Holier than thou

With changing times, much of what I observer around me is indulgence, hypocrisy and superficial religious fervour


Tanuj Garg July 01, 2015
The writer has been in top media and entertainment corporations in Bollywood for over a decade and can be found on twitter @tanuj_garg

Come Ramazan and a fistful of Muslim friends slip into different modes. Those who do not fast migrate to London or New York to avoid scrutiny by the moral police. Those who fast do so merely as a formality. Fasting is practiced because it needs practising, and not because it stems from the heart. There is a third category that turns puritanical. As if to make up for being less than stellar Muslims during the rest of the year, they redeem themselves by becoming ludicrously holier-than-thou, so much so that you want to disown them. The month, ostensibly meant to be about hardship and restraint, is now about excessive, conspicuous consumption, empty religious rhetoric and false morality.

Though this is by no means a generalisation, I am relaying what I have observed first-hand and can vouch for. After waking up grudgingly for sehri, they go to bed following fajr, sleep through the day and wake up around noon (or even after that) only to evade hunger pangs, thereby offsetting the harshness of a real fast. After a few hours of listless working, begins the maddening countdown to iftar. The famished souls descend like hungry wolves on an obscene smorgasbord of culinary delights at home or in a restaurant. The feasting and partying continue till late; in some cases, followed by a grand breakfast, before the fasting resumes in the early hours.

Those who are abroad and fast, visit clubs and bars, and even smoke and drink at night. But to curtail the guilt they’ll have just a peg or two, instead of binge drinking. The paranoia about getting snapped in a picture that features even a stray glass of wine in the same frame is intensely amusing. Fearing a possible backlash, friends often ask me not to photograph them against a bar, while women in short dresses will caution me to crop the picture at the right point before uploading it on social media. Many I know are not even particular about sexual abstinence. Unarguably there is a pious section that observes Ramazan in an appropriate manner, but with changing times, much of what I appear to be observing around me is indulgence, hypocrisy and superficial religious fervour.

Too much hot air

Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change (it’s the first that I’ve heard of such a portfolio), Senator Mushahidullah Khan has accused the coal-powered plants in Rajasthan (India) of being instrumental in causing the blistering heatwave in Karachi that killed thousands. He added that if the trans-boundary pollution was proven, he would escalate the matter to the UN.

I think the only hot air is the one that’s coming from the senator. He is yet another addition to the brigade of obsolete persons entrusted with ministerial posts. Concocting imaginative conspiracy theories and playing lame blame games is obviously widespread among Pakistan’s geriatrics. Is this what they mean by out-of-the-box thinking? Blame India for the heatwave, J&K flooding, cross-border terrorism and internal terrorism. While they’re at it, may as well add Karachi’s acute water shortage and electricity failure to the blame-India list. Sorry, but this unintentional stand-up comedy is getting a tad too predictable. Blame the US for drones, war on terror, not providing aid on time, and even intelligence failure that allowed Osama bin Laden to live in Pakistan, allegedly undetected for years. Janaab, you mustn’t duck when the chips go down. This government must take accountability for its abysmal failure in mitigating people’s sufferings rather than conning itself to believe that every failure must be someone else’s problem.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.

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COMMENTS (6)

Amina Naqvi | 5 years ago | Reply
Blockquote "Though this is by no means a generalisation, I am relaying what I have observed first-hand and can vouch for. Those who are abroad and fast, visit clubs and bars, and even smoke and drink at night. But to curtail the guilt they’ll have just a peg or two, instead of binge drinking. The paranoia about getting snapped in a picture that features even a stray glass of wine in the same frame is intensely amusing. Fearing a possible backlash, friends often ask me not to photograph them against a bar, while women in short dresses will caution me to crop the picture at the right point before uploading it on social media. Many I know are not even particular about sexual abstinence. "
Mr. Garg you are a Bollywood Liberal and taking a page from your book, "this is by no means a generalization" but most of your liberal friends do not know anything about integrity or morality, nor do they understand the word NO or SACRIFICE. You expect everyone to follow in line and accept the practice of partying and sexual freeness because you think it is acceptable. Not everyone shares the same sentiment. Not everyone thinks of Bollywood as a God, especially the educated. Let me give you a clue as to how things really are as I live in London and was educated in the United States. Faith is NOT a FORMALITY. Halal shops are busy by day but restaurants are not. Many restaurants make separate Ramazan hours because they know business will be slow and are happy to do so. By night, we go to Masjid, have friends over for dinner or invite non-Muslims into our homes because they are our friends and neighbors. One year my MSA, Muslim Students Association, ate with the Jewish Students Association. We talked about the world, we shared in our commonalities, faith yes but also upcoming exams. During the High Holidays the JSA returned the favor. It is a special time because it is NOT A FORMALITY, rather it is FROM THE HEART. To those who drink we do not judge, nor do we care, we are focused on self and faith. Perhaps you should step back from Bollywood and see what life of an ordinary, hard working family is like and write about your experiences. Maybe then you will not come across in the naive, ignorant mindset this little article makes you out to have.
Pia | 5 years ago | Reply Ironic that Tanuj Garg is the one being Holier than thou in the article but when you base your life on black money, crime, drugs, alcohol, and cheating your way to make B grade films the rest of the world does not want you end up writing cheap articles no one cares about. Tanuj Garg, go away, you were a crappy film producer, you won't know God if he yanked the alcohol and cocaine you sniff everyday from your face and cleansed your sins. Grow up and realize that an act during a holy time is what makes faith goers faithful. I guess in your corrupt world you expect a reward for doing something your overweight self never have the strength to do.
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