People who smoke, eat openly during Ramazan face 3-month imprisonment

Published: May 11, 2017
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Praying before the family sits down to break their Ramazan fast. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Praying before the family sits down to break their Ramazan fast. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs on Wednesday unanimously approved the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017 under which fine for the hotel owners – violating the Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance, 1981 – has been increased from Rs500 to Rs25,000.

People who will smoke or eat openly during Ramazan will be fined Rs500 along with 3-month imprisonment. TV channels or cinema houses that violate the law will be fined Rs500,000 or more.

The amendment bill was introduced by Senator Tanveer Khan in the Senate sitting held on January 16 and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs for further consideration.

During the meeting, Tanveer requested the committee to take strict action against people who violate the law during Ramazan. Earlier the committee members suggested closing down cinema houses for three hours early in the morning and later for three hours after Iftar during Ramazan.

Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Pir Amin Ul Hasnat Shah suggested that all the cinema houses across the country should remain closed throughout the holy month.

Issues related to Ruet-e-Hilal committee

Discussing the issues pertaining to Ruet-e-Hilal committee, the committee’s chairman Senator Hafiz Hamdullah urged the ministry to resolve the issue of moon sighting across the country. The ministry’s officials told the senator that they had discussed the issue with all the relevant provincial departments.

Government plans top Ruet-e-Hilal body meeting in Peshawar

It was suggested that the term of Ruet-e-Hilal committee should be made four years at federal, provincial and district levels. The committee should have two representatives each from all provinces and one representative each from federal capital, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

It was also suggested that directors general of Met Office and the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) as well as a representative from the ministry be also made part of the moon-sighting panel.

Pir Amin Ul Hasnat Shah informed the committee that the federal government had not allocated any dedicated budget for the Ruet-e-Hilal committee due to which its chairman along with its members were working without salary and perks since the committee was constituted in 1974.

He said several times the Ministry of Religious Affairs had raised this issue at various levels and forums but so far no one had paid any heed to it.

Letter to ministry: Stop Met predictions on moon sighting: Mufti Muneeb

“They believe that the role of the committee is not much as it only functions three to four times throughout the year. They forget that this committee has a major role to play as it announces most important religious events for the entire nation,” he said.

Shah said even when the chairman and committee members travel to other city on an official visit they only get air ticket and stay at a 2-star hotel. “They do not get any TA/DA. Meanwhile, they also do not have money to load credit in their cell phones to do office work,” he added.

He said 26 members of the committee are performing their duties under chairman Mufti Munibur Rehman, who has been performing his duties for the past 15 years.

The minister said currently there was no criterion for appointing/selecting a member for the committee. “Right now whoever applies for the membership becomes a member,” he said.

Shah suggested reducing the number of the committee members from 26 to 9. “The less the number of members, the easier it will be for the federal government to allocate budget for their salaries,” he said.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Nikki KHAN
    May 11, 2017 - 10:47AM

    who will come to punish them in Pakistan those will be increasing the prices during the month of Ramdan? any law or bill pleaseRecommend

  • Hmm
    May 11, 2017 - 10:58AM

    is it for minorities also ?Recommend

  • k
    May 11, 2017 - 11:16AM

    i admire those who fast, i admire those & wish to have fast, but IT IS DISGUSTING TO FORCE MINORITIES FROM EATING. STOP TORTURING & HUMILIATING MINORITIESRecommend

  • salman shareef
    May 11, 2017 - 2:42PM

    What about the Aftaar and Sehar transmissions which are seriously damaged IHTRAM-E-RAMZAAN. These shows should be banned during RamzanRecommend

  • CountryCircus
    May 11, 2017 - 3:20PM

    Brace yourself we will get indifference and no intolerance for minorities and let other live free comments from some people soon. Who themselves work on Eid in other countries without off but won’t mind that at all as that is the dedication to work. Peace :) Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    May 11, 2017 - 3:42PM

    why suprised ? Pakistan is Islamic republic and Islam is the national state religion. this is the most wide spread public festival . Those who wish to eat are free to do so in private. Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 11, 2017 - 3:46PM

    I always thought that there was no compulsion in religion …… but I suppose the committee members know better.Recommend

  • IMRAN AHMED
    May 11, 2017 - 4:25PM

    Enforcing “taqwa” cannot but make munafiqun, and only munafiqun.
    Hasan Nisar is correct – enforced “piety” is not going to turn out momineen, only resentful hypocrites or those who turn away.
    This is a bad decision for Islam.Recommend

  • Kazim Abidi
    May 11, 2017 - 4:42PM

    As being a muslim, this rule should not be imposed on non- muslims. If this is the case then same bill should also be passed for minority in their fasting month, and should be respected?Recommend

