PESHAWAR: With the objective of promoting love, fraternity, respect and honour among people of a different faith, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) capital city’s Sikh community has continued its goodwill gesture of serving food among fasting Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan.
Every year, the community — scattered across different parts of the country, including Peshawar — arrange iftar and distribute food among Muslims observing their fasts with an aim to reflect the sentiments of reverence they had for Ramadan.
As Ramadan begins, the city’s Sikh residents step out to arrange iftar dinners and announce special discounts on their shops for fasting Muslims, apart from helping the poor fasting faithful by providing them edible goods at their doorsteps.
For ordinary citizens, the gathering of turban-wearing Sikhs around long plastic mats spread to serve food for fasting Muslims at places like Bolton Block of Lady Reading Hospital of Peshawar becomes very strange and incomprehensible and leaves them baffled.
Many faithful are found sharing their feeling of bewilderment after seeing Sikh youth standing in front of their doors to distribute food items to break fast.
“This year, within four days of Ramadan, we have distributed food items among 100 deserving Muslim families for providing them ease in fulfilment of their religious obligation,” said Jatinder Singh, Chairman Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of National Peace Council for Interfaith Harmony.
We have not started organising iftari for which we are currently looking for volunteers and will start as soon as arrangements are made, Jatinder added.
Each of the ration packs consists of essential items including cooking oil, rice, pulses, chickpea, beans, sugar and tea, he also said.
The price of ration has almost doubled this year from Rs4,000 to Rs7,500 because of inflation in the country. He said donations are coming from people belonging to different faiths and the second phase of distribution of food rations will be made soon.
We used to make arrangements for serving a big iftar for fasting Muslims, but COVID-19 affected the practice.
Last year, iftaries were only arranged on Friday in different areas of the city due to a shortage of volunteers, he said.
Apart from arranging iftar, we are also focusing on the provision of edible goods to fasting Muslims at their doorsteps, Jatinder stated.
“Being dwellers of the city for generations, we know who is in need of financial support in our locality so we extend them help. The objective behind this practice by Sikhs is to promote love, fraternity, respect and honour among people of different faiths,” he remarked, adding that the community has been living in Pakistan for generations and wanted to convey the message of mutual coexistence among its citizens.
Jatinder added that their Muslim neighbours and friends also respect the holy occasions of Sikhs by extending them good wishes.
Similarly, both Muslims and Sikhs attend occasions of happiness and bereavement from both sides to maintain the bond of unity, neighbourhood and humanity.
The measures taken by the city’s Sikh community are receiving commendations from people belonging to all walks of life, while netizens are sharing the news terming it as the beauty of Pakistan where people of different religions are coexisting in harmony with respect for each other.
Bilal Ahmad, a graduate from Peshawar who serves as a volunteer in the iftar dinner arranged by the Sikhs, said he shared these pictures on social media with pride showing how people of different faiths are living in conformity in Pakistan.
“Rach Ramadan I spare time and participate in such iftar dinners to acknowledge the good initiative taken by the Sikh community members in promoting respect and love in society by serving fasting Muslims,” opines Ahmad Khan, a young dweller of Peshawar.
“This is a very welcoming gesture from the Sikh community and is promoting the spirit of interfaith harmony,” comments Professor Abdul Ghafoor, a noted religious scholar and former director of Sheikh Zahid Islamic Centre and member of the Central Reut-e-Hilal Committee.
Talking to APP, Prof Ghafoor said such practices are winning the hearts of Muslims and will surely help in achieving the goal of mutual coexistence.