Ramazan is the ninth month of Islamic year. It is a holy month which brings lot of blessings of Allah Almighty. In this month Muslims are expected to demonstrate self-control, humility and submission to the will of Allah. It is a month which teaches love with humanity and care for deserving and poor. It highlights Muslim brotherhood and special feeling of closeness. The month teaches us to give alms and charity to poor. But unfortunately we see a dichotomy in this holy month. Pakistan is an Islamic state with more than 98 percent of Muslim population. Muslims living here can be categorized in two different classes. The first class which is of course in majority observe this month with full religious zeal and zest. They do worship and try to seek the blessings of Allah Almighty. They observe fast and do charity in this month according to their capacity. But the second class which is in minority takes Ramazan as a month of business. These people can be found in form of hoarders and profiteers and over pricing retailers. Instead of giving discounts and special; offers to their fellow Muslim brothers and sister and to seek the blessings of Allah, they exploit people’s needs. They hoard things to create artificial shortage and then sell those items on high price.
It is observed every year that in Ramazan the prices of different eatables, fruits, vegetables, and other essential items have reached beyond the purchasing power of a common man. This year is no more different than the previous years. A record increase has been witnessed in the price of regularly used vegetables including garlic, tomato, onion, potato etc and also in fruits during the last two weeks. The price of flour increased by 5 to 8 rupees per kg, chicken which was previously near Rs 200 is being sold at around Rs 240 to 260. Yogurt which is used in almost every house at sehri increased five rupees per kilogram. The state of fruits is also no more different. Every year, before the starting of this month, government makes huge claims of keeping check and balance over hoarders and overpricing but every year it fails badly and leave people on the mercy of these profiteers.
This year the country was already in the grip of hyperinflation, and the situation became worse in this holy month. People are worried that how they can come up with the overpricing and inflation with the low incomes. Although the Punjab government has established special Ramazan Bazars but consumer say those prices are still high and some fruits available are below standard like bananas. Others say that no doubt it is a good effort but the government should control price hike because one can’t visit these bazaars regularly as these are located at some quite distance. Miss Noreen was of the view, “What we save in these Ramazan Bazars, give in as fare of taxi or rickshaw.” Mr Qasim who is a resident of Johar Town was complaining about hawkers and vendors said, “They charge money according to their own will and there is no check and balance on them.”
Ladies who run kitchens look depressed because of sky rocketing prices. Mrs Tariq who came to buy things at Ramazan Bazar expressed her worry in the following words. “It has become difficult for me and many other middle-class women like me to run their kitchens due to a sudden increase in the prices of vegetable and other items. We don’t get extra budget for Ramazan then how can we meet this price escalation. The government must take some concrete step to stop further price escalation during Ramadan.”
Mr Jameel who was purchasing fruits for Iftar at a local market was of the view, “These sellers want to become rich over a night. For them Ramazan is a money making month.” Some people express extreme views about profiteers. Abid Ali suggested, “People should boycott the food items and fruits practically in case of rise in prices. They should teach lesson to these overcharging retailers and hoarders.”
These moneymakers should not exploit the needs of people. Islam is a complete code of life and provides guidance in every field of life. It has forbidden hoarding and overpricing. There are strict warnings for those people who hoards goods to create shortage and for those who over charge and exploit the needs of people. This is a dichotomy in this holy month that some people do charity and others make money. Some people try to seek the blessings of Allah and other invites His wrath by disobeying Him and his orders. Some people are observing fast and practicing to tame their lives according to the teaching of Islam and some are completely ignoring the teachings of Islam.