You describe eating in public as “uncouth and indecent.” Does this happen to be your own personal perception of the issue, or is this attitude borne of your understanding of the portion of the Qur’an and Sunnah that directs us in this matter?
Do you not think that what constitutes indecency and uncouthness is relative from person to person, or one culture to the next?
Further, I was quite surprised to read that you think eating in public during the day in Ramadhan should be punished “severely”. Eating in public during the day in Ramadhan does not upset social order, and nor does it harm anyone. Why then do you feel that an act like this should be so severely punished?
Making this act illegal would curb the freedoms of people of other religions. From this perspective as well, I would tend to disagree with your assessment that eating in public during Ramadhan is as serious an offense as you have stated.
I feel that this is an issue of personal freedoms, and forcing compliance to an Islamic directive such as fasting borders on compulsion in religion, which according to my understanding is against the spirit of Islamic teachings.
Kindly explain the reasoning behind your response to my earlier query.
I do acknowledge that indecency and uncouthness can be a highly relative phenomenon. Nevertheless, it seems to me that there can be cases where most of the people, if not all, would readily agree to a certain assessment with regards to decent and/or indecent behavior.
I had written:
… eating in public while the whole society is observing a fast is indecent and uncouth behavior.
In my opinion, eating and drinking in public, while most or all of the society – whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim society – is observing a fast, seems to indicate a complete disregard and apathy on the part of the individual towards his/her social circle. I don’t think many people would disagree that apathy towards others is indecency and uncouthness. Empathy, understanding and compassion towards others are most certainly desirable and highly valuable qualities of social life and play a major role in strengthening our social relations.
I would therefore like to refrain from eating and drinking in front of my friends – whether Muslim or non-Muslim – while they are observing a fast, as a show of my respect and regard for them.
Nevertheless, I do submit that there can be a difference of opinion in such matters.
Further, I was quite surprised to read that you think eating in public during the day in Ramadhan should be punished “severely”.
This, unfortunately, is not what I meant. The sentence which gave you this impression is reproduced below:
The referred practice is already not only illegal but also lacks all moral grounds. In my opinion, individuals involved in such criminal practices should themselves be severely punished under the law of Qisaas.
The phrase ‘The referred practice’ is not meant for ‘eating in public’, but is, in fact, meant for beating people up for eating in public.
What I had actually meant was as follows:
The practice of beating people for eating in public during the month of Ramadan is already not only illegal but also lacks all moral grounds. In my opinion, individuals involved in such criminal practices should themselves be severely punished under the law of Qisaas.
I am sure that after this clarification there is no need to answer any of your remaining questions.
I hope this helps.
January 10, 2003