Ramadan, the sacred month of the Muslims is about to set in. Across the Muslim world, amid performance of Siam with due religious solemnity, the appeal and significance of this month is distinct. Attaining spiritual perfection and purity of soul through a month long practice of self-restraint and sacrifice is the teaching of this holy month. Otherwise it becomes merely a rite of duration of fasting for some hours. For its inlaying spiritual significance, Ramadan is called the spring season for harvesting divine blessings through religious worship. This is the month when the holy Quran was descended upon our prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Even the bloodshed people from war-torn Palestine, Kashmir, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan embrace Ramadan wholeheartedly with due veneration for earthly and after-world salvation.
In our boyhood and youth, supply of food and attire during this holy month was not as abundant as it is now. Thanks to the open market economy of globalization that has helped flood our market with variety of foods and attires. But where is that inexplicable joy we would feel to see the rise of the moon of Shawal on the evening preceding the Eid day from an open field or on the roof? Where is that thrill of concealing the lone new shirt bought by grand-parents from the notice of friends? Where is that fraternity that renewed mutual bond regardless of socio-economic status?
Not only from the religious but also from the socio-economic point of view, the importance of this gracious month is immeasurable. Society that receives and applies the eternal inward training of Ramadan can ensure more disciplined, balanced and harmonious co-existence of its people. The way the month gains motion in trade and commerce surrounding Iftar culture and Eid-ul-fitr injects fresh blood and energy into the veins of national economy. As part of an attempt to abstain from all possible sins and seek mercy of almighty, people of every occupation try to implement the teachings of Ramadan in their familial and professional life. Business community is not exception to this. Business community in Muslim states including the Middle East are often heard to maintain a check and balance policy and thus they abstain from hiking price and offer discount on regular commodities to help people observe this month more peacefully.
Bangladesh, one of the Muslim majorities also observes Ramadan with due solemnness and spirit. But in our country spiritual training of the holy month reflects little in some activities. Rather the month becomes more ceremonious amid noveau-riche spree of some dishonest business syndicates' tendency to capitalize our pious and God-fearing innocent people's faith on religion. Doubling price of almost every regular essential, these syndicates force people with limited income fasting for all day long pant for breath. These helpless people are virtually kept hostage to the whims of those thugs and bound to cut their bags to size. On the other hand taking advantage of increasing demand for readymade food, unscrupulous traders flood makeshift shops with unhygienic and adulterated food during this time in utter denial of public health as well as Ramadan's teaching of self-purification. Their tendency to becoming rich overnight prevents their conscience dictate them. Media and Facebook regularly brings forward the malign they pursue to cheat with innocent fasting people. Appalling news of using flesh of forbidden (haram) animal in Islam in preparing fried rice and biriyani and seize of forbidden animals by law enforcing agencies from different parts of the country ran the headlines in the previous years.
Promises and assurances from government's concerned authority ahead Ramadan to keep regular commodities under reasonable price are belied. From kitchen market to livestock everywhere everything sells at cut-throat price beyond the purchasing capacity of common people. Practical market situation evinces government's total failure and helplessness in combating those thugs.
With the Eid-ul-Fitr approaching nearer, a naked competition of show off among the riches manifests how uneven a socio-economic infrastructure we are living in. Every year Eid-ul-Fitr leaves reminding us that demographic dividend of our national income is concentrated in the hands of a few ultra -rich. Ramadan's teaching of frugality fall flat to their luxury. For Eid shopping their priority for foreign markets dispatches a huge amount of our national economy from country. How much is it justified from the moral point of view to buy shari or lehenga that costs around Tk. 1 lakh in a country where news of people being stampeded during collection of Zakat and appropriation of zakat fund by dishonest politicians and UP chairman runs in the national dailies?
Islam introduced zakat (tax) system to remove ballooning economic inequality between the poor and the reach in order to maintain a sound socio-economic structure. Proper disbursement of zakat can contribute to alleviate extreme poverty of a nation.
The writer is a poet