Of Muslim Seller turning into a Jewish Shylock!
DR.JAVID IQBAL NARRATES A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ON EID-UL-AZHA WITH A HISTORICAL STUDY OF FESTIVALS!
Festivals-cultural and religious are occasions for celebrations, of fresh dress-ups, of feasts, of pomp and pageantry, of gaiety, of lights. They entail sacrifices too, as on Eid-ul-Azha or Jewish pass-over. In the post renaissance European nation states like France liberated from autocratic tyranny, post World War Second liberated States, as imperialists found it impossible to pin down people bent upon Azadi, and what is true also of post cold war liberated States of East Europe and Central Asia-liberated from Russian yoke, as U.S.S.R came apart; national days of liberation, of the framing of new constitutions are festive occasions too. So, to the traditional cultural and religious festivals got added the festivals, where patriotism comes to fore. All these high pitched occasions take quite a chunk of your earnings; however the joyful spirit takes it lightly, until the lurking Shylock comes fishing for his pound of flesh and as he spreads his net, there is no escape. He is there for picking up, much more than you might have planned to part with; hence he takes away the joy and dims the festivity of the occasion. The wise or may we say those who willingly accept the ways of our world and live with it, are ever prepared to part with a bit more than allotted budget. The hiked up estimate may vary percentage wise, depending on your wisdom. The wiser make it more elastic than those who have less wisdom vested in them. I have no hesitation in admitting that I belong to this group which is wiser, though I have lived abroad for three decades-half my life, where the sudden price hike on festive occasions is rare, and corrupt trading practices few and far between. However the Eid-ul-Azha of the year 2010 challenged elasticity to the limits of its stretch, thereby hangs a tale, I may share with you!
It so happened that a week before Eid-ul-Azha/Adha [Azha as sub continentals pronounce it, Adha-intonation of majority of Arabs] the sacrificial lambs were sold by weighing them-the price ranged from 130-140 Rs a kilogram in Srinagar. As the Eid neared, some unfortunate ones like me-poor me, egged on by my dear wife to get a lamb for heavenly blessings to follow, acted rather late. By that time, the seller had turned Shylock adamant on getting his pound of flesh-no more by weight-it is by 'Bholi', bholi meant paying double, the seller knowing your predicament and punishing you for not remembering the primary lesson 'Don't put off till tomorrow, what you can do today' had to be paid, what he would ask for. I pleaded that Islam is against undue profiting. Pat came the answer-true, but what about the large family; besides he has to cater to and has had meager earnings, during the last five months of turmoil!
A person besides me in similar predicament, by his very looks and speech looking like a good old Samaritan took to sermonizing on the supreme sacrifice offered on the great day, the event we celebrate as Eid-ul-Azha. He spoke in measured tones, a tone which took me to the biblical narration of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ by Jesus Christ/Hazrat Issa (A.S). The seller was unmoved, pronouncing in loud tones in a matter of fact statement that selling his stock of lambs cheaply over last weak or so, he has already sacrificed a lot, so no more of that as he has a life to live with his family. His strong pleas were having an affect, quite contrary to what I and the good old Samaritan besides me had hoped for. Instead of sympathizing with us, the crowd getting interested in the argument started taking his side. Their supporting plea being, if once in a year, we part with a bit more to help the seller, it wouldn’t impoverish us, perhaps the crowd had measured our capacity to pay more by our get-up. I was about to part with, what I was asked to, when the Samaritan, unable to maintain his measured tone anymore made a loud announcement-undue profiting being prohibited in Islam, he would rather skip the sacrifice ordained on Eid-al-Azha of this year. With that he hurried off in his car, I followed. What I faced at home from my wife is another story-less said of it, the better!
The Muslim seller by taking his plea to a notch higher than Shylock-the Shakespearian classic character on greed, made me remember an event of mid-nineties-1994 in fact. On a visit to my son-Wajahat studying environmental Biology in Leeds University, nevertheless equally interested in Islamic studies, particularly the Sufi lore; I strode into Islamic studies department. To my surprise, my son introduced me to students there, with Jewish sounding names like Samuel, Isaac etc. As we were leaving after a cup of coffee, I could hold it no more. ‘How come sunny’ I asked Wajahat ‘most of students have Jewish sounding names’? ‘Fact of the matter, Papa’ replied Wajahat ‘most of the students in the department are Jewish’. Seeing my bewilderment, he explained, initially equally surprised, over a period of time, as a result of friendship he had cultivated by his regular visits, the cat was let out of the bag! ‘Yes’ the Jewish students admitted ‘In order to combat Islam, they need to know it, hence the study’! I wondered, I still do, how many Muslims would willingly take up Jewish studies, in order to combat Zionism? Your answer could be as good as mine, however as I met that Muslim seller on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha, I felt that our lot hardly need to attend classes to develop Jewish traits. We could on our day, put a Shylock to shame, as the Muslim seller shy-locked the Shylock on Eid eve. However the Jews may have their Shylocks, they have their Einsteins’ too. The pros remain theirs, cons ours!
Getting to history or may we say the religious lore on festivals, none makes an impact as profound as the last day of Jesus Christ’s earthly life. Aged 33, as many accounts concur, he had barely preached for a few years in the hills of Galilee, with his twelve closest disciples in toe, chief of them being St. Peter- the big fisherman, when on a Jewish pass-over, he strode into Jerusalem, where the Rabbis-the Jewish clergy at the great temple of Solomon-Heikel Suleiman [as per the Muslim lore] had done all they could to corrupt the ten commandments-the ten principles on high thinking and clean living brought forth from Mount Sinai [Koh-i-Tur] by Moses/Hazrat Musa [A.S] where he had a glimpse of the divine light, that illuminates the universe. Unable to restrain himself, otherwise sedate Jesus turned a rebel, as he overturned the trays on which were coins of offerings-the booty in real terms of the office bearers of the great temple, though a part of it would go to maintaining the temple.
The earnings were considerable, so were the immoral practices. Jesus also set free the sacrificial animals-the lambs, the whole lot of them. For his transgression, he was taken to the court of Pontius Pilate-Roman Governor of Palestine. Accused of blasphemy-revolt against the established religion, the Jewish Rabbis obtained the verdict of ‘death on the Cross’. The Jews believed with conviction in crucifixion of Jesus and the death on cross being a curse on him, Christians too hold the belief on crucifixion; however they hold that it was redemption for sins of humanity. Al-Quran in 004.157 (An-Nisa [Women]) denies both views comprehensively:
That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
In the year 70 A.D, such a calamity struck Jerusalem, which has had no parallel, anywhere else in the world. Utter turmoil spelt fall of Jerusalem. The temple was burnt and this resulted in fall of Jewry.
Thus what came to pass on the Jewish festival, the Passover, when Jesus Christ/Hazrat Issa [A.S] rebelled against unwarranted practices, against undue profiting, unhealthy tradition overtaking the purity of original message has a lesson-there is price to be paid for it-utter turmoil spells the fall!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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