Friday, June 17, 2016

Be sensitive to people around you! Muslims are also your countrymen.

I am sick of hearing "Haan, madam. Hamara phone aatey hi aapki aawaz ekdam dheemi ho gayi" during Ramzan. I feel like screaming! But politely explain. Then some laughs at other end if its a joke. I am least amused. More energy wasted. There's no way to explain anything to anyone unless you feel it. There is so much ignorance out there about Muslims.

Though, it's no big deal and God sees you through, sometimes I feel that though there are so many Muslims in India, no one really tries to understand their fellow countrymen. I've wondered since years about it and now I feel is the right time to express.

No iftaar meal packets, special takeaway counters (I had a bad experience last year trying to buy a snack in time for iftaar as I was not carrying anything with me). No sensitivity to people fasting around you. I was breaking my fast in the train a few days back (we have to break at exact time else the fast becomes invalid) and I was saying 'iftaar ki neeyat' and dua, still this lady was shaking me asking where I will get off, knowing well that I am praying (with a dupatta on my head) and a snack box of dates and cut apples which I carry with me during Ramzan. I had asked her to wait, with an eye signal. Yet, she couldn't wait for 1/2 min. I finished my dua and ate a date and with my mouth ful I had to respond to her question. Others who understood were watching the fun and seemed amused. Even in office, some people eat in front of you. Only few respect your fast. Even after requesting some people not to call at specific time, they end up calling you exactly at 7.20 pm (current iftaar time in Mumbai) to ask something. Sadly, some of my new colleagues never knew about rozas until they saw me fast (those who know me, learn). Else no one bothers to know, while other cultures and religions interest me. Some others in India don't even know that Ramzan is going on unless they want to go to Mohammed Ali Road to eat Miyan bhai goodies. All those facilities are enjoyed mostly by non working Muslims. And is mainly crowded by non Muslims, who go to relish the non-veg goodies as well as the sweets. For Muslims, Ramzan is about a lot more than fast and prayers. Its about abstinence, charity, connecting to God.

Neither am I boasting (am not at that stage of my life to do so) nor ranting (could have done it many years back or over the years), but it saddens me that even with a huge population, no one attempts something like a iftaar snack meal with dates (such a cool business idea) for their Muslim countrymen (except in Muslim areas where some people pool some fruits and snacks for travelling rozedaars). In my life, the only non Muslim area/ place where I saw prayer and iftaar arrangements was Asian Hospital at Bandra Kurla Complex, where my Dad underwent a bypass surgery during Ramzan in the year 2009. It has a prayer room for every religion. That's only one hospital I found peaceful, else I dread going to hospitals. They give me the creeps!

When your Muslim colleagues, who are fasting and saving lunch time, tea break time and working non-stop and want to use the saved time to leave that much early to be as closest to their house during iftaar, do not give them an unwanted look. Nor treat is as a favour. There have been times during emergencies, where I've broken fast at my desk and continued working late in the night as well. As I am well aware of my duties. 

Then there are some people who will advise you not to fast, some who will belittle your fast stating that Muslims eat entire night and keep feasting, so a little bit of not eating during the day, didn't matter much. Then there is laughter at a miyanbhai joke cracked. I wonder who these genius people are who can eat and keep awake whole night and then work all day! Definitely not normal adults! Sometimes waking up for 'sehri'/ 'suhoor' (pre dawn meal) is itself a task and eating something then is another task. You cannot compare some kids who skip college and fast by sleeping through the day (or after school) and like to have goodies when breaking the fast and label it to Muslims in general. We do a lot of silly things as kids and expect gifts and goodies when we feel we achieved something we didn't believe we could!

Ask me about Hindu, Christians, Parsis, Jains' festivals and customs, and I will tell you. And so will my family and many educated Muslims. And we respect them and show concern during people's sensitive festivals and times. But about Muslims, no one wants to know anything. Except biryani recipes.

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