ISLAMABAD — For needy Pakistanis, free meals offered every days at sunset for iftar during the holy month of Ramadan is the only way to make ends meet for their families.
“Usually there is one bread earner who has to feed a family of say 10 people," Organizer Abdul Razak Bhatti told Voice Of America.
"So, obviously their basic needs are not met and then there are rising electricity bills, natural gas bills and other such matters that it becomes extremely difficult for the family to live on the fewer resources.”
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started this year on Monday, June 30, in Pakistan.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor.
In Pakistan, scores of free food points are across country, where Iftar and Suhoor are offered to the poor and travelers during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mohammad Amir, who works at a tailor shop, is one of those who saves money for his family and children by eating for free.
Though it might be embarrassing for him to sit in an open area and wait for charity food, he is forced sometimes to get free meals because his income is not enough to buy food for his entire family.
Asad Ullah, who works as a security guard, is another Pakistani who visits the free food camp every Ramadan.
He hopes the money he saves will help him buy new clothes for his children.
Serving a large number of Pakistani poor, the idea of free iftar meals was praised by rights activists.
Yet, some had reservation over the government rule on sustaining those poor.
“I feel that it is absolutely shameful that in the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan we have this kind of need and such kinds of poverty, rising levels of poverty that we need now lower middle and the poor to go to the philanthropy and charity," Tahira Abdullah, an Islamabad-based human rights activist, said.
"Do you think that those who line up along streets and avenues for free food in the evening every Ramadan have any shred of self-respect and dignity left? Nothing.”
In Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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