As Kisukaali heads to the mosque for jumaa salaat, pregnant skies above threaten to open up any minute. About time, he reckons, the long rains for this city should have begun over a month ago; bountiful showers will cool him and the city down, insha’Allah. The Khoja masjid is packed, waiting for the tarrying Aghaa to show up; the community is back to pre-COVID levels – finally. The lecturing Aghaa is a fine, handsome, elegant man, a Pakistani original, but has made the UK his permanent home. His English is fluent, and he is articulate. He starts off by talking about the must care for orphans, a subject close to Kisukaali’s heart. The Aagha reminds the congregation to be always Allah-conscious. Amen. Then, he suddenly takes off to la-la-land – and thokam-thok; not to return back on earth.
- Aagha opines that 20 million people died of hunger in 2020. Not true, by a wide margin. Nobody knows the exact number but the people whose business it is to know put it at about 4 million.
- Aagha informs the worshipers that 35 million people died of hunger in 2021. Hmm. Still not true. The worst-case number is closer to 9 million. Still terrible. Nobody should die of hunger. Aagha misread the statistics, perhaps.
- Aagha then claims that 400 million animals were burnt in Australia in 2021, and this will create severe meat shortages worldwide. This is a debatable one-man opinion and worse case estimate; not fact, and comprises, perhaps, ALL animals, including inedible ones. Kisukaali reckons people eat too much meat anyway, so that’s encouraging news, no?
- Aagha warns Kisukaali that the US, his adopted country, wants to cut the world population by 70%. By creating sickness and pandemics – read COVID. Oh, boy, what a stinker of a whopper. Kisukaali is pretty sure overwhelming evidence of the doodoo origins points to China. This allegation is so wacky, so irrational, and irresponsible, that Kisukaali wants to scream.
- Aagha claims that 50% of the American population will be wiped off due to an impending economic depression. Boy! Kisukaali is so relieved he is abroad on assignment for the near future. He’ll be saved insha’Allah? If the good Aagha’s intelligence is right, the US better hurry up. 50% of 332 million – USA’s most recent population count – is 166 million. The most pessimist number of doodoo deaths in the US as of May 7, 2022, is 1 million.
- The holy man says that a girl’s school was bombed in Kabul 3 days ago. Wrong again, it was a boy’s school. Kisukaali should know, He’s been to the school. His donors helped with major repairs, new desks, and a few computers.
- There was a bomb attack on a Shia Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan yesterday. Correct. He says over 70 people died. Wrong! Tragically, 25 innocents died, many children. Kisukaali should know, he is in daily contact with his personnel on the forefront.
- This Aagha must be a genius. He knows that the dollar will imminently decline rapidly in value, replaced by an alternate currency. Probably the Chinese Renminbi. Should he revive his currency trading and severely short the US$ and buy the Yuan instead, Kisukaali asks himself? He wishes the holy Aagha would give his recommendation on cryptocurrencies; Kisukaali may make a killing trading it.
- According to Aagha, the US dumps millions of tons of wheat in the Pacific Ocean to keep world prices high and deprive the poor. Really? Kisukaali has witnessed truckloads of American wheat making their way to the interior of Afghanistan to be distributed to the poor via the UN Food Aid Program. Perhaps it was not real? Perhaps it was Kisukaali’s dream? Yes, the US destroys certain commodities to keep local farmers happy but not at the expense of the worldwide poor. To the best of Kisukaali’s knowledge, the US is by far the biggest contributor to the UN food bank. But perhaps the Aagha knows better?
- Aagha then says that the US dumps millions of tons of cheese and butter into the Pacific Ocean – wow, lucky bloody marine animals, Kisukaali muses. No wonder the tilapias have been extra plump and taste so buttery lately. Kisukaali was wondering why; it makes sense now. Problem solved.
- The good Aagha makes so many wild claims, it makes Kisukaali’s head spin, so he stops paying attention.
- The painfully misinformed Aagha then claims he will speak his mind and is not afraid of anybody or entity. He claims that many (western) countries have either revoked or canceled his visa, but he cares not. Aree Baba, fumes Kisukaali, perhaps the countries have a reason to revoke or cancel your visa? Because of all the above?
What a shame, Kisukaali fumes in distress. Another Friday khutbah lost to blasting the West with unsubstantiated and outright irrational tirades. When will this self-deceit end? If the US, UK, and the West are so awful, what is the good man doing living in the UK? He’d surely be more comfortable in Pakistan, no?
The painful thokam-thok mercifully ends and Kisukaali completes the obligatory communal prayers. He feels so unsettled, that he wants to run away from the place. Just as he leaves the mosque, the skies open up, and weep heavy copious tears at his sheer desolation.
Regardless of Kisukaali’s utter contempt for anyone using the Prophet’s (s) pulpit to spew misinformation, half-truths, and conspiracy fallacies, he has the utmost respect for anyone or anything scholarly, especially the ulemas. They must spend years toiling over textbooks and listening to lectures. Unfortunately, obviously, this Aagha’s homework needs a lot to be desired. Kisukaali can understand the pain of the material inequality between the East and West. He can also understand, not condone, the Aagha’s desire to exaggerate perceived excesses of certain global ‘powers’ towards the painful events within the global Muslim Ummah. Even if half of what the holy man lectured on were facts, how will it help any of us in the audience, wonders Kisukaali? The blaming of all the problems facing the Muslim Umma on the West with half-truths and sensational conspiracy theories is a time-tested failure.
May Allah (s) have mercy on the Muslim Ummah, for He is the only one who can intervene and redeem our direly regressive state of affairs. May Allah grant us, and the elected officials of our jamaats, the toufeeq of making judicial choices in the selection and invitation of balanced ulemas for delivering equitable and progressive lectures.
And Allah knows best.