Mass Iftaar parties: A magnificent reflection of interfaith-harmony

Mass Iftaar parties: A magnificent reflection of interfaith-harmony

Fakhar Alam

PESHAWAR, Apr 15 (APP):Rawandar Singh, a 39-years old Sikh, is all smiles and exudes high spirit of sharing and compassion as he seeks solace in dolling out dates and ‘pakora’ among fasting Muslims during iftaar on returning home from his shop in Hashtnagri. Rawandar Singh wearing the traditional turban has been distributing packets of dates and other edible items among the fasting Peshawarties in Hastnagri bazaar since 2012.

His father Awtah Singh has started the noble practice and passed on to his son. “I feel inner peace and satisfaction while doing the noble practice in all 30 days of the month.” “The soothing moments of distributing iftaar’s items including dates, pakora, jalebi and others dishes still alive as fresh as today when I keenly observe my late father Awtah Singh handing over packets of iftaar food to Muslim brothers all along way from Hastnagri to Mohalla Jogan Ramdas in interior City,” Rawandar Singh told APP while distributing dates and pakora among the fasting Muslims ahead of Iftaar.

“I strongly believe in interfaith-harmony, love and brotherhood. Distribution of food in Ramazan is our mark of respect and admiration for our fasting Muslims’ brothers besides giving us inner peace and satisfaction,” Rawandar who is being helped by his son in dolling out of dates and pakora told the news agency. Dewa Singh and his son Tajindar Singh, who are associated with telecommunication business in Hastnagri Peshawar, said that inviting people of different faiths in iftaar parties in Pakistan send a strong message of love, brotherhood and friendship to the whole world.

“Without winning hearts and minds, we can’t come closer to each other and could not develop a society whose inhabitants enjoy equal rights and respect for each other’s beliefs,” they said. “Arranging iftaar parties and Ramzan camps for Muslims is not a new practice for us. Our forefathers did the same thing to express warmth, love and friendship to our Muslims brothers of Peshawar during Ramazan,” they said, adding they were serving iftaar’s foods to over dozens of fasting persons on daily basis and vowed to continue to do so in the remaining days of the month.

Roadside mass iftaar parties are being seen at Qisa Khwani, University Road, Lady Reading Hospital, Takhto Jumat Cantonment and Ramadas where philanthropists invite people of different faiths in an environment of sharing, care and friendship. The mass iftaar parties’ long sheets filled with dates, pakora, jalebi snacks, fruits, dahe bhalay, kacalo, rice, meat, paye, chapply kebab, polao, and sweet beverages get fully occupied by the passerby, laborers and people of different schools of thought.

Haroon Sarbdayal, a representative of Hindu community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a founding member of Pakistan Council of World Religions said that all prophets and founders of all religions had promoted peace, forgiveness, patience, love and tolerance through their universal teachings, actions and deeds. “We need to promote ‘acceptance’ along with ‘tolerance’ because the former is more effective in establishing durable peace, patience, and pluralism in the society.” He said Ramazan was the month of tolerance and patience in which Hindu community has started arranging iftaar parties for Muslim brothers in the province.

In Peshawar, he said, a grand iftaar party would be arranged in last Ashra of Ramazan where leaders of all religions would be invited. He said such noble practices were already being made in Sindh. Sarbdayal said misperceptions among followers of different faiths could be removed by enhancing interaction and dialogues among them. He suggested establishment of common study centers for followers of all religions where they could interact and understand each other’s beliefs and organize iftaar parties to bring people closer.

Highly appreciating the minorities’ goodwill gestures of arranging iftaar parties and ‘iftaar dastarkhwans’, he said these noble practices bring Muslims and minorities closer and enhance their understanding about each others’ faiths. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman Pakistan Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) and former Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar said that interfaith harmony means bringing peace and tranquility among people through positivity and mutual coexistence.

He said inviting each others for iftaar parties cement bonds of love, friendship and brotherhood among people of all religions including Islam and Christianity. He said, “The Madina Charter had provided complete and unprecedented religious freedoms to the followers of all religions and there was a need of constant debate and discussion on its different clauses and articles for education for ensuring lasting peace and harmony in world.”

Terming charity an important component of Islam, Qibla Ayaz said it was more significant in Ramazan and people should give it to reputable charity organizations having an excellent people’s service and clean accounts record. He said a list of reputable charities organisations was available in NECTA website, adding extra care should be made by people so that their charity can’t go into the wrong hands. The charitable initiatives such as arranging mass iftaar parties and Ramzan camps will not only strengthen the bonds of love and friendship but would also help bring people closer, he added.