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Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Eid!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Eid-ud-Duha here was on Monday, January 1st. For much more than a decade, I haven't gone to buy sacrificial animals. Took my children for the buying once or twice, and after having bought the animals, the children were not allowed the treat of keeping them at home until slaughter. Once they insisted they wanted goats at home, like all the other children. So I obtained a couple of handsome ones, brought up by someone in his village home. Such animals are the best ones. They enjoyed taking the goats for a walk, and feeding them. Finding a proper butcher is a headache, though. On that Eid, one goat was sacrificed properly, but the butcher who tended to the other one had a blunt knife, or wasn't able to use it correctly, so the cries of that goat put my children off getting sacrifice done at home.

I was back to sharing a cow/bull.

Pakistan has been flooded with Afghan and Kashmiri muhajireen (refugees), the Jihad widows and orphans, and now the Earthquake effecteees. I now pay money to an honest organisation, and get the sacrifice done near their camps or villages, and the mustahiqeen (desrving) get the meat.

The night before Eid it dawned upon me that the Blessed 10 days of dhul-Hijj are nearly gone, so I read up the posts and links by jannah and nuh for these days, and did some dhikr. I had beed doing it, without realising that these are special days, although the jannah board carried the link in bold: 10 "Blessed days of dhul-Hij".

I have been very lucky. Most of my needs and the tasks I do not like are taken care of. I find new clothes already bought, sewn and ironed, without even visiting the tailor. Food already cooked, and laid on the table. Dirty clothes and plates washed. House cleaned. Car is driven by my wife when I find it difficult to drive. I don't think anyone can be any luckier. The wife administers a hospital, and still does all this work at home, Masha`Allah. May Allah (swt) bless her, and make her my companion in Jannatul Firdaws, too.

All this may change, though. I have been served notice that after my retirement I am expected to do the house chores, and cook the mouth-watering foods I sometimes claim I am capable of doing. :) or :(

Morning of January 1st: as I wake up for Fajr, I feel cold. After Fajr, I wait a while; something is being said over the mike in the nearest masjid, but I can't make out what. Ears need a professional cleaning, or maybe I need a hearing aid. Go for my shower. My new clothes are already hanging outside the cupboard. It is cold, so I wear a couple of sweaters over a thick cotton vest and under the shirt. Every winter I receive compliments from people who think I have grown healthy, as my skinnily thin body is inflated by the clothes I wear. Got into the car, my car - Suzuki FX-800 cc 1984 model, the only car I can drive. Who else drives a 22-1/2 year old car? There are two other cars in the driveway, but I can't drive those. One of these carries my unutilised official quota of petrol in it, but I still cannot use it, for I cannot drive it.

I say the takbeer aloud, as I sit in the car, warming the engine. At 2 to 8 I drive to the nearest Masjid, saying the takbeer a few times. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illAllah, wAllahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lilLahi hamd. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Kabeera; wal hamdu lillahi katheera; wa Subhanallahi bukratanwwa aseela. The takbeer is important, but it has been missing in my environment during my adult life. I reflect on my childhood, and realise how knowledge is lost. Don't know what the next generation will do. They have not experienced what I have, and know little of the Fard, Wajib and Sunnah.

There was a time when I said the Eid prayers in open grounds, with 12 extra takbeers. That was when I was with my father or brothers. The Eidgahs (Eid Grounds) I went to had spaces for women too, partitioned from the men's with tarpaulin sheets. Then I was on my own, and gradually I forgot even Eids. A friend would come, remind me of the day, and take me to a Masjid, or to Islamic Society meetings, or to Quran recitation for a departed soul, and that would be my total Islamic exposure in the West.

Then one day, December 1976, while in Canada, I cried out to Allah (swt), and asked Him if this is what He had created me for - to work for the economies of non-Islamic societies, to live with continuous breathing difficulty, to lead my life away from Islam? Wasn't there a place on this Earth where I could get back to Islam, where I could work for the betterment of the Ummah?

Allah be praised. He heard me. He answered me. He granted my dua. Two years later I was in Islamabad, Pakistan, with the asthma miraculously gone. General Ziaul Haq had taken over the country, overthrowing the drinking Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, as People's Party adherents insist on calling him. Practicing Islam now met with official approval.

The military and bureaucratic messes no longer served alcohol. Federal Secretaries and their subordinates placed prayer mats in their offices. Wuddu or no wuddu, people now prayed whenever a photo opportunity arose, or the President came visiting and it was time for prayer. There were scuffles to get into the first row on these occassions. Masajid were built everywhere. People flocked to them. Ulema and Mashaikh were treated with respect. The USSR walked into Afghanistan, and Jihad began. Little by little, knowledge of Islam got back into the consciousness of society.

