The Community Needs Thinkers…

Mohamedarif Suleman – Nairobi, Kenya

Without having to necessarily impinge on any personal territory in as far as leadership is concerned, especially because we would all like to reconcile our loyalties with their apparent zest and zeal to follow a progressive communal curve, we must, as well, be armed to the teeth with an ability to accept that in this day and age, we need visionaries and thinkers above all.

Communities have thrived the world over and over the years, we have secretly escalated from an insignificant lot scattered across the universe to a more synchronized community that is vigorously engaged in self-growth and perpetuates preservation of its entity. It is common knowledge, however, of the manner in which most Jamaats are run. Ad-hoc financing, lackluster drives and donor-motivated projects, all of which while commensurate with the continuous motion needed to run the routine and short term plans of the community, defeats the principal of an organization.

We must vociferously concede that our organizations lack unilateral focus and are in fact anti-organization in spirit. In other words, when a new team comes into leadership, support by the membership is limited to those willing to commit their own resources only. As a result, personal interests, not compulsorily harmful, but those that predicate the “one-man shows” of our long history have prevailed. In any organization, the first rule is that there ought to be continuity. Continuity of planning, continuity of controlling and directing. And finally the supervisory controls to ensure that the plans are adequately followed and that the so-called “master plans” are not mere publicity propagandas earmarked for the registered office archives.

THE COMMUNITY on FRIDAY, while pro-progress, believes in the sanctity of the constitution, in the wholesome philosophy of an organization, and in the discipline associated with discharging our various individual roles associated with such tasks. But we simultaneously find ourselves, term after term, that each individual jamaat fails to rise above the petty triviality of running their centers and manning their problems, to engage in any meaningful planning or vision implementation. And once the term ends, the succeeding team fails to inherit the problems as well as the successes. What does this mean to the ordinary voter? Simply put, when you elect a member, in as much as we desire the emergence of new ideas and reforms, we also must seek the absolute fulfillment of the organizational mission, rather than any personal unvented opinion.

To start this, and especially now that the World Federation ha confidently placed their Vision Plan to the whole world (and that we believe is beginning to receive widespread acceptance), the local Jamaats, grassroots you may call them, must change the mode of leadership. Let us low censure of misdeeds, not for humiliating people, but to uphold the constitution of truth and justice. This should immediately replace the age-old song of unity, because while immensely emphatic, unity is subject to abuse by unaccountable teams of leaders. Let us not shy away from questioning, and let  us not deprive the non-wealthy persons to assume leadership roles.But because of the present-day defective organization structure, where the leader has to practically stop living his life (absence of management delegation), this is not bound to happen, is it? With a more positive approach to our systems we will then be able to happily move forward and unite with cleaner hearts for another. Organization, not personalization, is the key.

Share Button

Economic Gain at Spiritual Loss?

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

Nairobi, Kenya

Money, most people will agree, embodies all that is evil, superfluous and mundane. And while the essence of life is much more than money and the material it can provide, the world economic order has little mercy for the have nots of this generation.
An interesting anecdotal moral is told of Bahlool, whom upon being served with a large tray full of delicious dishes by Haroon’s men, diverted the food to a dog standing nearby. When the couriers of this extravagant gesture protested, Bahlool demanded that the servant keep quiet lest the dog also refused to eat and partake of the illegal wealth. What was the moral? Very simple. Bahlool, in all his worldly insanity, knew that by eating that food which comprised from illegitimate input, his heart might bend towards giving favours to the tyrant ruler.
Imam Ali (AS) is long quoted to have said that any land on which a single drop of alcohol is spilt, and on the same place a plant was to grow, even the fruits later borne out of such a tree would be haraam. The moral and significance of the narration is no different.
But today, as the United States government, with its invincible media and IT prowess penetrates through every culture and every faith, across each nation and proliferating infinite boundaries, Muslims have been caught unawares. Some still fighting old wars, others reflecting autonomous regimes, and yet others still intoxicated with abundant wealth, have found the new way of life with least alarm. Communities like ours remain imbalanced and undecided as every other bad becomes good, and the virtue of forklore gains indifferent popularity.
What are our communities doing in order to ensure that we do not become the complete victims of this global inferno that is ever so effectively propagating openness, promiscuity, inconsideration, materialism and egocentricity? Perhaps we need to address this question once again.
Going by the above morals as well, we need to once again ask and introspect whether we are contradicting Imam’s words today or not. Are we bowing down to the rich primarily because of economic power? Are we scared to stand up for our rights when pitted with some community brothers whose favour and fame within government circles places them in a favourable positions to oppress? What kind of Muslims are we growing into? Are we like the modern Arabs who rush to prayers and abandon everything, but are later seen engaging in anti-Islamic of activities? Or are we like Bahlool, who possesses the courage to negate any ill-based and ill-motivated powers? We must ask ourselves these questions if we are to rescue our aakherat. Money, will then not bail us from the fire of hell, for our inanition to solve this crisis.
And whereas it is acceptable that we remain focused to our economic upliftment, it must never arrive at the pitiful expenses of our faith. A good suggestion, originating from a Shia brother, would be able to make our Friday khutbas more practical and relevant, and a forum for the emergence of issues, rather than a ritual offering which in any case defeats the sanctity of the gathering.

