A Wanting Dream From The Past
I am a dreamer, have always been one. It is the easiest way to turn off the evil and troubles in the current day dunya and return to the carefree, innocent life of yesteryears. Usually, these trances are a sure cure for my doldrums and I feel better afterward. Not today, however, for the dream turns into a nightmare and almost drowns me in despair.
In my reverie, I am a budding 16-year old teenager all over again, full of energy, (and abundant scalp hair), hope, inspiration and want to change the world…for the better. So, I look up to my heroes that I will try and emulate when I grow up, when it is my turn to lead my Khoja community. Yusuf Sherriff Dewji is my favorite, but there are others, as inspiring and wholesome. Bwana Ali, Yusuf’s brother, Mullah Asghar, of course, M. D. Kermali, Akber Mehta…
All seasoned and responsible adults, Allah fearing, leading their respective jamaats in goodness and what is right, to serve with pride and honor – certainly not to win popularity contests. Not green wannabes, seeking attention; untested and wobbly. These leaders are not dreary and yawn inducers, no-no; they are active on many fronts. As sportsmen, volunteers, vigorous Golden Crescent Group participants, and organizers, entertainers…in the front lines.
At the Arusha Cricket grounds, I will bat as gracefully as Yusufbhai someday or pulverize terrified bowlers with sixes as Basheer Tejani does. I will debate as articulately and forcefully but calmly as Bwana Ali, I will give fiery inspirational speeches like Mullah Asghar (not from the mimbur, however). I will lead with responsibility and wisdom, appreciating that we are all Allah’s creations, offspring of a larger family.
If there are flare-ups or nasty disagreement between members in my community, some of them heated and mean, almost all petty, I will be there in an instant, calming tempers and egos. Like M. D. Kermalli, I will humbly beg the agitated members to forgive and look ahead. I will explain that tiffs are normal, like in any large family, especially Khojas. I will not puff up in pride and begin a march out of the center, taking gullible or misinformed relatives with me. I will plead and implore with the feuding parties to take a step back and reassess, give time for mediation, and never renege on an agreement.
If I am made the President or CEO, like Mullah Asghar, I will exercise justice and not let others influence my decisions for a few moments of passing fame. No sir, I will aim high and try to divide mountains or seas for the salvation and progress of my folks, like Prophet Musa (a) did, and never divide communities. If Allah grants me an expensive and beautiful gift to safe-keep for His pleasure and remembrance, why, I’ll love it to death and guard it with all my might, and never let it go. I’ll dare anyone to order me out of Allah’s or the Aimaa’s (a) house. I will use my community’s resources judicially and not enrich outside professionals at the expense of other more pressing public needs.
I will keep my congregation’s head held high in the local community and not sully it with shouting matches in the vicinity and sanctity of an Imambargah, the house of our beloved Imams (a). No-no, this is not what my heroes do, teach or instill in me. Our Imams (a) are models for me, like Mullah Asghar reminds me constantly, for me to obey and follow; such that the wider public would want to mimic me. Not like some seedy joint downtown, where cop cars speed to because tempers and voices cannot be kept in check. Or phone in anonymous death threats to others who choose to worship elsewhere, or some other dreadful nonsense… How utterly shameful would that be, no?
Just a mere snip of this nasty impossible scenario from my dream is enough to startle me awake. I am drenched with sweat and my heartbeats are pumping away like the hands of a tipsy tabla player. I look around wildly and try and calm myself down. It’s only a dream Yusufali, I assure myself, only a dream. Phew, I am so relieved. This phase in my life will pass as well, insha’Allah, and the wrongs afflicted to my community will be righted with Allah’s granted wisdom and taufeeq.
Now, let me turn my attention to more pressing issues – Listen baana, India has banned the export of raw onions as prices throughout the country have shot through the roof of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Railway Station. This is a colossal calamity, no less. I hope Persian Darbar does not begin rationing the delicious baby pickled ones they serve with their signature chicken tandoori, I’ll be a sorry wreck for sure.
Vivid Imaginations – A Memoir
$66,000 has already been raised from the pre-sale booking of Vivid Imaginations – A Memoir. It is a recount of a memorable life of a Khoja Muslim with Gujarati genes, born and reared in E. Africa, migrating to the Middle East and then to the US. A frank and self-critical account, funny yet somber and very telling. A not to be missed read insha’Allah. You can read a brief preview here.
This will be a limited print issue, only 320 copies (284 already booked). All proceeds, 100%, benefit CAI’s circa 600 orphans worldwide. Please purchase a copy or more for $50 (or more) each? For legal and administrative purposes, the donation is not tax-deductible and must be purchased online at bit.ly/VividImaginations. Allah bless.
Please note this book will be published end of the year 2019 and mailed immediately thereafter. Insha’Allah.