Sunday, July 27, 2014

Alvidaa, Ya Shahru Ramadhan

We bid adieu to this special month; only a couple of days remain. Alhamd’Allah, most of the world was in agreement regarding the start of Ramadhan; I pray the same luck (and rational) prevails for Eid day. The annual debate, controversies, innuendos and general mayhem regarding the new Eid moon is becoming...well, kind of old.

A lot occurs this month, here in Sanford, FL and thousands of miles away, in Bangladesh. I promise me not to travel this month, come what may, but Allah had other plans for me, and He is the best of planners, of course. So I have the honor and privilege to travel to Chittagong, Bangladesh. Here, about 100 miles from Chittagong, languish hordes of Rohingya refugees in pathetic conditions. Shunned by homeland Myanmar (Burma) and spurned by neighbors Bangladesh and Thailand, these hapless people face unbelievable sufferings. CAI donors, in a small way, are able to feed the hungry and destitute so some of them can eat a decent iftaar. My iftaars certainly become unpalatable thinking about the grass-eating children I meet at the refugee camp. You can read my full trip report and view photographs of this relief effort here.

The month, as always, speeds by fast-fast. My apprehensions of long fasting days, especially for our younger ones, are misplaced. The wholesome HIC iftaars (although I now have nightmares of monster chickens looking to chop off my head for consuming them almost every day), the duas, lectures, amaals and superb management and executing all these are worthy of praise, certainly. Why, members of MC escort ladies to HIC center under the comfort of umbrellas, even, on a number of thundery days; I am much impressed. No such luck for men, however; we drench. I only wish the HIC potholes can be permanently repaired so they do not resemble some urban roads of Uttar Pradesh. Not to mention the overworked sinkhole behind the building. Aaayoo! The emitting repulsive whiffs can easily drive even the supremely pious into gudka and nicotine frenzy; reminds me of Pala-Gully of Dongri at once. Never mind though, Johnny fondly remembers of his reminiscent time spent in Dongri.

HIC management thoughtfully facilitates Ping-Pong and dartboard games at the center, so the Center is abuzz with both children and adults in frenzied competition until wee hours of the mornings. The baraazas after lectures are robust as usual; the discussions and food will be sorely missed after the month departs. Asante saana, Hassan Tall and Ali Budho; you guys make our baraazas so much more comfy. Now if only the MC will arrange for a well-ventilated covered baraaza shelter (we don’t want to give the Sanford fire marshal nervous moments with all that smoke emitting between what a real man smokes and the juvenile e-cigarettes stuff), do we? The daily Florida summer showers seem to time the blessed event bang-on after iftaar. Maybe Mulla Mchungu can be motivated to put up the request next time he is here; his smelly beedis can be a good excuse...

While we celebrate and feast, our eyes shed painful tears, hearts blister and blood boil at the atrocities in Gaza and Iraq. Will there ever be an end to this mayhem? Will the oppressed in Gaza ever breathe free? Are we forever condemned to watch innocent children blown to pieces by bombs or innocent necks slaughtered because of religious affiliation? How much more can these tortured people take? Is this life worth living, with these images? For us? For our children? It is a feeling of utter helplessness and suffocation not being able to do anything. For me.

Here in Sanford, we at HIC have the good fortune having Sheikh Jaffer Jaffer (Sheikh JJ to me) from Brampton Canada visit us for two weeks. Wow! What a refreshing change, from the regular mundane aalims we routinely get. His lectures on the beautiful names and attributes of Allah and how we can apply them in our lifestyles are both simple and practical; no complicated philosophical over-the-head humdrum from this guy. His one lecture rebuttal on the controversial issue of religious (Islamic) pluralism lays to rest (in peace, insha’Allah) all arguments, I should hope. Bravo Sheikh JJ, I wish we had more of your kind amongst us. It’s a shame we missed the opportunity to lock your services in some years ago. I am sure I speak the sentiments of a vast majority of HIC members in saying kareebu saana. Any time.

So, alvidaa ya sharu Ramadhan, I know we have not done justice to your immense sanctity and not taken full advantage of your immeasurable blessings.

Bachein toh aglay baras hum hain aur yeh ayaam phir haazir hae. Jo chal basein toh yeh apna siyaam aakhir hae.

Eid mubaarak, insha'Allah.

The Chief Minister’s Assassin – A novel

My novel (print version) has sold almost 320 copies so far, with fantastic reviews. Not bad, really. Those interested can now purchase a copy for US$20 (proceeds still benefit CAI’s worldwide orphanage projects).

Here is my guarantee – Order a copy and if you don’t like it, I’ll refund the purchase price of $20. No tension.

A copy can be ordered from:

Me in the USA –
Fatema Alibhai in Canada –
Sabira Somji in Dubai –
Nazir Merali in the UK –

Murtaza Bhimani in Tanzania –

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