Charity begins at home

Over the period of time the concept of charity has evolved with different meanings and various impressions/notions. When I recall my childhood days, I do not remember my parents ever paid any huge amount of money in charity, at least they never mentioned it to us or anyone. However, we never found anyone who came to visit us returning empty handed i.e. without having received in the likes of freshly prepared meal, for instance, if it is in afternoon then it is lunch otherwise dinner, we were supposed to eat whatsoever was cooked at home other than occasionally when individual’s preference was taken in account. Even when we were abroad, ami (mother) used to cook traditional Asian food with all the required spices used in while making it sufficiently hot, those were taken for use, whenever we used to visit Pakistan and same is for other Regional Cuisine.

To me, it looks strange when I find people originated from Pakistan on living abroad change even their food taste but remain stuck with conservative approach in life in spite of spending decades in Foreign Countries including the Western Countries. Anyways, even during days when we had little to eat, our home-made or home-prepared food used to be given in charity to homeless people sitting on the roadsides.

A large amount of money used to be spent on education particularly on purchase of Globally Reputed Book(s) by World Class Authors. Giving donations for books in those days, was considered charity too, people proving the term right that charity begins at home. Similarly, raw food material was given in charity with relatives were given priority; depending on closeness of relations. What I really feel missing these days, is good quality time sharing and to taking care; a thing that our forefathers used to offer. Privacy was respected whereas confidentiality of the matters was kept where needed i.e. what has to be shared and what has to be hidden, well from a certain segment of family. However, family tales were shared with the children to keep them aware from their family history.

For instance it was very fascinating for me to know when I was a little girl that one of Abu’s sisters ( around a century ago) got married by choice in an Era when women used to be most suppressive member of the society particularly in Eastern Culture of South Asia. No Wonder people in those days while relying on freshly cooked natural food and investing in relations for happiness, spared the need of technology or use of medicines and counsellors physicians and mental well being experts etc. There were more parks and lesser number of hospitals and police stations. People were generally aware of finding more options for any problem thanks to limited methods used such as technology or lack of the same; unlike these days where even for simple calculations we need calculators. The main threat faced rather encountered by the Global Health those days was infectious diseases, diseases caused by germs. However giving money to hospital or patients was not common as compared to today’s routine as these days,  people give huge amount of donations including Zakat to hospitals in our society where there are more people suffering from some type of illness than absolutely completely healthy individuals.

Those were the days when people used to become experts in their respective fields after having extensive studies on World Class Authored Book and Research Papers in consultation with experts of the field. Today the scenario is entirely different, people start making money by claiming themselves experts, calling or introducing themselves as consultants even without having any exposure; mere going through the online literature occasionally doesn’t make you an expert or a learned consultant.

The horrifying impact of this trend is created in Area of Higher Education particularly in Research. Generally, without having adequate learning, merely relying on whatever is available online is ‘dangerously’ wrong. For not having referred the world class experts’ authored books and papers, people involved in research simply end up generating the work as a research activity that lacks academic credibility particularly in area of Biological Sciences and Medicine. Treating Patients in Routine is entirely different in approach than doing Authentic Research hence Generating Data, by using stereotype procedure and doing genuine science, are two entirely different matters.

With having enhanced influx of donations to hospitals, latest equipments are installed whereas many hospitals are interconnected to share the data obtained on patients’ samples. At times, people are not informed about it, even their permission is not sought to publish the research papers built upon using their body samples; a mandatory process for growth in Medical Profession.

With the advancement in Science there is a huge range of drugs available, their effects are being studied on patients. Probably for this reason, we in this part of the world are encouraged to take medicines, unlike the developed part of the world whereas medicines are comparatively cheaper in this region. Science has always been in evolving process, it is not unusual that an established fact, over a period of time, turns into obsolete knowledge i.e. a thing or routine gone out of fashion. For instance, the knowledge of gene, controlling unit of cell, building block of human beings and its relation with diseases and other features of living entities has acquired a new horizon of understanding over the past 10/12 years. Since we rely on routine procedure for experimentation, stereotype research projects are designed on standard format without needed wisdom, above all this very fact could not be revealed from the work generated and published so far merely because of inadequate or improper understanding on knowledge and partly because to protect the interest of individuals associated with the profession who are effected in case when certain domain of knowledge are declared obsolete.

