Etiquette

Please be quiet, majlis in session!

The writer, Mohamedarif Mohamed Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) is a digital marketing specialist and an Educator-cum-Trainer. He has involved himself in community organisations and matters from a young age, and through his writings, continues to speak of social and cultural reform to this day. He is also the founding moderator of this forum.

Etiquette:

W

hat a strange and paradoxical phenomenon!

Please do not get me wrong, I have nothing against speech. In fact, I have spent most of my life training others on speaking in public, and so what I am referring to is something off the topic of public speaking.

Whereas we have been trained to believe that majlis is a form of an open university and that partaking of this unique institution avails one, an opportunity to learn long after leaving Madrasah. Majlis, if it would play the role of addressing our social ineptness ( lack of etiquette) and our cultural dogmas while reviving and refreshing our religious and spiritual awakening, would certainly be a place to be at.

A serious element of unschooled conduct is slowly eating at the fabric of our unique institution of Majlis.  And unless it is addressed head-on, the prospect of physically attending such unruly gatherings will continue defeating the purpose of the ‘open university’s.

At the core of this problem, is a global deterioration of how people behave in general.  A self-centered, careless, and insensitive approach has trickled into human behaviour that seems to cleverly rationalise and reward high-handedness.

Attending a majlis yields profound results, and in particular, the opportunity to learn, reflect, and later research is indeed squandered, when you are surrounded by adults who love commenting, teens who are in conversation with each other, and unrestrained young children either chaperoned by passive parents or left alone to wander around in the majlis hall. Basically a huge display of a lack of etiquette by the followers of a Prophet who stood for Etiquette

Our behaviour just does not seem to rhyme well with what we keep yelling about teachings of excellent morals by the infallible.  What a great disservice for us to turn Shiism into our way of life rather than follow what we have truly been taught.

Whereas it is common to hear sarcasm from the mimbar about those who choose to remotely partake of this institution, the right question to ask is how is one expected to learn in a ‘bus-stand kind of environment? Or why are we letting the high moral standards of the Ahlul Bayt slip into such a ruckus causing crowd-like spectacle? When are we going to address the akhlaaq and adaab issues of being at a majlis?

Unfortunately, lectures should probably answer why they are coming to the pulpit with less material and more rhetoric.  ‘Preaching to the choir’ is a well-suited cliche here because even now the greatest attempt and effort is being spent on persuading us the adherents if Ahlul Bayt (AS) about their righteousness and high station.  We should probably boldly ask these preachers if we would be in attendance had we not brought complete faith in these special personalities.

As a society faced with numerous challenges of the day, can we stop delivering antagonist material and start dealing with real-life issues? Can we stop referring to the Aimmah (AS) as agents of the fulfillment of our mundane desires, needs, and wants? For their place in the grand scheme of things was to be our immaculate guides who showed us, through word and deed, how Muslims ought to live.  

As long as we do not acknowledge that the dismal behaviour of attendees coupled with speeches that are designed to arouse rather than awaken, majlises will resemble political rallies where chants interrupt the speaker time and again, and the speaker has little material to address our upliftment issues.

As important as it is to bring children along so that they form a bond with this institution, the akhlaaq of a majlis must be preserved at all costs.  Unless we have now redefined this into something other than a learning platform.

In doing so, Jamaat leadership has to understand that playing up to the masses’ likings is not what majlis means, it is to provide an avenue where we can each improve ourselves in our journey towards the attainment of the nearness to the Almighty.

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