, which is Hindu).
    Pl. discourage such a practice of addressing people of other faiths, than Islam.
    If Muslims, learn even the letter ‘T’ of tolerance, then only fasting in this supposedly holy month is of any use.
    How nice would it be if Muslims vow of a totally non-violent Ramzan, at least?
    Will it be UN-Islamic?
    If no living creature during Ramzan is killed for meat/flesh/blood, etc., it will please the Almighty more than anything else.
    Sacrificing an animal-effigy on Id-ul-Fitr, instead of a living animal, can also be agood idea, to restore some respect to Islam.
    All physical bodies (made of 5 elements) are mortal, only the soul is immortal.
    Are we doing anything for the soul (www.sahib-bandgi.org).
    Just think over it!

    [email protected]Recommend

  • indiandude

    At the heart of this behaviour is the hate that a ‘good’ muslims have for infidels. In Pakistan’s case the institutionalize hate for the Hindus. No amount of blogging in english is going to change it. Only option is to pay back Pakistani muslims in the same coin. Pakistanis are blot on Islam, majority of billion+ good muslims have to suffer because of 200 million pakistani bad apples.Recommend

  • Nazir Hussain

    A police investigation has been ordered. Let us wait for the outcome. This whole thing smacks of ‘fiction’ for not so benign reasons. Why so many cases of violation of minorities are reported these days. There must be some explanation for this.Recommend

  • Lets look at logic

    The author does not know the true facts about Pakistan. She is only reflecting the fake version of this country’s history written in text books.

    Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, and that too specifically the Sunni Islam. That version moved to the Wahhabi ideology starting as far back as the 50s.

    Pakistanis blame Zia for Islamization, where as the entire basis of Pakistan was to create the world’s first Islamic state.

    The Shariah is pretty clear on the rights of non-Muslims in a Muslim country, which is there are no rights. Whatever the left wing apologists write about are basically verses that were promoted when Islam was in its infancy.

    The later part of the Quran and the Shariah books afterwards have clear instructions. Every Muslim must spread Islam. First a Muslim ask through his tongue. If the other party does not listen, then physical jihad becomes a duty. The “non-believer” needs to be killed or he must pay heavy taxes and must contain his religious activities to himself.

    Whats happening in Pakistan and with the Muslims elsewhere in the world is a direct consequence of the Shariah laws.

    Pakistan was created in the name of Shariah and it can never be taken away from its genetics.Recommend

  • Spot Nana

    Muslims all over the world are like this.Recommend

  • Rafey

    Desi pseudo-liberals at it again…firstly, in case you haven’t noticed yet, Pakistan is a secular democratic country. Islam isn’t implemented in the country so why paint a picture as though it is? secondly, the policeman who assaulted the old man has been arrested and is in jail. Everyone without exception has condemned his action so what’s your point? lastly, muslims don’t have a ‘compulsion’ to fast – everyone is free to fast or not – there are a great number of muslims in pakistan which dont – there is no punitive action for those who dont fast so again you need to calm down and not blow things out of proportion.Recommend

  • wb

    You asked too many question and the answer to all those question is ISLAM. It’s the very nature of Islam to be like this.

    You say Islam is religion of peace, but you act absolutely the opposite of it.

    You say Islam was the first religion to give women’s rights. you don’t

    The problem with Muslims is they do not have an open mind and heart. Recommend

  • Mehwesh

    I’d say – we should mind our own business in every case. whether Muslims or non Muslims … A person’s religion is his own matter. No one has the right to correct anyone unless they feel that the religion is coming under threat! There could be million and one reasons for a Muslim to not fast. Can we not have tiny winy bit of tolerance?Recommend

  • sunil vohra

    Shamila,totally agree with you.Recommend

  • rationalist

    “Why should non-Muslims bear the brunt of your compulsion to fast in Ramazan”

    Why? Recommend

  • rationalist

    ” In Iran, a judge once sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt
    with a cigarette because he ate in Ramazan. This punishment was carried
    out in the open in Kermanshah. Five other men, this time Muslim, were
    also flogged with 70 lashes for not fasting.”

    Islam says there is no compulsion in religion but muslims compel someone not to eat.

