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Ramadan is here once again. For some, Ramadan comes too soon and for some, it is awaited to come. Among the latter category, the primary motive for waiting for Ramadan is the desire to have ‘Extraordinary Blessings’ which are not possible in usual days.
For the ordinary believers, Ramadan marks the time when fasting brings more control and piety in the self. Prayers become regular among those who may otherwise be irregular. Additional prayers are offered as Taraweeh and for the more zealous ones, there are other prayers also. Recitation of the Holy Qua’an becomes a daily routine. The entire set up of Seher and Iftar, the fast in between, the night prayers, the morning/afternoon recitations, giving zakat and alms, doing more charity and being more careful, truthful and gentle creates a grand aura of pious feelings and feelings of being blessed.
Knowledge sometimes brings disquiet also. As children, we were told that the fast does not go to heaven and remains suspended between earth and heaven, if the Taraweeh are not prayed. Now, ‘the Ulema’ tell us it is neither ‘Farz’ nor ‘Sunnah’ left behind by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). They tell us that Taraweeh as an organized prayer was directed by the second Caliph Omar ibn al Khattab, more popularly known as Omar Farooq. The romance we had with Taraweeh as children and young adults, may be dimmed after this discussion.
Our business community also waits for Ramadan eagerly, even more than the pious ones. It is because Ramadan brings ‘Extraordinary Commercial Blessings’ for them, which is also today’s topic. The business community prepares well in advance for this month. Stocks are piled up and prices are jacked up.
There is nothing immoral about doing business around religious events. Allah has permitted doing commercial activity during Hajj. The season of Hajj is huge business, not just for Saudi Arabia, but all Muslim countries. Large number of people go to perform Hajj. Most of them get new clothes stitched for the event. Contingents from many countries get similar dresses for every member so that the group is easily distinguished. Pakistanis do not do so and prefer to be identified as the most scattered lot. Hajj, in summary, brings huge amount of turnover to clothing industry, Ihrams, Prayer mats, rosaries (Tasbeeh), shoes, chappals, scarves, abayas, money changers and so on. It is good for economy and it is good for businesses.
Ramadan commercial activity during the month is focused on groceries, fruits and eatables, for self and for charity. About ten days into Ramadan, the focus starts getting sharper on the EidulFitr coming at the end of Ramadan.
An average household spends above average money during Ramadan and on Eid. This is also acceptable, as long as they can afford it. Problem is the greed and the tendency to fleece displayed so openly and obscenely by the traders of all sizes and shades.
As mentioned earlier, trade always picks up on all religious events, and this is true for all religions. Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, Water Festival, New Lunar Year and so on, are all marked by heightened commercial activity. The prices are discounted, deals are announced, and people are tempted to buy more. Pakistani traders are a different story. They reduce quality, increase the prices and try to sell off the trash also during this time. Most shopkeepers sport a long beard, celebrate Ramadan with fervor, arrange Ramadan feasts at home and outside and do charity. At the same time, they are indulged in the worst kind of profiteering, hoarding and selling poor quality. In the same life, they have devised a great formula for ensuring prosperity in this life and ‘Jannah’ in the afterlife. Well, this is their thinking only.
Surah Al Mutaffifeen #83
“Woe to those who give less [than due],
Who, when they take a measure from people, take in full.
But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss.
Do they not think that they will be resurrected
For a tremendous Day –
The Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds?”
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