Islamic terms were in vogue. On one application for loan, a Federal Secretary wrote, Qarze Hasna, loan without interest sanctioned. His definition of Qarze Hasna was a loan without interest.

In neigbouring Iran, the US stooge Shah was overthrown. Iranian students discovered the Tehran papers, on how the US controlled the Islamic countries, and who was in their pay. Tehran was the HeadQuarters of the CIA for the entire region. The US was worried. Islamabad became the CIA HQ.

Baathist Iraq invaded Iran. The US placed young MS/PhD students in Pakistani Ministries and organisations. Instructions were issued to do what they desired. They experimented with us, and wrote their theses on controlling the Muslims. Then came bigger and bigger corruption, intolerance, ethnicism and sectarianism.

In this town, in the early years I went to Eid in open grounds in F-8, but it is cold outside, and now I go to the Masjid. Here I have'nt heard the takbeer aloud, except in the Eid khutba. It is almost as if people are ashamed to say it aloud. Somewhere people must exist who aren't shamed by saying the takbeer, but I do not have their company. Come to think of it, I haven't heard the Takbeer in Karachi either. Perhaps I move in different circles. Perhaps the seekers of affluence have forgotten this Sunnah. Perhaps they think Sunnah and affluence are incompatible, and they have made their choice. Perhaps the Sunnah exists among the not-so-well-to-do.

The wheel has come full circle. We now live in an age of Enlightened Moderation. The days of glorifying Jihad are over. Jihad is now a crime. It is another name for terrorrism. The days of simple living, too, are over. Having fun is what we have come into this world for: sing sing, sing; dance, dance, dance; enjoy, enjoy, enjoy; love, love, love. This isn't why I had wanted to leave the West. But Allah is without blame. It is us, including me. I who took it easy. I told myself I will become a practicing Muslim in slow doses. That was very wrong, or maybe my doses were too small. One could be taken away any time, and then what would be one's excuse. One is responsible for others, too - the wife, the children, the surrounding humanity. May Allah forgive us, and erase the harmful effect on those who have been touched by my laziness in this regard.

Moderate Islam is all about dancing, drinking, gyrating, flirting, mixing, wearing revealing clothes, and offering tributes to shrines and danda pirs. Fundamentalism is out. Sufism is in vogue. To be on the path of the Salaf is to be a terrorist. Today a Muslim's greatest fear is of being called a Salafi/Wahhabi. Henceforth, Surah Anfal stands expunged from school and college syllabii.

Outside, the percentage of those below the poverty line has climbed to above 40%. The Ummah suffers like never before. There are Muslim refugees in many countries. AIDS has depopulated Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has gone Christian. Once-Muslim countries now have a high population of Christian converts. Muslims are becoming increasingly secular, and away from the Shariah. Kafir forces now have bases throughout the lands of Muslims. They bomb and kill Muslims with impunity, while Muslims prefer to engage in ethnic, sectarian and tribal violence.

But what the heck; let us drink, dance, enjoy and sing of love. Let us watch TV soaps, sports, comics; let us listen to Geeta Bali; let us listen to all-time great songs of the past; let us gyrate with modern pop singers. Reading the Quran is out; listening to it is out; reading translation of the meanings and the tafaseer is out. Understanding what Islam requires from us may make us want to practice it, and that won't do in this age of enlightened moderation, which is to embrace modern culture and what is forbidden, yet to go on claiming that we are Muslim. Never mind that the culture we are embracing is Satanic; that it is a repeat of Jahilliyya. Sing, Dance, Enjoy, Drink and Love!

Sing, Dance, Enjoy, Drink and Love! Should we need any spiritual upliftment, make an offering to departed souls, or to semi-naked holy men; or sing shirkiya songs.

So all through Eid day and night, many Pakistani Muslims turn to that spiritual uplifter of all, the TV, and watch an Indian movie with dancing, singing and offerings to Idols. The younger ones prefer American singing and dancing.

I had neglected to find out the timings of the Eid prayer. When I reached the masjid, there were very few people, only one or two cars. Enough space to reverse the car and park it in a ready to depart mode just outside the main gate of masjid. At the gate I ask someone what the time the Eid prayer is, and he answers "8:30". I enter the main prayer hall and settle down with my back to the wall. Hopefully I will be protected from draughts. I feel cold. There are gas heaters on the wall. Far too few of them. I realise my easy parking isn't a blessing. Geting out will be difficult because of the rush. Decide I will wait, if need be.

The Maulvi Saheb is telling us about the story behind this Eid - the story of the ultimate sacrifice, of Ibraheem and Ismaeel (alehimus Salaam). This Masjid is headed by a Barelvi, but I have found that some of the Barelvi maulvis are fairly versed in Hadith, and often there is nothing controversial in their sermons. Only in these masajid, after the fard prayers, most people recite Salat-o-Salaam on the Prophet [saw] aloud a few times. The Sunnah is to say Allahu Akbar aloud once, followed by Asghfirullah three times.

