Our Youtube Preachers, and that old KMD Bus
In our boyhood days earth was a different planet. And on that planet the universe of our entertainment and adventure was sparsely inhabited. A travel from Srinagar's Batamaloo bus stand to a place as far away in those days as Bijbehara was a joy that lingered for days. It was no less thrilling than flying in a plane, albeit we could slide the window pans up and enjoy the breeze. With the arm majestically resting on the frame, head craned out, air hitting the face, and fanning the hair, our ecstasy matched only to Neil Armstrong's when he hit the lunar surface. It was our space travel. But this bus carried all the earthly marks that constituted our ground. It was a society in a shuttle. The text all over the ceiling panel reflected many of our preferred societal themes. From Iqbal's poetic lines atrociously mutilated to that customary warning to passengers – Sawari Apne Saaman Ki Khud Zimaidar Hai – much was painted on the bus. As carefree boys we had never anything to carry with us, so saaman ki zimadaree was no worry at all. What intrigued me always was another line on the panel - Gaadi Main Siyasi Guftugu Karna Mana Hai - No political gossiping! Like no-belongings, we carried no politics on us. Whenever I glanced at that line, it gazed back, and the two of us meant nothing to each other. Decades later the meaning struck, and struck frighteningly.
So Gaadi Main Siyasi Guftugu Karna ....... Mana thaa, Mana hai. It is an anecdotal time travel, and we are still travelling in the same old KMD bus. I hope we did no guftugu. Forget the KMD bus, and let the politics travel on her own wheels. Youtube watching is not prohibited, at least not entirely. Today's pleasure is YouTube. It has everything in it - from trivial to transcendental. It is a universe – endless on both ends. You can even watch your old KMD bus on this!
Like that KMD bus, when we search the related content on YouTube it reflects our society. It is a digital display of our societal mind. Just a day or two before, I came across a well known Kashmiri preacher talking about multiple marriages in Islam. Stop, is there anything we can call multiple-marriages-in-Islam. Not really. But the way we found mutilated lines of Iqbal on ceiling panel of a KMD bus, we encounter desecration of sublime themes, when it comes sermonising. Before the Kashmiri preacher's high pitched sermon, I hit a Pakistani preacher on the same theme. No surprises if the Kashmir version was not influenced by the Pakistani one. I'm sure we are not slipping into politics - a note of caution! We are discussing society. Strictly. Politics sai rishta kya?!
Now that we are into societal, no fears. Let's calmly listen to the preachers. A scintillating feature of our sermon makers is that they stretch to hours what can be presented in a line. And that line is this: A Muslim can, nay, must, have multiple wives. It is ordained by God, and the earliest addressees of God's revelation followed this injunction.
Then comes the obnoxious explanation. To these preachers solution to sexual perversion in our society is multiple marriages. When we block the way of a man to have more than one wife, his lust runs wild. Now the preachers have stories to narrate, and tickle the interest. It is a theatre, not of absurd, but macabre.
Let's presume there is woman in the audience and she turns around and presses the biological button. Man is not the only host to this carnal desire. Adam and Eve had together fallen for this desire. Our tele-evangelists might say anything, but all the arguments weaved in favour of man's 'divine' right to multiple marriages fall flat on the face.
I have nothing against the preachers, they are a part of our society. They are as good or as bad as the society at large is. My ache first originates from their selection of themes. As if Muslims around the world, including Kashmir, are suffering just because the man in them marries a single woman. And then, on a more serious note, does Quran promote multiple marriages. A simple reading of the Text where this theme comes into discussion, conveys the contrary. It is in the context of orphans in that small Muslim community of Prophet's time that God speaks about marrying the mothers of those orphans for the sake orphans. And there too God commands Muslims to uphold the principles of justice and safeguard the rights of those women, and never to consider it as a favour on them. Making it a difficult decision. It has nothing to do with the carnal desire of a man. That idea is an abomination of worst order. It brings disgrace to Muslim society and to Islam.
This sermonising is a disgrace in itself. Sadly, preachers abandon themselves to the excitement of the moment that they themselves generate by regaling the audience with all kinds of dramatic stuff. Look at their eyes, the expressions on face, and the body movement – it is all ablaze with charm. In this spell stuffed atmosphere anything can sell. And our society, as the society across the Line, abounds with such sermonising. Even in our stupidities we are related... oops, no politics. Siyasi Guftugu Karna Mana Hai. I seal my lips. But the bus goes on the wheels.
If we focus on society everything else will take care of itself. In that KMD bus, all the 52 passengers seated, and another 52 standing comprised our society. No matter what was written, and where, the journey never stopped. So focus on sending right signals into this society. Rather than marrying again and again, it is time to think - again and again. And to think is a divine injunction, it's an accumulated human wisdom, and there is no difference of opinion on that. Thinking brings grace to mankind.