Unlike the 14-inches plus snow on the streets of New England states up north, it’s a beautiful Florida winter afternoon here; abundant warm sunshine, with nothing but blue in the skies. I am in the middle of giving profuse thanks to Allah for this blessing when Mullah Mchungu calls on WhatsApp with his usual haughtiness and aplomb; I am beginning to detest this free app. There is no sallam, no greeting, no asking about my health or wellbeing.
Kisukaali! What in the world is going on at HIC in Sanford? Are you all insane?
Before I can respond, he rants off. This World Federation guy came to talk about Khojaism? Really? And you guys allowed him? Have you guys gone nuts…
Mullah, Mullah, I intervene sternly, the gentleman is not from World Federation, he is doing the project solo. He has a lot of research data and is an upright and respectable member of our WF fraternity. He is simply reminding us of our Khoja identity and history, our contribution to both the Shia faith and the enormous philanthropic contribution to the society at large. He was here especially for our youths…
Aree ghadhera, the Mullah snorts in contempt and ire, did the virtuous guy tell you of the dark side of the Khojas? The racism and arrogance they still walk around with? I know the youths were bored beyond tears. They are not interested, they don’t care! Aree, why don’t guys get it? Khojaism is dead. The Khoja identity, particularly in the West, is gasping its last breath, not unlike the fresh changu I purchase at Dar es Salaam fish market. Like Gujarati, or Kutchi, or Kiswahili – almost gone and will disappear with the next couple of generations! I know it is comforting to hang on to the identity of your past, but it is as futile as the man who has lost his hair and obstinately, unconvincingly covers the naked scalp with side sweeps, it’s a losing battle, Baba. Unpalatable as this fact is, it’s reality.
The Mullah stops to catch his breath. It’s a good time to change the subject.
How are you doing Mullah sahib, how is your health?
Why do you care, hmmm? My health will be restored when and if we Khojas wake up and smell the rot in us. Muslims are a single Ummah, as the Prophet wanted us to be. You should know. I read your Blog on your West African trip. We are flourishing there, without a single Khoja. We have more Ahlebeyti Muslims in one West African country than all East Africa combined. Ten times more, even. Let us not bury our heads in the muck and get rid of the blinders on our eyes. The love of Ahlebeyt is not Khoja exclusive. Our current Imam is not a Khoja, thank Allah; we are not even a fraction of the total world’s Ahlebeytis and the faster we grasp this fact, the better it will be for our future. Yes, Allah has bestowed upon us administrative discipline and wealth. We cannot take the money to our graves, so we give it away, for our own ransom, nothing else. We can impart our organizational acumen to others and make that part of our legacy, good as gold; cashable on the Reckoning Day.
I have several counter arguments, but there is nothing to say that can or will change this old man’s paradigm, so I stay mum. I am glad he has ranted and tired; maybe he’ll go to sleep now; it’s way past midnight in Dar.
It is the wafaat night of S. Fatema (a), and Nakshawaani is in town to recite. So HIC is naturally packed chockablock; harassed volunteers struggle to accommodate all the vehicles trying to fit into the now obsolete parking grounds. I look forward to listening to the guy; his excellent knowledge about the Quraan and Hadeeth is novel. His subject matters almost always stir healthy debate and or controversies; a subject of many lively baraazas. We all know how contemporary he is, both in outlook and personal aura. Mashaa’Allah, his tattooed arms keep me in rapt attention; I can’t seem to take my eyes off them. Mashaa’Allah.
The guy does not disappoint. His main topic, regarding the supposed putdown of women in Shia Islam, seems, to me, an appeasing subject. For women. Please, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for women’s rights and advancement of the (mostly) gentler sex who have been denied many rights for too long. Nakshwaani opines that qualified Mujtahidas should be allowed the rank of Maraaji’ taqleed; this, despite the unanimous contrary opinion of all high tier Maraaji’. He further states that the hadeeth supportive of disallowing a qualified Mujtahida the rank of a Maraaji’ taqleed should be discarded as unconvincing or unsupportive. Nakshwaani lists several wobbly excuses to support his theory.
I can see that Nakshwaani has touched on a delicate, rather, a dicey subject. The crowd that sits for lectures outside the main hall is usually rowdy and distracting, parents yapping away while their kids disrupt with play and teenager’s noses buried in cell phones or gossip. Not today, everybody is magically engrossed. Nice.
Now, my knowledge of Islam is rudimentary, hardly nowhere near Nakshwaani. But Allah has given me common sense, alhamd’Allah. And logic tells me there are areas (and times) where we must defer to individuals who are very high in the levels of taqwa and have spent all their lives in the study of Islamic jurisprudence. Yes, women are our equal in every sense, yes, they have been denied rights and yes we men must accept them as equals or superior in knowledge and taqwa, when this is indeed a fact. Remember, a woman can be a Maraaji’ when she elevates to that position, but she cannot be a Maraaji’ taqleed. However, we, I, cannot compromise Islamic laws and common sense logic for appeasement, no matter what worldly kudos this brings us.
S. Fatema’s (a) status was way beyond that of a Maraaji’. Her blessed station was hallowed, beyond our thinking or imagination. Her knowledge was beyond compare; exquisitely superior. Yet, Allah, in His wisdom, did not give her the rank of an Imam. She, blessed be her soul, was an infallible, the mother of our Imams (a) the wife of an Imam (a) and the very part of the Holy Prophet’s (a) eye; yet, Imamat was not granted her, only to the man she married and those men from her progeny. Enough said. There are areas we should not question and or debate. I believe this is one of them?