Why feeding well-fed and highly rich in iftars?
Kalam shows true spirit of Islam
When Abdul Kalam took over as President in 2002 it was the Ramadan (Ramjan) month in July-August. His secretary PM Nair told him that it was a regular practice for the President to host an iftar party. Kalam asked why he should host a party to people who are already well-fed and asked him to find out how much would be the cost. Nair told it would cost around Rs. 22 lakhs. Kalam asked him to donate that amount to a few selected orphanages in the form of food, dresses and blankets. The selection of orphanages was left to a team at Rashtrapathi Bhavan and Kalam had no role in it. After the selection was made, Kalam asked Nair to come inside his room and gave him a cheque for Rs 1 lakh. He said that he was giving some amount from his personal savings and this should not be informed to anyone. Nair was so shocked that he said “Sir, I will go outside and tell everyone. People should know that here is a man who not only donated what he should have spent but he is giving his own money also”. Kalam. though he was a devout Muslim. did not have Iftar parties in the years in which he was the President.
The President’s office said, in a statement: “The month of Ramzan has a special significance as the Quran Sharief was bestowed as guidance to humanity during this period. During this month, fasting with prayers is observed, Namaaz-e-Taraveeh (special prayers) are held and charity is done.” The President hoped that the holy month would usher in “peace, prosperity and harmony” in the country.
News media reported: In a subtle disapproval of the lavish Iftar parties that have become part of the Capital’s political culture in recent years, President A P J Abdul Kalam called off the one traditionally organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan during the holy month of Ramzan. Instead, the President called for “unity of minds of our people”.
In keeping with this spirit, his secretariat announced that the money that would have been spent for the Iftar would be sent for the welfare of orphanages, “so that the poor and the needy are helped during this holy month.”
The no-Iftar-party tone that year was set by leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi and followed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, Vajpayee held a “Press Day” lunch. The same day, HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi hosted a “Diwali Milan”, treating his guests to chaat and sweets from Old Delhi. Both Vajpayee and Gandhi are expected to organise “Eid Milan” after the fasting period is over.
Lubna Sarwath, social activist, who contested against Asaduddin Owaise in Hyderabad stated that rich Iftar parties hosted by the Government for the benefit of already rich and high class people is against the tenets of Quran, Constitution of India and also in no way connected to minority welfare. She also filed a PIL against ostentatious parties in the name of iftar in Hyderabad High Court which issued notice to Government to explain what kind of minority welfare is being attempted to achieve by hosting the iftar at public exchequer. Responding to allegations that funds of the Minority Welfare Department (MWD) were being used for lavish iftar parties for elite Muslims instead of the poor, the state said that it would ensure that the poorest of the poor Muslims benefit from the iftar parties hosted in 800 mosques across the Telangana state. “A grandiose dinner in the name of ‘iftaar party’ is thrown by the Telangana government for VVIPs, for the past 3 years, and thus funds meant for ‘minority welfare’ are neither going to minorities nor to welfare. The Chief justice and Chief Minister were also partaking from this lavish menu hosted from ‘minority welfare’ funds,” Lubna alleged.
The state’s counsel claimed that they would only be extending benefits to orphans, destitute, widows and poor Muslims. State government said further: “We will insist that the district collector and the relevant mosque committee screen the beneficiaries by putting a condition that only those with white ration cards and very poor must be given priority”.
The Court said: “You have to furnish us a list of beneficiaries, category wise, after Ramzan indicating how many destitutes, orphans, poor widows, etc., got the benefit through your parties and gifts.” Though the court did not stay the Iftar dinner hosted by state, its judicial activism extended to scrutinize the reality of the claimed benefit to poor Muslims.
This reveals that the people are watching you. If the rulers are like Abdul Kalam, there will be no need for Lubnas to file PILs and for High Courts to take them up. This way the judicial activism is expanding to implement the spirit of Islam also!