Share Button

Julus – Performance vs Perception

By Mohamedarif Suleman,
Nairobi, Kenya

Last time’s discussion on Julus and the current anomalies surrounding it invited a lot of debate. As always, there were various people who saw the point made, while others, the die hard veterans believe that the statements were malicious and far from the truth. The Community on Friday, in reality, is in the pursuit of objectivity, which is why views from all corners are invited and circulated.

But as the brave words of Br Hussein Datoo propensed through the subscriber list, a lot of people could actually identify with the vicious circle in which we are now moving without realizing the impact that we are now causing to society in general. Sister Saeeda has made a commendable comparision between the Julus she witnessed from Beirut and another from the Indian Sub Continent and Pakistan. Her points are well received, and in fact confirm the fears of many a leaders and the well wishers of the community vis-a-vis our apparent return to Hindu practices. Interestingly, as the discussion made forays, a visiting Maulana reciting in Nairobi over the Ashra of Muharram made some very questionable remarks. Amongst his predominantly “Indian” theme, he said that the action of ladies in Banaras in Uttar Pradesh if washing the feet of the shabeeh of Zuljana with milk was symbolic of its role in the last hours in the life of a thirsty Ali Asgher (AS). He further said that in a certain year, when the typical Julus did not pass through a certain route featuring the omnipresent Zuljana, mothers refused to feed their children until they first “fed” Zuljana. These, he opined, were examples of non-Shias’ appreciation of the sacrifice made by Imam Husain (AS)’s caravan, something that we had failed to comprehend. One wonders that as we scream our heads off for reform, what good will the arrival of such reciters do to our efforts at bringing a more practical approach to our understanding of the event of Kerbala. Incidentally, thee Hindu involvement in our processions was also discussed as a common feature in Dar es Salaam processions in the last edition, and a question was posed as to why their belief is so selective so much so that it hinders their accepting the belief wholesome? An incredible piece has surfaced from Br Aunali Khalfan who has aired his views, and in between throwing some hard lines at the author, has resolved and important factor that the Julus actually purports to deliver a message and raise our voices as a Muslim Nation amidst growing oppression against our brethren, especially in the Middle East. His message, while loaded with sharp sentiments about the Julus, raises important points in as far as the true role of the procession is concerned. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case. Ask some recent past Nairobi Jamaat leaders, and they will tell you how some people thought that we were a Hindu sect heading towards the Karbrastan to bury the idols of our fallen war heroes. Ask any highly learned man and experienced personality of this community to tell you why the “alam”, originally a flag, has been converted into a different form today. Ask specifically, why the “alam” of Hazrat Abbas (AS) is tall and has a mashq (water bag) tied to its “neck”. Ask them if this really symbolizes the flag that he heralded on the fateful day, or that it represents the tall stature of the brave warrior whose hands were cut off and the mashq was strapped across his neck. It is very easy to proclaim that we are doing this with a reason, but very difficult to be logical. If the organizers of the Julus, the leaders of this community in the first place are not going to accept that a problem exists, and that most of our tradition is Hindu in flavour, and if we continue to rationalize with our own explanations, then what can one say? If our appearance in public is causing a misinterpretation of our beliefs, it is mandatory upon us to change that. That, brothers and sisters, is what communication is all about…the world is free to draw their conclusions, but they will always be based on our presentation. That will be the true perception.

Share Button

Mulla’s Last Thoughts

Mohamedarif Suleman – Nairobi, Kenya

For the benefits of the non-Gujrati readers (which I am afraid may constitute a large percentage of our community), here are excerpts from Marhum Mulla Asgherali M M Jaffer’s last counsel published  in a recent edition of the Gujrati magazine “ithnasheri” that quotes Marhum’s last visit to Bhuj and Kutchh.

During informal conversations, Mulla engaged his host Janab Yusufali Bhojani and his collegues in a discussion related to youths and the influence of the omnipotent media on their minds.

It is recalled in the article that Mulla lamented at the overpowering role of the 24-hour cable and digital TV and the internet. He said that in the guise of harmless entertainment and depiction of the lives of people, such networks and indeed the World Wide Web was a source of conveying a materialist culture deviod of Islamic values, and in many instances directly opposing matters of faith. He said that the professional packaging of such channels was so sophisticated that it attracts the youth but simultaneously trains them for skills of living a materialist life. Not only do they cause mental anguish but also physical agony.

When we reflect at his last thoughts, we perhaps cannot feel anything else but agreement. For not only are we all surrounded by such problems today, for most parents it seems almost impossible to correct the situation because the risk of being labeled old fashioned by the young generation is looming large. But Mulla preaches bravery. He felt that if parents do not reverse the situation, the time would not be far that our children would finally change their names as well to fall in line with the pressuring demands of their generation. Shying away from the problem will guarantee parents of distress in this life and punishment in the hereafter.

