K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: The holy month of Ramzan, which is the harbinger of much happiness and good cheer to Muslims the world over, has come. This month marks a period of fasting, alms-giving and special prayers which Muslims all over the world undertake as ordained by Allah in a bid to cleanse and rejuvenate their souls.
All Muslims believe that it is a very pious and spiritually rewarding act to provide food for anyone at Iftar, the time when people break their fasts immediately after sunset.
So it is a common tradition among Muslims to arrange Iftar parties for their friends and relatives by turns which become occasions not only to enrich their souls but for happy socialising too. Many well-to-do Muslims with noble intentions arrange such parties to feed the poor too.
But we have been discovering of late that a new breed of politically motivated Iftar parties are becoming commonplace not with the object of winning any spiritual rewards but with the motive of winning the hearts of Muslim vote-banks.
While the head of a Muslim seminary has recently issued a fatwa or religious edict that Muslims should not attend such politically motivated Iftars he has been reminded almost immediately by many Muslim organisations through a fusillade of repartees that he has no locus standi to issue it.
Since everything is fair in love, war and politics there is nothing anyone can do about this unholy trend and I am sure it is here to stay and reap its earthly rewards.
But I would like to highlight here a different kind of Iftar party of which I have been a beneficiary for the past so many years and the kind of which we need to encourage to foster brotherliness and inter-religious harmony at a time when these qualities seem very elusive and intangible.
Every Tuesday I have my weekly outdoor clinic at the town of Kollegal which is a rather long drawn affair that goes on till late in the night. This has been a tradition that I have chosen not to abandon after I had to wind up my regular practice there nearly nine years ago when I had to move over to Mysore in search of higher education for my children.
Every Tuesday, unfailingly, during every Ramzan, O.P. Mahesh Kumar and Jagadish, my two Hindu friends there have insisted and ensured that I along with my clinic staff break our fasts with the freshly cooked, piping hot food they bring from their homes just before sunset.
They are ordinary souls of modest means with neither motive nor ambition but they do so with simple love and affection. Now, how is that for a really pious and holy act?
(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician, who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where a longer version of this piece originally appeared)
Representative photograph: Mysore deputy commissioner P. Manivannan at an iftar at the Muslim girls’ orphanage in 2008 (courtesy The Hindu)