Iftar ‘Dastarkhwan’ brings people of all faiths closer in KP

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PESHAWAR
With the start of last Ashra of Ramazanul Mubarak in Pakistan, the people of all faiths including Muskims and Sikhs started arranging Aftar Dastarkhwan for underprivileged and poor fasting people as a goodwill gestures.
Besides Muslims, the minorities including Sikhs, Hindus and Christians also serve food as a goodwill gesture among fasting people and underprivileged in Peshawar.
It is aimed to promote fraternity, respect and honor among people of different schools of thoughts in Ramazan and bring people closer irrespective of caste and religion.
The Sikh community living in different parts of the country including Peshawar arranged Iftari (serving of food for breaking fast) and food distribution among fasting Muslims with the aim of reflecting the sentiments of reverence they had for the holy month of Ramazan.
As the last ashra of Ramzan begins, Sikh residents in Peshawar come out for arranging iftar dinners, announcing special discounts on their shops for fasting Muslims besides helping the poor fasting faithful by providing them edible goods at their doorsteps.
Exudes with high spirit of sharing and compassion, Rawandar Singh, a 40-years old Sikh, is all smiles as he seeks solace in dolling out dates and Pakora among fasting Muslims during Aftar on returning home from his shop in Hashtnagri.
Wearing the traditional turban, Rawandar was seen distributing packets of dates and other edible items among the fasting Muslims in Hastnagri bazaar here Tuesday.
Rawandar’s father Awtah Sindh had started the noble practice and passed on to his son since 2012. “I feel inner peace and satisfaction while doing the noble practice in Ramazan.”
“The soothing movement of distributing Aftar’s items including dates, Pakora, Jalebi and others food dishes are still alive as fresh as today when I keenly observe my late father Awtah Singh handing over packets of Aftar 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 fasting Muslims ahead of Iftar.
“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 APP.
Dewa Singh and his son Tajindar Singh, who are associated with telecommunication business in Hastnagri Peshawar said inviting people of different faiths in Aftar parties here sends a strong message of love and brotherhood to 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 belief,” they said.
Arranging Aftar 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 are serving Aftar’s foods to over dozens of fasting persons on daily basis and vowed to continue to do so in remaining days of holy month.
Roadside Aftar parties arranged by Muslims philanthropists are being seen at Qisa Khwani, University Road, Lady Reading Hospital, Takhto Jumat Cantonment and Ramadas where philanthropists invite people of different faiths for joint Aftar parties in an environment of sharing and care.
The long sheets filled with food, dates, pakora, jalebi snacks, fruits and sweet beverages get fully occupied by passerby, labourers and other segments of the society irrespective of caste, colour and creed.
Many faithfuls are found sharing their feeling of happiness over seeing Sikh youth standing in front of their doors for distribution of food items to break fast.
“In Ramzan, we have distributed food items in over 200 deserving Muslim families for providing them ease in fulfillment of their religious obligation”, said Jatinder Singh, Chairman Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of National Peace Council for Interfaith Harmony.
Each of the ration pack consists of essential items including cooking oil, rice, pulses, chick pea, beans, sugar and tea, he added.
The price of ration has almost double this year from Rs. 4500 to Rs. 7500 because of inflation. He said donations are coming from people from diversified faiths and second phase of distribution of food rations will be completed ahead of Eidul Fitr.
Apart from arranging Iftari we are also focusing on provision of edible goods to fasting Muslims at their doorsteps, Jatinder told APP.
“Being a dweller of city since generations, we know who is in need of financial support in our locality so we extend them help.”
“The objective behind this practice by Sikhs is to promote love, fraternity, respect and honor among people of different faiths and strengthen bonds of friendship with muslims,” remarked Jatinder Singh.
“We are living in this country from generations and wants to convey the message of mutual coexistence and brotherhood among its citizens”, he continued
Jatinder said our Muslims neighbours and friends also mark respect to holy occasions of Sikhs by extending goods wishes.
Similarly both Muslims and Sikhs attend occasions of happiness and bereavement from both sides to maintain the bond of unity, neighbourhood and humanity.
The measures taken by Sikh community of Peshawar are receiving commendations from people and social media users are displaying these news as beauty of Pakistan where people of different religions are living in harmony and respect of each other.
Khayam Khan, a graduate from Peshawar who serves as volunteer in iftar dinner arranged by Sikhs, said he share these pictures on social media with a pride that how people of different faiths are living in conformity in our country.
“In each Ramzan I spare time and participate in such iftar dinners to acknowledge the good initiative taken by Sikh community members,” he said.
Haroon Sarbdayal, a representative of Hindu community in Khyber Pakthunkhwa 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 teachings, actions and deeds.
He said misperceptions among followers of different faiths could be removed by enhancing interaction and dialogues among all religious communities.
“We need to promote ‘acceptance’ instead of ‘tolerance’ because the former is more effective in establishing durable peace, patience, tolerance and pluralism in a prosperous society.”
He said Ramazan is the month of tolerance and patience in which Hindu Community has started arranging Aftar parties for their Muslim brothers in KP.
In Peshawar, he said a grand Aftar party would be arranged in last days of Ramazan where leaders of all religions would be invited.
He said such noble practices were already in progress in Sindh province which has a considerably higher Hindu population than Khyber Pakthunkhwa.
He suggested establishment of common study centres for followers of all religions where they could interact and understand each other’s religion and organzing of Aftar parties to bring people closer.
Hifazat Ullah Khan, Chairman Islamic and Arabic Studies, Islamia College Peshawar told APP that the Muslims seek forgiveness and mercy in this holy month besides having a blessed night of Lalatul Qadar.”
Highly appreciating the minorities’ goodwill gestures of arranging Aftar parties and Aftar Dastarkhwans’ for Rozadars, he said these noble practices brings Muslims and minorities closer and increased their understanding about each others’ faiths.
He said inviting each others for Aftar parties cement bonds of love and brotherhood among people of all religions including Islam and Christianity.
The principles of interfaith harmony and mutual coexistence were clearly set out in Madina Charter (Meesaq-e-Madina) and Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s historic address on August 11, 1947 to the members of constituent assembly and 1973 constitution.
“The Madina Charter had provided complete and unprecedented religious freedoms to followers of all religions and there is a need of constant debate and discussion on its different clauses and articles for education and guidance of all imperative for lasting peace in the society.”
Terming charity an important component of Islam, he said it is more significant in Ramazan and people should give it to reputable charity organisations having an excellent service and clean accounts record.
He said a list of reputable charities organisations was available in NECTA website, adding extra care should be made so that their charity can’t go into the wrong hands.