On the other hand, new drug preparations are being developed keeping in view the published work, many of them created serious adverse effects on patients that in certain cases are permanent as well, can end their life in addition to putting them in severe pain and distress. These days there are more drugs available than needed ending up in a weird situation where some people are dying merely for not getting needed medicines. Several others are taking medicines as a precautionary measure often to ease up the symptoms. In simple words medicine has become our feed that has substituted natural food. People by belief have trust on preparations including other than medicated to get a desired effect on the body without realizing that the body has to pay a cost for the same. In most of the cases, in terms of health or well being when a patient relies on any unusual source as a feed for achieving desired effect on the body.

I remember, my relation with Abu was very special. He never hit me other than once when I ate lozenges totally unnecessarily; he would give me a slap or would stop talking to me for quite several days as punishment. Taking medicine ‘unnecessarily’ was an issue that used to make him angry; and quite logically.

Gone are the days when people used to rely on uptake fresh, raw vegetables, fruits and freshly cooked food etc. for keeping good health and to acquire desired effects on the body. They stayed in good health with having fewer incidences of non contagious diseases e.g. mental illness, allergy, kidney failure, cancer, baldness, pre mature aging (look older in young age) joint pains etc. within a given population. These days, a huge range of preparations is observed, leaving significant effects due to the involvement of network of experts and diagnostic centers at the cost paid by customers. Prior to their commercialization, many of them though create some of the required impact on the body but in the long run, they cause severe harm to the body usually reflected as appearance of unusual diseases. Even the food that is cooked is added with the spices having harmful compounds including the commercially available ‘masala.’ Only a very few people use pure original grounded spices which are expensive though but certainly better than paying the heavy medical bills. In this Region of Sub-continent, marriages are arranged in close families and hence there exists commonly shared larger number of specific controlling unit of cell activity and characteristics, gene etc. Whereas huge numbers of cells, building blocks that together build a human body are similar within close relatives; the same reason behind siblings resembling whereas similarities exist among family individuals.

A very interesting feature that appears in response of close family marriages is the disappearance of some genes (knockouts) naturally, that in obsolete Science was assumed to be linked with existence of different illnesses. It has been since ages that people, in almost every region have been marrying in close families globally, particularly Muslims. However, the incidences of earlier mentioned illnesses had never been exceeded to the extent that the community had to pay the Zakat Money, as well for the Treatment. Latest Research has indicated that there is some connection between mind mouth and Gut by some mechanisms together they work to keep individuals Healthy. In our Society, elderly people are usually regarded more, being the earning hand(s) probably; they’re are better taken care of in comparison to those; who’re older and kind of ‘useless’ and thus suffer negligence, and are unwelcomed.

This is one of the reasons that our society is in turmoil for not making best of the experiences that can be learnt from our elders’ life, particularly in domestic affairs e.g. house running matter and cooking that is adversely affecting the community health. Freshly prepared Regional Cuisines using the original spices, not the one available commercially by traditional method in fact carries potential to prevent several illnesses, that occasionally be taken with families including elders in an open and friendly environment as it used to be in older days can take us back in olden and golden days where general health was far better than these days.

The mind-mouth-gut connection really works even at the level of mental well being as shown by recently published research that indicates “the cause of many neurological diseases including Alzheimer disease are linked with the types of micro-organisms in gut.” The scientist are working to find and figure out “how to exhaust the micro-organisms” causing inflammation and other adverse effect on brain preferably through diet.

With having these findings most of the prescriptions for such purpose to use have lost their authenticity to be effective in beneficial manner.

It might take us centuries to change our research practice or to make it updated but to start towards healthy living practices, to acquire a healthy Mind Mouth and Gut Connection; we need to practice what people say in English i.e. ‘Charity Begins at Home’ by meeting occasionally on freshly prepared authentic regional original cuisines; a tradition carried on to us by OUR ELDERS. Even if our elders have not attended school, they still have huge treasure of experiences to get benefitted from; using sensible mindset that we all require to acquire rather than following the rat race both in life and profession.

The writer is associated with the Profession of Teaching and Research with having inclination towards exploring the Features of Nature while enjoying Food with Families and Friends. She is Assistant Professor at Department of Food Science and Technology in University of Karachi, Pakistan.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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