Watching a TV pop show in which women bare their bodies and men swarm all over them, or for that matter being bombarded by a commercial in which the brand sellers claim sexual attraction as a primary reason to wear, say, a certain perfume or shirt, is a desperate attempt by the sellers to target a vulnerable age group using basic instincts which need no further persuasion. After all, telling people that a certain washing power washes well than its competitors is one thing, and telling them that if used, it would guarantee sexual favours from members of the opposite sex, is something else.

It is about time, we stood up to our times and said to the new generation that it was fine if they desired sex, et al. But as Muslims, we were brought to create change for humanity. To show the world, that unlike animals, who attract others’ mates by smell, strength or charm, human beings are meant to live a life in which sex has to be enjoyed as a means of gratitude to Allah and as per His commandements.

Beyond the man-woman relationship, which seems to be the theme in most new genre soaps, ads and films, other attributes such as scant dressing, rebellious haircut or disobedience to the elders are all traits that favours general trade and commerce because it enhanced customer spending.

The onus definitely lies on the parents. Recently, a feverish debate has emerged within Nairobi, whereby the Managing Committee and preachers have plainly appealed to the relevant people to curb this attitude of standing outside the mosque when the Majlis of Imam (AS) is being recited. Thanks to a few poor deliveries by Zaakiereen, the young people have labelled these majlises as a waste of time, and in any case, they do not understand the language. Parents, instead of pushing their children to put efforts in comprehending the language, echo their sentiments. Today, it is better for a child to be computer literate than to possess Islamic values. Mulla, may Allah rest your soul in peace, but your words are nothing but the truth.
Share Button

Neither Wealth nor Beauty – Part 2

By Mohamedarif Suleman

Jowaibir left the house murmuring, “By God, whatever the Qur’an teaches and whatever is the purpose of the Prophet Hood of Muhammad is totally against what Ziad says.”

Those nearby heard the murmurings of Jowaibir. Zalfa, the lovely daughter if Ziad, and the beauty queen of Medina, heard those words of Jowaibir. She came to her father and asked, “Father, what was that man who just went out saying? And what did he mean?” “He had come to ask for your hand in marriage and was claiming that the Prophet had sent him for this purpose.” “Isn’t it possible that he had really sent him, and thus your rejection may amount to the disobedience of the Prophet’s order?”  “What do you feel about it?” “I feel you should bring him back before he reaches to the Prophet, and then go yourself to find out the truth.”

He brought Jowaibir back to his house with due respect, and then himself hurried up to the Prophet. When he saw him, he said, “O Messenger of God, Jowaibir came to my house and brought such a message from you. I would like to inform you that our custom is to give our daughters to persons of equal status and belonging to our tribe, who are all your helpers and companions.” “O Ziad, Jowaibir is a faithful man. That dignity and honour which you are talking about has now been abrogated. Every believer man is equal (for marriage purpose) to every believer women.”

Ziad turned to his house and explained the situation to his daughter. She said, “Please do not reject the proposal put by the Prophet. This matter concerns me. I accept Jowaibir whatever his condition may be. If the Prophet is pleased with it, I am also pleased.”

The wedding was duly solemnized. Ziad paid ‘Mahr’ from his own wealth and offered good articles to the couple. They asked the bridegroom, “Have you got a house where to take the bride?” He said, “No, I had never thought that I would get a wife and settle in domestic life. It was the Prophet who came suddenly and had a talk with me and sent me to Ziad’s house.” Ziad arranged for him a house equipped with complete necessities, and transferred the bride superbly adorned with ornaments and perfumes. Night came. Jowaibir did not know where was the house meant for him. He was guided to the house and led to the bridal chamber. When he saw the house and its equipment and looked at the dazzling bride, his past came to his mind and he said to himself, “How poor was I when I entered this city. I had nothing, neither lineage nor family, now God made these affluences available to me through Islam. Indeed it is Islam that has brought such changes in the social outlook of the people beyond any imagination. How grateful I am to God for bestowing upon me all the blessings.” In spiritual ecstasy, he went to a corner of the room; spent the night in recitation of the Qur’an and prayer. It was dawn when he came to himself and decided to fast in gratitude to God. When women came to see Zalfa in the morning, they found her untouched. They kept the matter secret from Ziad. Two nights and days passed in the same manner. He was fasting during days and praying in the nights. The women of the family of the bride were worried. They thought perhaps Jowaibir was impotent and had no need for a women,. At last, they put the matter before Ziad. He informed the Prophet, who then called Jowaibir. “Don’t you have any desire for women?” “Incidentally, I have a very intense desire of that kind.” “Then why didn’t you go near your bride?”  “O Prophet of God, when I entered the house, I found myself amidst that affluence. A state of gratitude and devotion took me over. I thought it is necessary to offer thanks and prayers to Allah before anything. Tonight, I shall go near my wife.”

Jowaibir and Zalfa lived a very happy life.

Share Button