Contributed by Mohamedarif Suleman,
Every year, momineen all over the world go through painstaking efforts to organize a Julus on the Day of Ashura. The entire resident Shia population of that particular Jamaat participates with full dedication and without reservation. Parading barefooted, and clad in black to commemorate Imam Husain (AS)’s martyrdom, the procession aims at showing the members of society of the state of our grief and the reason behind our propagation.
Many critics have earlier pointed out that the nature of our processions no longer serves the purpose for which they were first intended. Yet die-hards of the community whose belief in any age-old practice us at times so rigid have compelled various leaders to take the third way. In taking this way, processions would be arranged, and a bit of compromise would be made in say, reducing the number of shabeehs. A quick look at the gathering will indicate that banners are usually well hidden from the general public, covered by hue alams and julaa. As a result, the interpretation of what we are demonstrating remains open to the wild imagination of the passing public, giving us little opportunity to explicate the message of Imam (AS).
This is a sorry state of affairs that even after years of talk, talk and talk, leaders have shown tremendous reluctance to reverse the trend. For one moment, each one of us should question whether this is a mere ritual or an affair of propagation, and if it is indeed the latter, what achievements if any are made annually.
A group of boys this year led a mini survey of by stander enroute our procession in Nairobi this year. This was by no means the first time such a survey was carried out. Past results have revealed highly derogatory remarks from the general public, results that would cause Imam (AS) to wonder of our true commitment to Islam. Anyway, so this year there were various responses. Some felt that since we had just tarmacked the El Molo Drive, this was an opening ceremony of the same. Others responded saying this was one of the Hindu processions and we were supposedly mourning the death of one of our gods. These are replies that are reminiscent of a previous survey some years back in which the Hindu comparison is repeatedly mentioned. One may be quick to retort that the people usually attach those properties to unknown events that they are familiar with, and express them in terms of those words that are known to them. And since Nairobi is a predominantly Hindu stronghold within the Asian Community, the general public identifies us thus. But a valuable point conceded in making this argument is that we would have to be similar to Hindu processions for is to be affiliated by them.
But Nairobi processions are held during daylight. If one were to participate a Julus in Dar es Salaam, for instance, where lots of fan fare goes into the making of a huge gathering, one would be sheerly bemused. While on one hand, we express sorrow at the loss if a Great Leader, the procession is comprised of nothing but shine and sheen. There is glitter all over, magnificent lighting and intricately woven symbols that only we can understand.
We are either to naive to understand that this entire exercise is meaningless if the aspect of communication is ignored in its entirety, or our Hindu origins are finally catching up with us again. For Indians and Pakistanis, our Julus are perfectly fine because the practice in the Indian sub continent matches our practice here. But again their audience is different, it is predominantly Asian. For us, it is different. It is time we stopped vilifying those who are seeking a scholastic approach to a systematic termination of absolutely partisan rituals. Islam is a religion of logic and reason, not emotion and fanaticism. It is surprising that while we dig out for reason in all other aspects, we repeatedly fail in our duties to the Imam (AS) year after year due to an intense lack of the same attribute.
At the end, we shall have to answer to Allah (SWT) as to why we knowingly indulged in an affair that was of no meritorious consequence to His Message.
By Mohamedarif Suleman (Nairobi,Kenya)
Each one of us, has at one time or another, had to be at the center of certain decisions. Some of the decisions we made turned out well, others didn’t quite shape up the way we wanted them to. But, hey, who can blame us? After all, they were not simple decisions such as having two spoons of sugar or one in a coffee cup, They were very complex decisions. Decisions that would change the course of many individuals for the time to come.
Ask a father who has to decide about a marriage proposal for his daughter. Is this man going to keep my daughter happy? Is he the right man? Or you may talk to a university going student, for whom choosing between one course and another is horrendous in itself. A leader, too, has his worries. If he decides to take a certain step, he directly affects the lives of a multitude of followers or members, if he hesitates, there’s no saying what might happen. Life is a series of decision making processes. At each step, we are called upon to exercise the finer judgements to steer certain matters in a preferred direction. Most of the times we make trivial decisions, but the moments that account for those mammoth resolutions, cannot be sidelined at any cost. At the end of the day, one has to decide, lest he falls in the trap of the Greek mythical donkey, whose only choice was to feed out of a bundle of hay or a pail of water, but not both, For many days, it could not decide which one was more important to it’s survival. After the lapsed time, the donkey died…not out of hunger and thirst, but due to inanition, Indecision, if you may.
Any decision involves two R’s. Risk and Return. Sounds too financial? Believe it. This is true because all decision making involves the future. We can only make decisions about the future; no matter how much we may regret it, we cannot alter the past. Indeed, there is one thing certain about the future, which is that we cannot be sure what is going to happen! Sometimes, we have be able to predict with confidence that what actually occurs will be one of a limited range of possibilities. We may even feel able to ascribe statistical probabilities to possible outcomes of occurence, but we can never be completely certain of all the future. Risk is therefore an important factor in all decision-making and one that must be considered explicitly in all cases.
In all aspects of life, risk and return tend to be related. Intuitively, we expect returns to relate to risk. In investment, for example, investors require a minimum rate to induce them to invest at all but they require an increased rate of return, the addition of a risk premium, to compensate them from taking risk.
Life is toughest for the individual making the decision, although some people make it look like child’s play. For these, it is perhaps their resoluteness or their objectivity in thought that affords them the luxury of calm and composure, otherwise a lot of people simply lose their cool. For the on-looker,however, everything appears magnified, exaggerated. One fails to understand why X is taking so long to take a decision which, one evidently feels is so minute. These variations vary out of perception. The striker of a football team knows best why a ”golden chance” was in fact so difficult. To the commentator and other viewers, there couldn’t have been a better opportunity.
As a community, our leaders are called upon variously to make certain very sensitive decisions. Decisions with which we are mostly not satisfied. Workers in various social circles as well are victims of this insensitive and incomprehensible attitude by fellow community members. And if the very circumstance were to fall upon these outsiders, they would probably act similarly, if not worse off. So what is the moral of all of this. Each one of us is taking risks all the time, sometimes we lose, sometimes we gain, but it is the collective understanding that might just make the difference.