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Ramazan Mubarak under Corona’s Siege

Mahboob Qadir

The writer is a retired Brigadier. He has extensive experience in dealing with UN matters related to strategic policy on countering violent extremism.

This time Ramazan is different. It is quiet, subdued, and lacks its traditional luster. It also got a confused reception by the faithful who are not sure how does the administration really want them to observe various elements of Ramazan including fasting, Taraweeh, Iftar, essential shopping, workplace precautions, prayers in the mosques and so on.
While predator corona prowls the streets, market places, mosques, offices, hospitals, and homes with a sense of entitlement if not victory, people sulk, sneak, and at times defy preventive measures.
Amidst this pandemic dust and smoke, there are people who believe in and encourage others to fight this evil virus literally barehanded. In fact, some of the renowned maulanas preach to ignore the threat altogether. They trash all research being done, shun sensible precautions, insist on social and religious gatherings, and strongly believe in Umma conspiracy theories making the rounds on rumor grapevines, social media, and from the mosque podiums.
Then there is a typically negatively inclined section of people who go on making illogical comparisons, deliberately promote violations of social distancing by encouraging crowding like Friday prayers, Taraweeh, Tablighi congregations, and visiting dense markets. If asked why to pose as if we’re forced to, or tend to show vengeful defiance so that massive infection should take place. This is simply sadistic and homicidal.
One knows of a social media ‘mother’ who tried to whip up religious emotionalism by saying her son came back tears rolling down his cheek because the mosque was locked out for Friday prayer. When reminded that she might worry more for her son’s health than his prayers. Her response was typical and represented just the vile category that is bent upon setting up a catastrophe. She said, ‘In markets, there is no threat of Corona, why in mosques?’ She might have a point here but the suicidal undertones are clear.
This is the fatal sentiment which men like Mufti Taqi Usmani, Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman and their legion of ulema are supporting and promoting. This is where the government must come down with clarity and firmness and stop pleasing the murderous mullah. The state must stop sleepwalking over the hairy fairy holiness path and get down to hard and real welfare.
Forget about the smart lockdown and other fancy notions. COVID infection in Pakistan has reached a dangerous tipping point. Once it breaks out it will be utterly uncontrollable and could result in thousands upon thousands of deaths anyway. Therefore the refrain that the poor will die of hunger does not hold much water.
Rise and tell people to tighten their belts, brace for a total lockdown, impose curfew urgently for at least two weeks and deal with the offenders ruthlessly, religious social, or sentimental considerations absolutely notwithstanding. Time is running out, we have to make haste before nature begins to harvest lives.
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