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August 2009
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Muslim Perspective

Invite Deepak, Gita and Amit for Iftar
By M. Hanif Lakdawala
In India, there are thousands of non-Muslims who are attracted by the spiritual aspects of Ramadan and fast silently without declaring it to the world.

* Deepak Mandrekar, 23, a Network engineer has started preparing for Ramadan by fasting atleast once in 10 days, so that he is habituated to fasting during Ramadan. Last year for the first time in his life he fasted for the entire month.

* Gita 32, a school teacher, saves enough money the entire year, so that every day of Ramadan, she is able to arrange for Iftar for few Muslims during entire Ramadan

* Amit Bhede, 24, a, sales executive with a multi-national, starts offering namaz atleast once a day so that spiritually he is in a proper frame of mind to fast as well as offer namaz.

Muslims start preparing for Ramadan from the month of Rajab itself. In India, there are thousands of non-Muslims who are influenced by the spiritual aspects of Ramadan and they too start preparing for the holy month with same zeal. Non- Muslims find three aspects of the holy month, iftar, fasting and prayers most motivating. There are thousands of non Muslims who fast without declaring to the world.

Abhay Ramakrishnan, a chartered accountant has started accepting more Muslim clients before Ramadan so that he can have iftar with them. He feels a peculiar satisfaction while having iftar with Muslims. “I cannot fast the whole day, but I do keep half day fast and then join Muslim clients for iftar”, said Abhay. “Iftar is very special. I cannot describe the experience; all I can say is that its not just food, it's the unique experience which pulls me towards iftar”. Those non Muslims who have experienced the real iftar- not the public relation or political iftar- always want to re-live the experience.

Gupta Akash Kumar, a paan vendor, in south Mumbai, happened to visit a client's shop during iftar time last year and was persuaded to have iftar. “The food I ate, tasted different.

After the first iftar I confessed to my client that I love the food and occasion and I wanted to join them again and again. I insisted on paying my contribution, but my Muslim client refused. I am eagerly awaiting Ramadan as I get peace after offering prayers after iftar”, said Akash.

Dr Narayan Tejas, an eminent physician fasts during Ramadan. “ Fasting helps me in realize that the body has built-in mechanism to heal itself from all diseases. My experience of fasting has shifted my treatment objective from altering body function, by treating symptoms, to focusing on understanding and stimulating these natural "built-in" processes. Fasting is one very powerful tool to heal both physical as well as spiritual ailments”, he said.

Sneha Buvana, a dietician waits for Ramadan to hand over a perfect prescription to her Muslim as well as non Muslim patients. For her the greatest issue as a dietician is obesity. According to her it is not a disease, but is singularly the most significant disease and death determinant. She convinces her patients to control obesity through fasting by explaining to them the scientific reasons.

Prayers during iftar act as a powerful motivator for non Muslims. Daffu Sambhav a pharmaceutical wholesaler ensures that he joins his Muslim trader friends during iftar and in his own way offer prayers which give him the feeling of contentment. Daffu says that a prayer during Iftar helps him build a relationship with the Creator. “I eagerly await Ramadan for the iftar and the soothing feeling of prayers during iftar,” he said.