As I was sitting in my lounge, penning down my grocery shopping list for the weekend, I realised that the month of Ramadan was not too far and probably in a week or two I’d have to make a more comprehensive list of grocery supplies for the Holy month. My ever wandering mind drifted back to those good old days in Pakistan where we enjoyed the blessings of Ramadan with our loved ones- mum waking us up for Sehri, being constantly aware of “no backbiting” in office, Taraweeh, those deliciously mouth-watering Iftar by mum! Oh and how can I forget those Iftar trips to various restaurants!
The Drop-Dead deals
The Iftar trips had started some 12-13 years back for me when the Pizza Hut- all you can eat banners- had taken Karachi by storm. I think that Ramadan, I visited Pizza Hut twice for the “all you can eat” deal, and now when I think back to that day- I laugh at myself! All I had that day were perhaps three slices of Pizza, some salad, and perhaps, two glasses of cold drink. And, I hardly got a place to offer my Maghrib prayers that day. So much for the tempting all you can eat!
The magic in 99
And then, it started to become a habit, more of a hobby, to explore the “all you can eat” deals of various restaurants. It wasn’t just me- school, college, and even at work, there were always discussions about where we would go out for Iftar. Just like branded lawns, this started to become a trend. And, the prices kept going up Rs. 299 then Rs. 499, and now perhaps, as high as Rs. 1499 with each restaurant, offering a different variety in its so-called “all you can eat”. And, we kept encouraging these restaurants to keep hiking their prices. Trust me- when I say that there may be over a hundred restaurant offering Iftar deals in Karachi alone, but still they are met with an unlimited demand. What we fail to realise is that no matter how much we eat at these Iftar buffets, the restaurant still manages to earn more than 100% profit on it.
Go on a diet and donate!
However, thinking rationally- if on an average I am spending Rs. 1000 per visit, and I am going out thrice, that means I’ve thrown away money that could have fed a poor family of four for not three days, but for a whole month!
Looking at the value for money, we get at these Iftar expeditions; I’d say they are a bit too extravagant. Moreover, in order to try out each delicacy offered at these buffets, we tend to waste a lot of food as well. Spending so much, and then ending up wasting food too; isn’t that quite contrary to the purpose of Ramadan and fasting?
Allah (swt) has said in the Quran,
“…and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)” (Al-A’raf 7:31)
“And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaytan (Devil – Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:2 -27)
Need I say more? Let’s imagine that perhaps if each of us decides to forgo at least one such Iftar trips this Ramadan, and I mean just one (I know it’s pretty hard to give up on the whole institution of “Iftar deals”), and donate the amount you would have spent on that lavish meal to someone who needs it. It could be anyone- your maid, sweeper, a peon at your office, anyone you believe would make good use of that money; and if, you are not comfortable giving the money, you could perhaps buy them some basic grocery for their household. Think of the difference it would make, the sense of fulfilment you would feel!
Surely, our religion has made Zakat obligatory for this very purpose; however, modesty and helping the needy has always been encouraged by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Quran. Moreover, if spending Rs. 1000 to help someone could save you from some accountability on that day, I believe it’s not a bad deal!
Hence, this Ramadan lets change the trend! Let us not be too extravagant in our behaviour. Re-think the restaurant trips, and strive to bring a change. Who knows giving up one such trip, and feeding a hungry stomach might bring so many Duas, happiness and abundance to you. Insha’Allah!