Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Muharram In Sanford

We conclude the azaa of Abaa Abdi’Allah Hussein (A) recently, forty days of tribute to our heroes of Kerbala, Koofa and Syria, saviors of Islam and our hope for intercession on a day when no other intervention will be tolerated. An exceptional gift from Sayyeda Zainab (A) to rejuvenate our faith and seek nearness to Allah (S). Why, it seems only yesterday I help drape our Husseini Islamic Center here in Sanford in shadows of darkness and grief as we prepare for these annual rites.

Like most progressive centers, our HIC is top notch with choice of programs and lecturers, even though one young Sheikh goes overboard with some pretty bizarre suggestions in the name of ‘women’s’ rights and ‘progressive Islam’, ruffling off our Mullah Mchungu’s feathers and giving him incessant heartburn. Young Sheikh Hussein Al Nashed is excellent but my pick, hands down, is Sheikh Ayoob Rashid from London. This is not just because he is originally from my hometown of Arusha, Tanzania (wink, wink). He is an ever-genial guy, incredibly humble but clever, knows his stuff and articulates very well, Tanzania style. Who would have imagined a disadvantaged Black man from small town Tanzania would one day give daars to brown skin Khojas, many who still look down and discriminate on their darker skin brethren to this very day? My, Allah (S) works in strange, wonderful ways, no?

HIC, like most Khoja run centers, is clockwork in efficiency. When they say 7:30PM, it is not a time set in some fluffy clouds. Lecturers are given a reasonable sixty minutes mike time, alas ignored this year, several times, by an overenthusiastic Sheikh, strangely with seeming impunity. Don’t know about you but my mind goes a-wondering after this time and I can’t seem to stop yawning. Hardworking volunteers strive to service many HIC activities so all events are one seamless blur. Ah, what blessings, yaar.

We insha’Allah move to a brand new center, the Al Hayy Mosque in the very near future. This is a massive place, but a mile from my home. The mosque looks grand, no doubt, nestled smack in the middle of a redneck neighborhood; may Allah (S) protect us insha’Allah. But we here in Sanford are poised to grow with the new center opening. With a massive beautiful mosque, a vibrant active community using it, host of varied zaakirs, abundant warm sunshine, even now in January, when I go to Abdulhussein Jaffers’s orange grove and pick juicy sweet oranges to my hearts content. With my house close enough to HIC to be able to literally hear hearty salawaat, why, it is definitely a spot-on decision making Sanford my home. Kareebu sana, if Allah (S) makes it possible for you as well.

While I am eternally grateful to Allah (S) for blessing me with such bounties, I can only cast very worried and wary eyes at my Shia brethren around the world. Ignorant extremists butcher us in Pakistan and elsewhere but sprouting YouTube clips, TV channels and ‘ulemas’ hell-bent on creating fitna and making this glorious madhab a laughing stock are taking a bigger, long-term toll; aaiboo wa’Allahi.

Not too long ago, in towns and cities of East Africa, we commemorated Muharram the old fashion way. May not be ideal to some ‘progressive’ and ‘contemporary’ ulemas or thinkers, however, we were surely spared the mayhem that whirls around now. We have self-styled experts who call for women to lead prayers, one set of ‘ulemas’ pray for an Ayatullah’s life be shortened, another set refutes the credentials of other leaders. We have groups I have not ever heard of; Rafeedhi, Irfaani, Karbalayye, Najafee, Qumee, Mashadee, wilaayat faqih, anti-wilaayat faqih...send laanat on this religious leader, on the Prophet’s (S) wife, on his companions! No, do this in private, not publicly! Enough to stir up sleeping doodoos in my mind! All this is baffling, maddening; if our Aimaas (A) did not publicly curse anyone, who are we to do so? Who are better examples of exemplary humans then every single one of them fourteen (A)? 

Why can’t we try and live in harmony with other Muslims and humanity in general, minding our own business, becoming better human beings, strive for better akhlaq, proper Muslims, like the Mtume himself? Surely we have our own skid marked underwear to launder first; I have a hard enough time focusing on educating my children on being good Muslims, to love Ahlebeyt (A) in all that is good. Am I, as a parent, now supposed to guide them hurling abuses and hatred towards others? Yes, we can certainly view those that killed and oppressed the Aimaas (A) in repulsion and loathing, even hate them. Now, leave them alone for Allah (S) to judge! We will change not a thing by cursing other madhabs or their leaders, producing umpteen YouTubes or taking to adverse TV airwaves. The opposite really, ridiculed and targets for revenge.

In Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, even Haiti, I have personally witnessed the Shia community divided between two or more groups, pitted on theology and political divide of Iraq and Iran. The biggest losers will be our children, who already grapple with intricacies of Islam in general and in particular the West, even in what is supposed to be all good. Imagine the opposite. Implosion? 

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