Thursday, 2 September 2010
A Face-Saving Light
This is the month of Ramadan (Muslims remain without food and water from before dawn until sunset) and with so much happening in the world, sometimes it is hard to pick the subject for a fresh blog. Hence, I do not face a writer’s block but only fatigue that requires rest. The Eid festival marks the end of the month long fasting, which is announced upon sighting the crescent for the Islamic month of Shawwal. For all religious events, Muslims follow the lunar calendar.
First came, the awful monsoon floods and all the destruction whose bill we all will be paying for the next few years. Then we saw the Sialkot killings of two young boys. And the cricket scandal in England in which Pakistani players were allegedly involved in shady deals. Just last night, multiple suicide attacks took place in Lahore and Karachi in which scores of Shi’a Muslims died or got injured while attending Ali ibn Abi Talib’s death anniversary. Considering the security situation, they all should have stayed home instead of publicly mourning the slaying of a great figure of Islam.
So what do we have here? One fifth of Pakistan is under water, the judicial system is in dire straits, our food chain is quite literally broken, flood-effected people are homeless, thousands are feared missing, out of frustration some are lynching others or attacking the custodians of law, suicide bombers are exploding themselves, doctors are getting themselves beaten up for professional negligence, and inflation is getting out of control. But do we not have broadband internet and FaceBook?
Does it not feel as if everybody wants to migrate to America? No, that is not true, no matter how much the ex-pats weep for their ex-compatriots; 170 million people still live here without having Green Cards. The end of the world is not around the corner and I tell the morose that despondency is never a problem-solver. Not crutches, but self-help is the answer; holding one’s proud head high is the solution. While the poor remain more patient and patriotic, the rich elites repeatedly sell them off to the lowest bidder.
And life goes on. Fashion show catwalks are alive with party animals, and a hundred TV channels continue spewing worthless breaking news. These news updates break peoples’ emotional backs because after sampling a dose, one feels like breaking open the skulls of the fast-talking presenters and those of the worthless commentators. Not much will be done, yet everything gets airplay for hours.
The mosques here are so full of the faithful these days, more so in the nights, because everyone is busy finding the elusive Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr) during the last ten odd nights of Ramadan. The Qur’an claims in Chapter 97, verse 3: “The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months” because messenger Muhammad (peace on him) received his first revelations through angel Gabriel.
At the cost of admitting personal failure, I have not found one such night. I asked a friend if he had found it and he admitted he had. Then he narrated a Ramadan night’s tale.
“I saw a strange beautiful light envelope me for a few minutes around dawn. It wasn’t the sun or the stars, just milky white light that nobody else saw. I went to a holy man later on and he confirmed that I had been blessed”, he claimed.
As I probed his mind regarding the effect the light might have had on his life and on those around him, he became irritable and lost all composure that one expected from an almost holy man. Soon thereafter, I left him alone, for he was a lost man who needed to find a truer night than the one that he claimed he had seen.
It is getting dark now and I must switch on the lights around the house; these will be energy-saving lights. I must work hard in my laboratory to soon invent face-saving lights.