Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A beautiful blog post on Eid-ul-Adha

I know I haven't blogged in a long time, but I promise to in the next few days. I just got back in town from my vaction on Sunday night and my week has really been busy getting back into the groove of things.

For now, enjoy this beautiful post by my dear friend Zahir Janmohamed, co-founder of The Qunoot Foundation along with Mohamed Sabur.

Eid Mubarak!

I learned a long time ago that that is a good way to start a story. And so begins this story.

I text message during eid namaz. I know its bad but really, when subjected to such a bad khutba, is there any other recourse?

Today's khutba was definitely text worthy. Sadly that’s what I have come to expect from khutbas here in DC. If the khateeb is not insulting Shias (sadly a more prominent theme these days), the khateeb is trying to show how much he loves America(ns).

Ironically when they talk trash about Shias at least it comes from the heart—which I find in a twisted way to be refreshing (albeit still troublesome). Today’s khutba just seemed forced: “Brothers (did he forget about sisters?) we should obey this government because we love Americans” or something like that. It was like airplane food—its really no use talking about how bad it was.

I will resist temptation here to wax nostalgic about Cali khutbas about the Matrix or Calvin and Hobbes. They spoiled me for life, I admit, and they will always be my gold standard.

I was blessed to perform Hajj in 1999. I even performed the qurbani, something I never imagined I could stomach given my morbid fear of blood (mad props to you MDs!). But I was in a state of ihraam and I felt lifeless--an empowering feeling that gave me a chance to reflect on my mortality, my deeds, and the loves of my life (those loves being all things good, bad and in between including family, friends, and yes, material/worldly trappings like possessions, ego, etc).

I loved sitting with the hujaaj in Saudi and asking them about their pilgrimages. Each had his/her own story and his/her own miracle. I remember people used to ask me if I felt any miracle on Hajj.

But really what is a miracle? If it’s enough for me to count as special, is it wrong to consider it a blessing from Allah?

For me, it was praying fajr and hearing Shaikh Sudais recite my favorite Sura Al Buruj. I just love how that Sura uses the word “Al Wadud” (the loving). The other miracle was staying with Pakistani taxi drivers on Hajj—something that profoundly changed how I view the Middle East, Pakistan and human rights.

Sometimes I wish Muslims would speak more anecdotally. Khateebs often need not to dig through books of hadith, tafseer or fiqh for material. Tell us something that moved you, that inspired you and speak with humility--chances are it will move us too.

For me, Eid al Adha has always been tied to our beloved Imam Husayn (as). On the day of Arafah on Hajj, I remember reciting the Dua of Imam Husayn (as). It’s a moving dua and its also moving that we had to recite our prayers in a hushed voice so that the Saudi religious Gestapo would not stop or beat us.

For me, Eid Al Adha has always been tinged with sadness because I am forced to think of what happened to Imam Husayn just weeks later. I have always maintained that the tragedy of Kerbala is not that Imam Husayn died but that he had to die—that the community had reached such a nadir that it required his shahadat to breathe life back into it.

As a Shia, I think the question becomes not only would we brave like Prophet Ibrahim (as) but would we journey like Imam Husayn (as)?

Sometimes it’s a question too weighty to consider.