  • Ch. K.A. Nye
    May 11, 2017 - 7:09PM

    Cinemas are to be closed so that people can be forced to go to mosques. Someone should educate these Senators that people who don’t want to go to the mosque, won’t. Recommend

  • Purkho
    May 11, 2017 - 7:34PM

    this rule should not be imposed on non- muslims please! because we suffer in this regard so much. If this is the case then same bill should also be passed for minority in their fasting month.Recommend

  • Farhana
    May 12, 2017 - 9:01AM

    “The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Qur’an, 2:185, translated by Sahih International)

    The Qur’an gave his permission to those who are ill, pregnant and journeying. So, why impose a fine? Recommend

  • London Banker
    May 12, 2017 - 2:32PM

    As a Muslim I feel sad that we need laws to ensure people follow religion. Very odd.Recommend

  • Arif
    May 12, 2017 - 4:03PM

    This will bring more problems to Muslims living as minorities in non muslim countries. Who are already facing problems for
    AZAN – As they think it make noise pollution.
    MINAR IN THE MOSQUE – As it look like symbol of a missile.
    HIJAB – As symbol of religious identity.
    Now they will try to find excuse to ban fasting in RAMADAN.Recommend

  • Will
    May 12, 2017 - 4:29PM

    @Bunny Rabbit:
    This is hypocracy. Then you Shudnt be crying about burqa bans in europe either.Recommend

  • Agha
    May 12, 2017 - 5:44PM

    If you have to extract “Ehtraam” through forcing people what kind of “Ehtraam” do you really want? This is insane. Respect has to be earned not forced out through legislation. You are basically asking OTHERS to behave to cater to your FEELINGS. Have you ever even thought about OTHERS feelings. I bet those who support this don’t even have a clue when minorities have their fasts.Recommend

  • Hassan Raza
    May 12, 2017 - 6:11PM

    This country is headed in a dangerous direction. Quaid e azam must be rolling in his grave. The whole point of ramzan is to test and exercise ones self control, so that us muslims have the capacity to be strong should such harsh times ever befall us where we are unable to obtain food, water, or any other worldly necessities. So that we remember to control ourselves when we feel the urge to sin, an urge every man and woman on this planet will naturally feel in their life time. The point is not to starve aimlessly all day long and subjugate those whose religious inclinations differ in order to make the fast easier on ourselves. Ramzan, just like religion as a whole is a personal quest for betterment, not a quest taken to avoid monetary punishments and jail time. There is no compulsion in religion for a reason. This reason is because Islam is not a religion to be authoritatively imposed on people, Islam itself deserves better representation than that. Islam does not need muslims who practice to avoid penalties. It needs muslims who practice because they understand the purpose behind what they practice. It is a religion of peace, tolerance and acceptance AND THESE ARE THE REASONS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD AND WILL join the fold of Islam and adhere to its principles, not because they were forced to do so because some law makers couldnt stand to see people eat while being hungry themselves. This law, in every way, hurts rather than helps the religion and the country we love.Recommend

  • Mrs Waheed
    May 13, 2017 - 7:01PM

    Dont know what the hullabaloo is about. People who dont fast can eat indoors period.Recommend

  • Faisal
    May 15, 2017 - 7:21PM

    @k:
    Minorities and Muslims who cannot fast due to valid reasons are FREE to eat in private. The bill is about someone eating and drinking in public. Behind closed doors isn’t a problem and has never been a problem. The same rulings apply in numerous Muslim countries.Recommend

  • Farooq
    May 16, 2017 - 11:10PM

    Try to understand the law, it restrict only eating n smoking openly, in the streets on the road sides . Law doesn’t concern any person who eats or smokes privately in their houses or office rooms either minority or majority Recommend

  • Andrew
    May 20, 2017 - 10:54AM

    There quite conveniently isn’t any mention of the penalty of overpricing and low quality products. It seems that is okay to openly cheat, lie and extort not to mention charge exorbitant rates for almost anything and everything with no mention of any sort of penalty but it is a crime to eat in public. I agree that eating is public is being disrespectful to the those who are fasting but why isn’t there any mention of penalizing those who charge over and above the normal rates in the Holy Month of Ramadan. Where is the justice and fairness in that. The question that comes to my mind first and foremost is what to do if a person isn’t well and is about to pass out. I suppose we could be imprisoned for trying to help that person or may be the person is going to be imprisoned for accepting the timely help. Why are the laws of this land only created to curtail freedom of speech and criticism or to penalize those already oppressed further. Recommend

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