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A neighbourhood-friendly Ramazan

Aug 1, 2011

Ramaza Mubarak
The Holy Month Of Ramazan has arrived. Its time for fast, pray and live peacefully. 
Ramazan may be a blessed month for all of us. But do we really care to make it blissful for the entire neighbourhood. We often miss the fact that we live in a plural society, colonies or apartments shared by several of our non-Muslim compatriots. Hardly few amongst us have ever spared a thought of being sensitive to the comfort of our Hindu or Christian neighbours. With Muslim mohallas staying awake till the dead of the night, sirens wailing from every conceivable nook and corner, awnings of the samosa and fruit stalls jutting out on the roads and often threatening to play havoc against the moving traffic, the decibel levels of din during the blessed month is often unpleasantly high. All this only mars the solemnity of the month that promises immense rewards for the believers if practiced with care and concern for the neighbours.

With nearly one-third of the Indian people coming to live in towns and cities, the premium on peace in urban areas is very high. It is in this context that we need to render Ramazan free of din. It is therefore appropriate to advise an all-round effort to make it noise-free. Certain of the old practices which have outlived their utility in the modern time need to be looked at anew. The days when drum beaters roamed about the streets issuing wake-up calls for sehri, are certainly over. No purpose is served in continuing the ritual when everyone affords a cellphone beneath the pillow for the purpose.

When watches were a luxury till some three decades ago, sirens from the mosque served the purpose of announcing the Sehri and Iftar. Now that mosques occur at every drop of the hat, it only serves to add to cacophony. Care also needs to be taken about taraweeh prayers. Some of us think it desirable to carry out the entire 20 rakahs over the amplifiers. It is just sufficient if the imam’s intonation could be heard within the precincts of the mosque. Similarly, congregation of the taraweeh should not be allowed to spill onto the roads. If mosque spaces prove inadequate, community facilities such as marriage halls, schools or colleges may be thrown open for the purpose. After all no marriages take place during Ramazan.

The five holy nights too are turning out to be a sore point. Far from being blessed nights, these are turning into nightmare for the entire neighbourshoods. As is being generally observed, for an average Muslim, the night of power (Lailatul Qadr) is more of a festive occasion to be whiled away shopping, chatting or gossiping over endless cups of tea at the tea houses around the mosque. Somehow these nights have come to be construed as occasion for staying awake rather than supplication. Some youths have even begun using the nights for drag racing on two wheelers, exploding firecrackers and decking up mosques. It is simply abominable to say the least. Piety goes with quietude. Pomp, show and gaiety were never expected out of a night witnessing advent of angels. Divine blessings are reserved for those who celebrate the praise of God in solitude of homes, rather than those who are out, rejoicing on streets.

Ramazan was meant to be a month for caring and sharing. Disbursement of Zakat and Fitra, and promise of divine rewards for as small a gesture as offering a date to the hungry were all in the spirit of making the bonds of social camaraderie strong. But we have come to mount spectacles by throwing lavish Iftar parties and feeding the already overfed inmates in the orphanages. Few have the patience to find out the really needy and deserving. Hardly ever the idea of funding the treatment of the sick, or donating for a hospital or school of the underdogs crosses our minds.

With banana skins and fruit peels left to rot out in and around the mosques, youths cooking ‘ganjee’ on the roadsides, cap and perfume stalls encroaching upon the already constricted public space and din reaching the crescendo around Iftar, Muslim neighbourhoods do not present a pretty picture of themselves. It is therefore time to introspect as to why civic amenities fail to deliver and authorities beginning to consider the Muslim ghettoes unserviceable.