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Faith, charity, festivities

india Updated: Sep 24, 2007 01:55 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

With her deadline approaching, journalist Atiyah Rehman is busy filing a report, when she gets a missed call from her mother. She does not get angry. Rather, she feels thankful. After all, it’s a reminder for ‘iftar’ time.

This is the month of Ramzan. Head covered, hands held near the chest, Atiyah silently recites her prayers at her desk. With a few dates, she breaks her ‘roza’ before resuming work.

Atiyah is not alone. Unlike the older generation, which preferred to come back home for ‘iftar’, the time to break the fast (‘roza’), more and more young working professionals, and even students, are striking a fine balance between work and religious rituals.

Says Mohammed Nasir, a businessman in early 30s, “While the elders were conservative, I guess my generation is adaptive.”

But this does not mean the essence is diluted. For many, the holy month means abstinence from many things. While not watching movies, not going to the discos are a few of the self-imposed restrictions, there are other subtle ways of abstinence as well. For many, fasting during Ramzan means learning self-control, for some, it means coming closer to Allah.

“Fasting gives me inner peace. If you follow your faith in true sense, it gives immense satisfaction,” according to Sana A. R. Khan, a student of Amity Law School.

Adds Mohammed Faisal, a software engineer, “I feel it (fasting) makes me little more humble.” Faisal, who travels daily from Old Delhi to Gurgaon for work, sheepishly admits that he normally tries to get a seat in a bus, but during Ramzan, he offers it to the needy. “This is my way of paying zakat (compulsory charity during Ramzan),” says Faisal. Zakat, a charity of 2.5 per cent of the total earnings, is religiously paid by one and all among faithfuls.

Other regular practices include a visit to the Jama Masjid area to feel the ambience during festivities, not to mention shopping for Eid. For many, it is a month dedicated for religious activities like extra prayers and reading the holy Koran.

Observes Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Dr. Mufti Mohammed Mukarram Ahmed, “Even though we find there has been in general degradation in moral values, Ramzan brings about a spiritual revolution, especially amid youngsters. Roza should and does inculcate behavioural change. It’s not just about restriction on food, it’s also about restrictions on action,” he says, adding, it should instill fear for Allah and self-control.

More and more youngsters are taking interest in taravi (prayers at night during the month of Ramzan), says Ahmed.

Admits Atiyah, “I make it a point to offer taravi. And I also enjoy indulging in food, specially prepared for ‘iftar’ and ‘sehri’ (the sunrise time). I don’t forget the zakat either.”

Mohammed Nasir sums it up neatly, “It’s a month of celebration and charity.”