I get to spend first twelve days of Ramadhan in Dar es Salaam (Dar), oh my, what a treat, alhamd’Allah! The weather is ideal, with cool pleasant mornings and nights, comfortable other times. Arusha, where I go visit an ailing aunt is rather cold, even Zanzibar is uncharacteristically chilly at the beach. Working with Reaching Out To The Children Of Zanzibar, a local charity run by Sister Raihana Merali, CAI donors will gift poor schools one hundred forty desks, repair few classrooms floors and complete construction of a local madressa where basic English language classes will also be sponsored by CAI.
Ramadhan here brings out fond memories of my childhood growing up in Africa with Iftaar of ujee and fried stuff after magreeb at the mosque. Jaabir Bhimjee spoils me with a thermos of tantalizing ujee ya naazee every day. Dua e Iftetah, always a pleasure with varied reciters at the mosque; an absolute gem in seeking Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure given to us by Imam Mahdi (A). Now only if he would hurry up and save us from many tribulations that grip Muslims worldwide.
Dar Ramadhan is all fun; days pass incredibly quickly with Fajr at 5:30 and Magreeb at 6:30. Iftaars are at various homes I am invited; nights begin at the mosque with lectures and duas end at about 10 followed by customary baraazas and a feast of kukus and mushkaaki at different restaurants that are open late. Baraazas are full of lamentations; bribery in government departments the number one subject; my mind whirl tipsy with numbers thrown about, hundred of thousands, even millions of shillings. My monthly pocket money in Form One was a mere fat five shillings! TRC, TANESCO, Traffic police; every government department is damned. Young beggars recite verses of Holy Quraan or dance to Muslim tunes in the hope for some pesa. I am at Oyster Bay beach few late nights where I dig into some of the best roojo roojo muhoogo or muhoojo chips my bloated stomach can pack. These also serve as daaku (I wish we would change this derogatory term of expression for such a blessed routine), for me, complimented by exotic Kiswahili sweets (gulgoolia, mkate-mimeena, koko-tende, pankho and more, without the cardamom menace, of course) from my good friend Murtaza Bhimanis’s house. Thank Allah there is a fine treadmill at the gym in Tanzanite Executive Suits where I run for an hour just before Iftaar, else I would be a serious hazard to any weighing scale.
Dar, with her impressive growth over the last decade, is a pleasure to be in. Safe and relatively clean, with even more construction of towers, attracts new arrivals, with Khoja community already at seven thousand plus strong, the largest in Africa, perhaps the world? The renovated mosque looks grand, even though looms too big; perhaps will accommodate community growth through next few decades. Murtaza Allidina is a pleasure to listen though his prolonged kunoots in salaat can give some a toothache. Perhaps. His backup for saalat this Ramadhan, Allah bless him, with a unique lullaby style of recitation promptly makes me yawn every time he opens his mouth.
These blessed days are soured by news of another ferry capsizing off the coast of Zanzibar, the very route I have taken just days ago, the gruesome massacres of Muslims in Myanmar (Burma), a country I have visited in the past and admired so much and of course events in Syria where hypocrisy from powers to be find no limits. BBC, CNN, even Al Jazeera (sadly) and their Masters are fantastic pathological liars, have perfected the art of deceit and hypocrisy to a point they actually believe the foul, vile and offensive garbage they utter. Amidst all these happenings, Olympic summer games begin in London - what a royal pain in the arse. The coverage on (British) TV is full of racial overtones, disproportionate and overdone, achy for my eyes, ears and a literal nuisance to Londoners. Really, I have not heard any of them happy with the event. Why on earth hold this event in a declining city / country should be a case study in Arm-Twisting Management 101.
Today, I have completed ten days of this blessed month here; it is time for me to return home to Sanford, FL shortly, where it’s rather hot and fasting days longer; a prolonged absence, family affairs and business matters beckon. Later visiting Kabrastaan, a brisk comfortable breeze from the ocean has a calming, dulling affect on me; a good book at the beach in Oyster Bay and I would be snoring soundly. Sleeping here permanently, eventually, deep in the earth of my birth-land, if Allah so pleases, would be a blessing. I feel sad, for Ramadhan in Africa, especially Dar is hard to match elsewhere in the world. But I will be back next year, with Allah’s grace and generosity.