With the recent increase in the number of ‘food’ groups on social media, one gets to see a number of very interesting posts while scrolling down the news feed. Being a foodie, I particularly enjoy these posts. Earlier today, one post caught my attention in which an individual had posted in a group asking for places that serve food during daytime in Ramadan. With the Ehtaram-e-Ramadan Ordinance being implemented in the country, restaurants and eateries of all sorts refrain from selling food items to anyone, irrespective of the buyer’s age, religion or health conditions. This particular individual made it a point to mention in his post that he was not a ‘hypocrite’ and that he wanted to know which restaurants would serve him food, clearly implying that he does not fast.

Foodies tend to help other foodies – that is in fact the purpose of these groups – to share reviews and to suggest places to each other. Keeping the main purpose of such groups in mind, a number of individuals started giving out names of places that somehow manage to serve food during daytime in Ramadan.  Of course, however, niceness isn’t always repaid by the same gesture. The same person who had asked for the list then commented saying he would now report the list to the concerned authorities to ensure that these restaurants which serve food during fasting hours are closed down. In a disgusting display of deceit, the individual had the audacity to thank his fellow ‘brothers and sisters’ for helping him ensure that nobody manages to serve food during daytime in Ramadan and that he would do whatever it took to ensure the proper implementation of the ‘Ehtaram-e-Ramadan’ ordinance. All ‘Ehtaram’, which translates to respect, was lost for this man and the ideology he propagated when I read this post. His disgusting comment ended with a smiley; he was satisfied with the deceitful act he had pulled off.

Each year, during the holy month, the debate of whether restaurants should be kept open during daytime arises. The Ehtaram-e-Ramadan Ordinance, which was introduced in 1981, has criminalized the acts of eating or drinking in public places during the fasting hours of Ramadan. While there are a number of flaws that can be pointed out in this ordinance, the foremost flaw that is worth mentioning is how not everyone follows Islam. Almost all religions have certain fasting periods prescribed. If this Ordinance were to be made applicable for all religions, there would hardly be a time when eating or drinking in public wouldn’t be a crime. Even if the ordinance were to be restricted to Abrahamic faiths, eating or drinking would be a criminal offence during March too, which is roughly the time when the Christian community observes fasts. Why does the ‘Ehtaram’ only apply to Islam?

Secondly, within Islam, a multitude of individuals are exempted from fasting: the old, the young, the unwell, pregnant, lactating and menstruating women. When religion allows them to eat and drink, irrespective of where they may be, are we implying that a man made ordinance that forbids them to do so is superior to the divine law?

Why has it become so important for the Muslim community to get respect by force? Does nobody understand that ‘Ehtaram’ cannot be attained by force? You just cannot compel someone to respect your religious ideology. You most certainly cannot compel them to respect you by force. The worst part is that individuals like the one I mentioned earlier have stooped so low, just to ensure that nobody eats during daytime in Ramadan. The individual clearly has lost the meaning of Ramadan since not only is he required to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual conduct but is also required to abstain from lying, deceiving and backbiting. Ironically, this man’s post which stated that he is not a hypocrite, proved otherwise which is something that can be applied to a lot of the modern day self appointed custodians of religion.