  • Kamran Ahmed

    I think author needs to learn about Islam and its customs. Every country has its own rules and regulation, being a muslim country every indiviual whether muslim or non muslim needs to respect Ramadhan. It is biased article. I do agree with the first part f the article but it could not amalgamate with the respect of Ramadhan. I also condemn whatever people did with 80 years old hindu man. But do you condemn what Indians are doing with Muslim who eats beef? ThinkRecommend

  • naeemhussain

    How can you take one individual example and generalize it. Non Muslims in Pakistan do not have to fast there is no compulsion. For last few years the propaganda campaign against Pakistan is high it is planned by the enemy of Pakistan and Islam.Recommend

  • wb

    But that’s not Islam teaches. Recommend

  • SamSal

    Non-muslims are not required to fast. But they cannot eat or drink or smoke outside their homes during ramzaan.
    Go read ehtraam-e-ramzaan act! There IS a compulsion!Recommend

  • siesmann

    Will happen when you have Ehtram-e-Everything(Muslim,off course) Ordinances.And Mullah is always there to implement them or incite others to do it.Mullah is Pakistan’s problem and its bane, not religion.Recommend

  • wb

    Yes. As you’ve rightly guessed, it’s a RAW, Mossad, CIA conspiracy.Recommend

  • Salma

    You write well. I admire your humanism. Your empathy for the dispossessed. Alas! Pakistan as a country is spiralling down, being choked at either end, by extremist ideas that breed intolerance, that justify violence on the week, that condone criminal acts by dubbing them as religious. All in the name of the Compassionate, in the name of Religion of peace.Recommend

  • asad

    For the same reason, why Muslims should bear the brunt of the prohibition of meat in Indian. If you are not willing to buy this argument, lets not generalize a sole highly condemnable event to be the part of ones culture or religionRecommend

  • Alter Ego

    What do you know of Islam.
    I bet you have never even read the Holy Book once.
    All you have ever heard are stories and more stories.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    The same reason
    Muslims are persecuted and killed for eating beef in India.
    Muslims are not allowed to wear Burqa in France.
    Muslims are forced to live as slaves in Israeli dominated Palestine.

    Each country has her own rules and ethics.Those living there must adapt to them.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Liked the article……and agree with the sentiments expressed.Recommend

  • abhi

    We don’t except anything better than this from Pakistan anyway. I have sympathy for Hindus living there. They should move to India as soon as possible.Recommend

  • Ahmad Sippal

    The law prohibits only Muslims from eating, not non-Muslims. Miss Shamila conveniently glosses over this fact in her enthusiasm to bash muslims.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmmm, then Same should happen in the WestRecommend

  • Sane

    Hindus all over India kill people on eating beef.Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    Yes they do. Thats why there are only 180 million muslims in India.Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    A logical response, finally… These unfortunate souls need to get out of Pakistan ASAP.Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    How come these stories and more stories are only ones people hear and not the ones from the Holy Book? Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    Condemn when Indian muslims eat beef? Indian muslims are burned alive by Hindus when they eat beef. Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Reading and understanding is hard.
    Listening is easy.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “Why should non-Muslims bear the brunt of your compulsion to fast in Ramazan?”

    You cannot call a non Muslim an infidel while having respect for their life style, this is very common of Muslims from one continent to another, Pakistan being a product of this mindset is spearheading this ideology just like it is home to probably the largest number of state sponsored terrorist organisations.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    You sound pretty reasonable Mehwesh but I have seen Muslims like you from close quarters who were extremely liberal in their dealings with non Muslims but it is not the case any longer, these people have turned rabidRecommend

  • LS

    See the irony there? Muslims “All OVER the WORLD!!”. Hindus do that only in India. Secondly, Muslim are in fight with every religion on earth everywhere.. they are in fight with local population where ever they are in minority and exercise violence. There is hardly any country where Muslims are NOT a problem… In fact they are big problem in their own country also..Recommend

  • siesmann

    Dilemma of Islam/or bigotry. Have you ever seen Muslims doing what they wish others to believe what Islam is?Recommend

  • siesmann

    Because Muslims did it.Teach the law to Muslims.Recommend

  • siesmann

    And still Muslims claim they are the best.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Muslims are the enemies of IslamRecommend

  • siesmann

    Right.Punitive action is only for non-Muslims.Recommend

  • siesmann

    So you admit the intolerance in Islam.A Muslim in “hypocritical” India can go out and expect to return whole and complete . Does he in non-hypocritical Pakistan?Recommend

  • vasan

    Is that your “Sane” answer. I would think it is “insane”. LOLRecommend

  • vasan

    The irony is that muslims themselves are trying to get out of Pakistan, legally or illegally, Going by the number of pakistanis deported from the rest of the world. it appears there are no takers for themRecommend

  • np

    “Mullah is Pakistan’s problem and its bane, not religion”.
    Disagree. Recommend

  • gp65

    You make it appear as though what happened to Mohammed Akhlaq is the norm. it is not. The action was condemned by everyone in India and the killers are in jail. In any case cow slaughter is prohibited in India and that was the case even in Mughal times. Eating beef is not prohibited. In Pakistan it your law itself which is biased.
    Plus shouldn’t you worry about what happens in your country to a fellow country man? More so if the laws institutionalize discrimination?Recommend

  • gp65

    Well why then was the old Hindu man beaten up?Recommend

  • gp65

    There is an Indian law against cow slaughter which was there even during Mughal times. There is no law against eating beef. What happened was one terrible crime which was criticized roundly by all Indians including Hindus. Please do not compare a lone wolf crime with institutionalized discrimination.Recommend

