Its supposed to be “Eid Mubarak/Blessed Eid”. But I made that up.
Just like that. Perhaps for a perfect start to this piece… but you’ll be the judge of it!
E.I.D for me is Everything In Disguise!!!
It all started this morning. While offering the Eid ul-Fitr prayers in my neighborhood mashjid (mosque), the Imam (Islamic Cleric) during his customary khutba (public preaching) repeatedly kept reminding the unusually large gathering of dressed-up attendees of how “The practices of Holy Ramadan” should be continued well beyond the stipulated thirty days. I have heard the same lines at least a dozen times throughout the month… in different talk shows in radio and TV, magazine article, elderly folks and the web. They all sound and demand the same, don’t let your greatness to be confined to the month of Ramadan only. However many times its said or echoed though, some things are not meant for change…
Let us start with the most obvious… salaat (the most common Muslim act of worshiping). As creations of Allah and followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Muslims are required to perform salaat (offer prayers) at least five times (waqt = time) a day. For halfhearted followers who wholeheartedly work (like me) the morning (fajr), the noon (zuhr), afternoon (asr) and evening (maghrib) prayers can be easily discounted citing inconvenient hours. Yet from the very first day of Ramadan, people like me flock in the neighborhood mashjid for every waqt and throw tantrums at work for not having adequate praying facilities. Going by the teachings of Islam, selfless modesty does take front-seat from the very beginning! The capitalist 9 to 5 work-hours get customized, lunch-outs disappear and a sense of devoutness is in the air. Even the foul-smelling colleague of yours is no longer looked down at, since you all start smelling pretty much the same.
It is said that if all Muslims paid their due zakat, there would be no poverty in the world. Unfortunately there is more than enough poverty across the globe along with even greater number of zakat defaulters. Before Eid (throughout the month of fasting) we all go for some sort of a “religious diet”. We dont deny alms to the beggars, shove off street urchins or forget saying bismillah and alhamdulillah at the beginning and end of every meal. We just put on a cloak that says humility guaranteed… and damn… don’t we do a good job of it!!! By the time its Eid, without a fail I wonder… why on earth did I think that of them!*)^&(%?
The more softer (but I believe harder) habitual changes aren’t to be missed out either. When you see Qiraat (Quraan recitation) competitions and Islamic talk shows on every possible channel at the same hour of the day, when you hear hamd o naat instead of chammak challo on your way back home, when you realize there is no lunch hour at work or when you simply decide not to check out the latest Pit bull video on YouTube… you know its Ramadan!
As an aspiring follower of Islam, I wish all I said above were just facts…. But rarely that is the case!!! From hereon, you all are free to judge me… as it is purely and sanely the opinion of a person who surely has some bias about how things are in life!!! O and nothing blasphemous… rest assured!
If the glass was half full till now, let me tell you the story of the glass that was half empty…
The preach and practice the teaching of Ramadan throughout the month (in our own different ways)… yet it seems… the excitement of being at close proximity to the Almighty dies down almost instantaneously after Eid (end of Ramadan). There is a sharp and somewhat drastic drop in number attendees at mashjids. The five waqts of prayer start seeming like too much trouble or too inconvenient. Lying becomes the only truth. And spitting goes down drastically in the streets :p
(oh yes! we spit more often in Ramadan avoid any doubt about consuming liquid during the fast).
Zakat as a word and as a practice… largely begins and ends with Ramadan (for most of us, at least). Without paying any heed to the idea behind it, most (including my family and indirectly me) engage in buying the cheapest bargain sarees and lungis (there are special zakat range) to be distributed among the housemaids and what not (I know some nice folks send it to their village homes, but that’s about it). Women inquire, cry and creep about how astronomical a sum they need to pay as zakat (for the truckload of jewelry they have stored away) and settle for a fraction of it by themselves. Suddenly every penny spared for a street urchin or elderly/disabled beggar throughout the year supplements the missing zakat fund. It always magically adds up to a satisfactory answer, every time…
Iftaar… the great feast of Ramadan (I hope I ain’t exaggerating) is another marvel. While we fast to feel the pain and suffering of the needy (the ones that go without a proper meal a day) and learn about patience, spirituality and submissiveness to Allah; its like daydreaming when you stand by any of the major food-places just before iftaar (watching the voracious foodaholics in action) and think back on those basic fundamentals of fasting in Ramadan. When you spend as much on Iftaar as a lunch in any 5 Star buffet… I wonder where lies the lesson about patience and humility in their actions!!!
The broadcast media is indeed the funniest of all. As you startle at the sight of a semi-burqa clad newscaster (who usually turns a few heads everyday) and get the warmth of enjoying something “religiously right”, the next TV advert sporting that bouncing babe in red isn’t so. The FMs go back on playing biri jalaile during Azaan (summon to offer prayers) and girls across the street start looking like that perfect Coke bottle!!!
No body’s perfect and I don’t even make it to the shortlist. I am not the person (courageous or capable) who points a finger at our beloved (or loathed, is it?) society and exposes imperfections. I don’t preach or practice Islam to the extent where you should start taking me seriously either. I have been associated with a lot of (not so nice) adjectives in life but hypocrite ain’t one of them. I am just another person… stupid enough to express the expected in words, dumb witted to believe we can change!!!