The humane face of mass iftars

And they are those who give food – in spite of their own need, to the needy, and the orphan, and the captive” (Holy Quran 76:8-9). Far from the glitzy settings offered by hotels and organised by wealthy corporations for their employees and business partners, the less privileged workers are also getting their own version of Iftar. These iftar gatherings are organised by good Samaritans aimed towards blue collar workers — labourers, construction workers and others, who failed to snatch an invitation to luxurious settings but felt fortunate that small initiatives of iftar meals were brought to their respective labour camps.

These organisers extend the face of charity and care as Allah has said in Surah Al-Balad, while describing the virtuous path that “And what would make you conceive what is that steep uphill road? [It is], the freeing of a slave or the feeding on a day of hunger an orphan relative or a needy person lying in the dust.” (90:12-16)
One such mass iftar was held at Misfah area in Al Ansab where a spree of construction works is currently on going. This part of Oman is densely populated with workers of various companies engaged in these construction works.
Nearly 2,000 workers tasted the mass iftar at the venue. Omani employees shared space with labourers from Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the open area where iftar delicacies were served.
“It’s our annual programme to conduct such mass iftars. We also offer iftars every day to those who are stuck in areas with no transportation or means of travel,” Anver Fulla, representative of Malayalam Oman Chapter, said.
“More than 2,000 labourers belonging to different companies shared meals with their friends at the venue. This is more than just an iftar. Here, we aim to bond and give attention and care for less privileged in the society,” he added.
Several socio-cultural personalities, social workers and other prominent figures from all the communities attended shared iftar meal with the labourers and other construction workers in Ansab.
“Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of going hungry each day and socio cultural associations are trying to feed them, eradicate poverty and penury. As Muslims we are supposed to be the guardians of this earth and all its creatures,” Sadanandan Edappal, Faisal TVK, and Ratheesh Pattiyath, members of the organising committee, said.
As the Prophet Mohammad (May Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said, “He is not a Muslim who goes to bed satiated while his neighbour goes hungry”.
Scholars said that no other religion puts greater emphasis on feeding the hungry as Islam does which is quite evident from the Holy Quran and Hadith which contain exhortations to feed the hungry and the indigent several times.
“From the very early revelations, the Quran exhorts the faithful to feed the orphans, the indigent and even the prisoners which is a clear example of how the Quran even gives rights to prisoners,” Abdulla Moulavi Purang, Dean of Islamic School in Muscat, said.
While corporate iftars are construed as part of high-level networking where business is talked about and appointments fixed over an evening meal, here at the labour camps, the less privileged workers are getting an opportunity to connect with faces of charity and care.

Kabeer Yousuf