Mohamedarif Suleman – Nairobi, Kenya
Originally, what was the purpose of Nyaz? In establishing a true and objective to this question and many other such as its use today, one would have to formulate an unprejudiced list of pros and cons of Nyaz.
Science has shown us that most normal things in life are characterized or constituted by a parabolic curve. This is fondly called a normal curve. A normal curve, graphically represented, starts off numerically low at both ends, and rises gradually at the center. The explanation of the behavior of tis curve is that the extremes (in this case, yes to Nyaz and no to Nyaz) are few in numbers. The majority of the population is made up of the middle-way adherents. That is to say, that for most of their lives they move on steadily, remaining largely uninfluenced by either poles. The case of Nyaz is no different.
So what is the purpose of Nyaz? Firstly, in many Jamaats across the world, Nyaz serves to bring various members closer. Through the ritual of eating collectively, a stronger bond amongst the followers of Ahlul Bayt (AS) develops. Having said that, Nyaz also allows people the opportunity to sit and discuss issues related to the Muslim ummah, and jointly remember the ideals and virtues of the Holy Progeny.
What are the downsides to hosting of Nyaz? (Please bear that these are objective and pragmatic considerations, which do not take count of any emotional or irrational belief. And in any case, a Muslim must be able to justify his actions and reason them out.)
The drain on the community, financially, is astronomical. Of course, there are donors who stand up even before the plea is made.
Now, let’s look at what is happening in reality. Many years ago, a sociologist by the name of Asimov Pavlov postulated that creatures usually condition themselves to repeating occurrences. He showed that when a dog was continuously fed after ringing a bell at a given time, the dog would after a while show up for food, even though the bell was not rung or that there was no food. Conversely, the sound of the bell would make him believe that food was in the offing. Tis has been effectively applied on humans, who are also known to be creatures of conditioning.
Now it would appear that a large chunk of the membership has now forged a conditioned response whereby attendance is greatest when Nyaz is announced and lowest when there is Tabarruk only. In addition, already existing informal groups means that there is little meaningful exchange between new people each day.
And the worst part, despite years of appeal by leaders and preachers, like Pavlov’s experimental dog, some of us wait for the bell to ring before we set foot inside the Imambargha. And let us not forget the donors, who pose numerous conditions, both directly and indirectly, to announce that they are indeed the donors. Do these actions meet with the benefits attached to the noble practice of Nyaz?
But even today, anyone who raises a question is considered outrageous and blasphemous. And until the natural course of remedy surfaces, it does look clear now that the community has adopted a parabolic approach to many issues, including Nyaz. Let the Nyaz lovers fight the Nyaz opposers (two poles), while the centrally located will continue to lurk in the middle, except that in this case, there is growing concern that the original significance is not lost, amongst our heavy purses and lofty voices.