Allah (S) is extra benevolent to us folks in Sanford, FL, especially this Ramadhan. Frankly I dread the oncoming month of mercy; long sizzling days of summer, endless lethargic afternoons where the stomach growls and grumbles endlessly, hallucinating thoughts of colluding, conspiring time pieces moving extra slow, being on a short fuse as the sun takes it's sweet time going to sleep. All this not made easy by our non-Muslim brethren slurping Slurpee's, whizzing by in skates and shorts, gleeful, carefree.
The fear is misplaced, of course; Allah (S) grants His own brand of patience and tolerance, the days race by; why, it is sixteenth of Ramadhan already. Where there is supposed to be a blazing sun, we have mostly cloudy days, with abundant afternoon summer sea-breeze rains to cool us off. The fasting times, about sixteen hours long, are not as long as ones in Europe and more northern Americas, so we have an easier time. These pass off with a combination of late nights Baraaza induced sleep, prayers, contemplation, reading, writing and visiting HIC.
Ah, our Husseini Islamic Center, what can I say? This raggedy place is a blessing for sure; for the larger Orlando Shia community, my family, and me. We have continuous days of Quraan recitation, salaat, duas, lectures and iftaar here. It is an excellent place for people of all ages to mingle and catch up. The iftar is par excellence most days, except Dynasty disaster day when I am unsure what I bite into; food perhaps? The lectures, first half by Sheykh Murtaza Bachu, an upcoming young aalim from Vancouver, whose discourses, wholesome, uncomplicated and very practical, are a delight. I hope the next Sheykh, for the balance of the month, is as good or better insha'Allah. Never take the barakaat of parbaaro lightly, I tell ya. On a regular non-fasting Sunday, I see at least forty - fifty people for breakfast after salaat at HIC; in the first two Sundays of Ramadhan thus far, my math ends at seven, max.
There are many new faces at HIC; families relocating from within the US and others moving from frigid Canada and elsewhere. Mashaa'Allah, the Yusufali clan can claim six households already, others in the pipeline. Strength in numbers, I say. I am bullish about the future of HIC. With future Ramadhan programs planned at our brand new round the corner Masjid el Hayy insha'Allah, look out Bathurst, HIC is hot on your tails for number one North American slot.
This almost perfect ambiance of Ramadhan is almost upset by a pregnant woman thousands of miles away being taken to a hospital for childbirth. The headline news of an imminent birth of a 'royal' child is in every Internet news portal, on every TV news channel and every subject discussed on TV talk shows. For days afterwards, this single item dominates news, culminating in the birth of a baby boy, bless him.
People begin discussing his possible name, the shape of his behind, texture of his poop, what school he'll go to, whether he'll retain a full head of hair... Astonished and much intrigued, thinking this must be a very special birth indeed, I do a Google search of family and lineage of the child. Nothing impressive really; tourist attraction for British economy, many sites claim, several label them high class thieves, living life of unmerited opulence and many more are downright hostile, blaming the ‘royals’ for majority of todays ills. Strange, then, this melee I see on TV, yes? I begin to believe the TV hosts and throngs of masses they show are making silly arses of themselves. But its possible my rational is affected by saoom, however.
Balanced media, whose interest in a supposed royal birth is as important as an ant's ass, informs of mayhem in Syria and bloodshed in Egypt. Israel, I think, is the victor of this mess, with both major rivals neutralized. Dubai convicts, then pardons a fair skin Norwegian woman for having sex outside of marriage. Wow, perhaps there is hope then, for so many others, non-whites, from humbler countries, who already serve time for the same crime, you think? Miracles do happen, no?
HIC youth groups arrange barbecue on Saturday nights and the courtyard outside HIC wears a festive look, with free kuku fragrance; why, you'd think you are back outside Dar es Salaam mosque. Baraaza follow HIC programs at Zully Mawai's house, accompanied by to-die-for sakaraat bhajias from Sameer Daw's kitchen, elaichi-free kitumbuas from Aloo's home and other bitings, few nights with full-fledged daaku of Azeem’s excellent biryani or pulao even; these Baraazas sometimes last up to three AM. This is an all-adult affair fortunately; robust mashoozi, matoosi, maawa spitting and smoking prevail.
Now, you might think Baraazas are a waste of time. Perhaps. I get to reminiscence however, with incredible nostalgia, childhood and teenage years in Tanzania. I get to know famous personalities who make up my HIC community; Yusuf Kabana is one of them. I had followed this famous cricketer during his sensational yester years but never met him back home and did not realize it is the same Yusuf Kabana who I meet for jamaat salaat every day; oh, what a pleasure! I also get to learn or discuss, with passion and heated arguments at times, several sharee Islamic laws I am ignorant of; all clarified somewhat by our home based Sheykh Mohammedreza Janmohammed.
This is turning out to be a super month of Ramadhan, certainly better than I anticipated. I had wanted to spend the month in cooler, shorter daylight days of Dar es Salaam but my girl Maaha Zainab turned me down; I am glad she did.
Our CAI's commitment for Ramadhan Iftaar Fund is met alhamd'Allah, feeding over 10,400 poor or destitute families in twelve countries. I am so happy and proud of our worldwide donors. May Allah (S) bless us all, forgive our many lapses and accept our supplications.
Ramadhan kareem and a happy blessed Eid el Fitr.
For my non-Kiswahili audience:
Baraaza - Informal gatherings.
Daaku - Pre-dawn Ramadhan meal.
Kitumbua - Fried sweet dough.
Mashoozi – Flatulence.
Matoosi – Curses.
Parbaaro - Free meals, especially on religious occasions.
Sakaraat – Painful pre-death pains.