Someone comes and sits next to me. He is a neighbour, a dentist who lives in the same street.

It is a good lecture. Nearing the end, the Maulvi Saheb tells us about the six extra takbeers in the Eid prayers (this is according to Hanafi Fiqh) - three in the first rakah, before Surah Fatiha, three in the second rakah, after Surah Fatiha and some Quran. It has been a long time when I offered 12 takbeers. Not too far away, three to four kilometers at most, there would be prayers in the open ground, with 12 takbeers. I said the prayers there once. Maybe next Eid, I will find out the timings, and say the prayers there, insha`Allah. The Maulvi Saheb also tells us about the Eid khutba being after the prayers, and other differences between Jumma` and Eid prayers.

The prayers are over, well executed. I turn to my neighbour; we exchange greetings, and embrace three times. This must be a cultural thing. Then his young teenage son comes over. Same with him.

Greetings to some more. Then I turn to leave. Meet another neighbour on my way out. I see that there are many people trying to go out the Main door. I look to the other side of the masjid, and there aren't all that many people there. I reckon if I go over there, and walk along the perimeter of the masjid to my car, it will be easier. I do that, and it is amazing. I am in the car. I start it, and wait for a couple of cars to pass before I take mine on the road. With a little honking, people give way, and I turn a different route, as per sunnah. I am back in the house.

Usually on Eids we wait for my sister to come around. This time she has gone to Karachi with her husband and son. So we take our breakfast. In my childhood we waited for the sacrifice first, and broke our fast with the liver of the sacrificed animal. My sacrifice is not here, and I am feeling hungry. The wife has just put down hot cholay, and dahi baras. I partake of them. adding a lot of masala, sliced onion and green chillies. Then since my mouth is on fire, I take some candy, Then some tea.

In Islamabad, particularly in the E and F-sectors, neighbourly contact is minimal. Hence most Eids we go around the street to greet people on their gates. That provides us two opportunities every year to see some of our neighbours. But this time, no one comes round, and I feel too cold to start it on my own. Outside the sun is shining, but perhaps there is a cold breeze, or it is just me.

There is a phone call from my samdhi (FiL of one's son or daughter. Only my son is married, so it is my son's FiL. The daughter is same age as JO). The samdhis will be coming. I interpret his words to mean they will come soon. My wife and daughter want to know the exact words, which I have forgotten, because they think the samdhis won't come so soon. I want to sleep, but cannot change now.

I read some Islamic literature. Then go to my son's room to use his computer. Open some sites. My wife comes along. We ring our son and DiL. Wish them happy Eid. Did the same when UAE celebrated Eid. Formatted some of my dua posts on my Islamic blog, and reposted them. I hope people have benefited from these. There are interruptions by people ringing the bell. Someone wants me to collect sacrificed animals hides. Some come to give us a packet of meat from their sacrificed goat.

People here respect me, maybe my age, maybe the white beard (not much of a beard, but still recognisable as one), maybe the pseudo-Islamic talk, whatever. It feels nice to be respected.

More bell-ringing. Any sacrificial meat. None. We don't do Qurani here, and hence no meat to give away. On Sunday two young girls and their even younger brother came asking for roti (bread). There was no bread in the house. I told them there isn't any. Then I thought of something. We had two bananas and some apples. I gave them these. Then I started thinking. These were Afghan or Pathan.

Why is there so much poverty that people have to ask for something as essential as bread? Why don't these children attend school? On each traffic signal and in every market, one is beseiged by young and old, male and female, begging. In the masajid, after Jumm3a and Eid prayers, there are beggars.

Some say these are professioanl beggars, but as my story "it was a monsoon Friday" demonstrated, not all are. Where does the Zakat go?

Back to Eid day. Time for Zuhr prayers, then lunch. Biryani! I eat the green chillies and some achar (pickles) with it; again the burning of the mouth; again candy as an antidote. Then I say my prayers. The wait for the samdhis has been too long. I am tired and in need of a lie down. Finally, at 3 pm I decide to change and have a rest. Just when I do so, comes the doorbell ring. Surely, the samdhis are here. After embraces at the gate, I bring them into the drawing room. Why do we call it the drawing room? Then I excuse myself and change again into Eid clothes. It is time for asr, but the small talk continues, and as I sense it is now 4:30, I excuse myself again, and go say the prayers. They are now ready to go. 5:10 is Maghrib time. Then I try the net, and it is dead. The ISP doecn't answer the phone.

More biryani at 8:30 pm, then Isha`, and after some reading of Islamic literature, I eventually fall to sleep.