  • gp65

    Muslims can and do eat beef in India. There is no law in India against eating beef, just a law against cow slaughter which exists from Mughal times. Please do not compare a lone wolf crime in India which was condemned by all including Hindus with institutionalized discrimination in PakistanRecommend

  • gp65

    Pakistan is secular? Have you seen your blasphemy law? Have you seen laws that prohibit freedom of worship for Ahmadis? Have you seen laws that forbid non-Muslims from becoming PM, President, CJ of Supreme Court or COAS?
    Have you seen the law silently approving close to a thousand young girls being forcibly converted each year?
    what is the name of your country – Republic of Pakistan or Islamic Republic of Pakistan? What is the name of your capital? Why is CII consulted before passing each law? Why does your constitution say that there can be no Pakistani law which is inconsistent with Islam?Recommend

  • np

    Are they allowed to eat in the open – even if they are not fasting? No. Please read the Ehteram-e-Ramzan act before stating such utter lies.Recommend

  • Ateeque Ur Rehman Soomro

    Agree with the writer (y) she has point out something that I wish people to understand these fact that yes Islam is not about forcing its about love and care but what people are doing is entirely the opposite of it, especially Pakistan which is just a Islamic Country by name not by act. utterly illiterate people who don’t even know what Islam is they are creating such confusion to play the fear game to make their monarch system supreme.
    Islam never teaches that if you are fasting then make every one force not to eat.. its very common in pakistan where ill, travling, non-muslims, or some one older is being target …where is love and care that islam teaches. Ramzan the holy to care for each other Now the image of the month is being stereotyped as “bhai ramzan hy khana peena allow nahi ehtram karo” and were is ehtram when hungry and needy people on street just days after ramzan, the same people are eating in front of them… Pakistan was never islamic,, never is,. nor will ever be. These stereotype acts like 5 times namaz but keep lying all the time, trending islam like fashion on fb and media shows thats not islam forbidding people and beating them thats not islam,

  • Ateeque Ur Rehman Soomro

    Get a life ( “non-believer” needs to be killed ) you must be insane like other idiots in pak
    for your kind information let me tell you one thing
    Islam never teaches violence, Its a religion of peace
    and what you jhail community think then if the same starts from west and other religionsRecommend

  • Ateeque Ur Rehman Soomro

    True fake Mullahs and stereotype acts are not religion

    they are the one creating problems in the whole worldRecommend

  • bmniac

    There are lakhs of Indians who eat beef most days of the week!Recommend

  • vinsin

    Because they gave Pakistan to Indian Muslims to eat beef.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Can Mecca be return to Arab Pagans?Recommend

  • vinsin

    But Indian gave Pakistan to eat beef so why Muslims want to eat beef in India?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Pakistan was created for eating beef for Indian Muslims so why they want to eat beef now?
    France is a secular country not Islamic.
    Slavery is legal in Islam. Palestinian have two countries Syria and Jordan

    Your last line is correct that noone should be complaining, dont like a country change it.Recommend

  • vinsin

    You are right.Recommend

  • vinsin

    The verse no compulsion in religion is already abrogated.
    Love Jihad is celebrated on Pakistani news channels.

    This is not Jinnah Pakistan, Jinnah Pakistan is even worse.

    Such incidents dont define a nation state, it is the action against them and to punish the perpetrators is what makes a nation.Recommend

  • Mark Jones

    If only all followers of the Islamic faith thought as you do – but therein lies the problem – they don’t. Part of the healing process will be for followers to admit there are inherent problems so they can be aired and addressed. Merely saying Islamism is such and such when others are clearly acting in a different manner yet all are using the same rule book isn’t really helping.

    I see positive signs though from a growing number of Muslim scholars and that is some sort of reformation is required (and no the Koran does not need to be rewritten). It is time for it to occur. I was hoping this would happen but I’m quite surprised at how speedily it is taking root. After all religion is basically an imprinted set of ideas so it is just a matter of imprinted the right ones. It isn’t really rocket science.Recommend

  • Ahmad Sippal

    Yes some of them did. However, by reading the article, one feels as if there is an epidemic of Pakistanis/Muslims attacking non-muslims who eat during ramazan. This is clearly not happening.Recommend

  • Ahmad Sippal

    He was beaten up in an act illegal according to Pakistani law; and an act resented by the general populace of PakistanisRecommend

  • Muslim

    Then they must learn to respect laws of the land they chose to live in! Recommend

  • Muslim

    Don’t worry there will only 180 million Hindus left by the turn of the century.Recommend

  • LS

    No it is not a worry, we all exactly know what muslims want.. that IS the reason they should NOT be given any rights, privileges and kicked out of the countryRecommend

  • ifti

    Its not the Pakistan Mr. Jinnah wants. It is a country hijacked by THUGGS soon after it was Born. We still want a Mahatir Mohammad to LEADRecommend