A national shame
I read a report in the media a few days back saying a member of the Sikh community, Naranjan Singh who runs a grocery shop in Jumrud bazar in the KP, sells provisions without any profit margin during the month of Ramazan every year.
Reportedly talking to Geo New he said that people could earn money during 11 months of the year but there was an opportunity to volunteer and help others in Ramazan.
I have yet to see and hear a Muslim trader, businessman or a shop keeper showing that kind of magnanimity and concern for the fellow country-men.
Profiteering and hoarding are indeed anti-Sharia acts. The Last Prophet (SAWW) said that only sinful people commit to hoarding wealth and goods.
When somebody buying food from the market, saves it for the period of forty days and later sells it back to the market at higher price, it means he has committed a great sin. Even though he gives parts or whole benefit as charity, it will never redeem his sin.
At another place, the Holy Prophet (SAWW) said somebody who hoards eatables or other goods for forty days, will be prohibited from entering Jannah (paradise).
Although our traders and businessmen earn exorbitant profits during the whole year by controlling the supply chain through cartels and monopolies without any scruples, it assumes unbearable intensity during the holy month of Ramazan.
Prices of everything from vegetables to all the food items start snowballing making the life of the people miserable. As against this when X-Mas comes, prices of all things are drastically cut in the Western countries.
It is really a national shame that the things that should have been prevalent in a Muslim society like ours are being practised by the non-Muslims. They are far ahead of us in regards to humanitarian values.
The manipulation of the prices of sugar and flour by the mafia which not only caused spiral in their prices but also resulted in their non-availability in the market is quintessential of this unscrupulous pursuits of the industrialists, businessmen and traders.
The people have really suffered due to the hydra-headed inflation that has gripped the country.
Granted that the situation is also attributable to some extent to the economic steps taken by the government to rectify the economic maladies as well as the impact of international forces and the pandemic but the major blame goes to un-Islamic and corrupt practices of the business community and the unscrupulous elements
It is, however, heartening to note that the government has shown the heft to take on the sugar and flour mafias and taken multiple measures to check the uncontrolled hike in the prices of the goods.
It took administrative action to set-up Ramadan bazars all over the country to ensure supply of food items and vegetables to the masses at cheaper prices and also provided substantial subsidy on food items through its chain of utility stores throughout the country, with a view to lessening the impact on the budget of the poorer section of the society, which is appreciable to say the least.
Yes it is the responsibility of the government to promote well-being of the people and lessens their economic woes but at the same time it is also incumbent upon the public, particularly the businessmen and traders to be mindful of their religious duty towards the fellow country-men and refrain from undesirable business and trade practices. No policy of the government can create the desired effect without their cooperation.
They need a serious re-thinking regarding their role in the society and the things they should refrain from indulging in while looking after their business interests.
Our society unfortunately is not only afflicted with the phenomenon of hoarding and profiteering through manipulation of the market forces by the mafias, but there is an overall deterioration of the moral values leading to corrupt and criminal pursuits.
Resultantly many unscrupulous elements in their greed and craze for earning easy money and becoming millionaire overnight, are also recklessly engaged in producing spurious drugs, adulteration, counterfeiting the branded products to defraud the people endangering the health of the population.
PCSIR from time to time comes out with the revelations that the mineral water marketed by many companies is sub-standard and not consumable.
Similarly we daily come across reports of milk prepared from chemical ingredients being marketed throughout the country.
In my estimation those who indulge in such practices are enemies of the society and the country. So are the ones who produce spurious drugs and sell adulterated stuff to earn profits.
They deserve no mercy and must be made to suffer for their crimes to deter the would-be followers of that path.
But the dilemma is that they thrive in their dirty pursuits because of the corruption in the government departments and agencies supposed to check such practices.
The sufferers in the end are the people in terms of danger to their health and loss of money that get siphoned off to these parasites.
The government no matter how well intentioned and committed it is, cannot rectify the situation on its own.
It needs the cooperation and determination of the entire society to bring an end to the inhuman and un-Islamic practices that are rampant in business and trade circles as well as in identifying those involved in playing with the health of the nation.
Apart from administrative and legal measures to be taken by the government, the media and Ulema also have a pivotal role in this regard by rattling the conscience of the mafias and those ruining the health of the masses and inculcate the fear of God in their hearts.
Because the situation cannot improve until the thinking and perception in this regard are transformed.
— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.