Will my Imam (a) Be Pleased?
I’ve just concluded a busy day commemorating Ashura. What with the a’amaals and emotional drain from reenacting the brutal slaying of my beloved Imam (a) and the violation of his family’s rights, I am exhausted. So I return home from Masjid al Hayy, a short distance away, and fall into a reverie.
In this dream, I’m joined by Mullah Mchungu, who, wordlessly, appears by my side, grasps my hand and pulls me up, up, up, so we float away into the fluffy clouds above Sanford and beyond. The Mullah is grinning at me and it dismays and shocks me. Surely, he should be in a somber mood, today being Ashura? Then I realize it’s his dentures that are grinning at me, not him; he has no control over the ghastly fangs; I shudder.
He pulls me over Iraq, over Karbala, where we peer over the remains of a stampede that took the lives of over 30 zawwars. A sad tragedy, no less, for humanity, everyone. However, a Facebook message earlier today informs me that all the Khojas in a ziyaarat group are safe, alhamd’Allah. As if the ones who perished were inconsequential cockroaches. Mashaa’Allah, what a wonderful mindset; will my Imam (a) be pleased?
The Mullah points down, tugs at my hand sharp until it hurts. I want to yell at him to quit, but he pokes down frantically. I see two armed men, revolvers in hand, waving for the crowds to clear and make space. Then an older man, wise and pious from the white in his beard and the wrinkles on his forehead, points the gun at his compatriot, and fires, shouting Ya Hussein! The azadaar staggers but is alive! The essence of azaadari is intact, no? Mashaa’Allah; will my Imam (a) be pleased?
We return to Sanford and hover over Husseini Islamic Center and Masjid al Hayy. It is almost magreeb and members are flowing in, getting ready for another session of lectures and azaadari in honor of Abaa Abdillah Hussein (a). Wait a minute, there seems an anomaly here. Families united at home part ways and some are dropped at HIC before heading out to Hayy, and vice versa. Husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and offspring, disunited by religion and in the supposed love of one Allah, one Quraan, same prophets (a) same ahlebeyt (a). Wow, Mashaa’Allah; will my Imam (a) be pleased?
Even in my dream, I feel a disconnect, an unease, a pain, a restlessness, suffocation. I look at the Mullah, but all I see is this mirthless grin on his macabre face. We come down to earth and spend some time sitting, listening and observing the azaadars both at HIC and at Hayy. The few minutes we spend are telling. Amongst the swirling vapors from countless e-cigarettes, smoke from lit ones and suspicious stares, there are careless whispers. Ahsant! will my Imam (a) be pleased?
Why is this dude here? Does he not belong to the other side? His father is staunchly in the other camp! Look at her here! Shameless. Coming here, listening to us talk and then going over and spilling the beans there. Guess what they had for dinner? Azeem’s chicken. Greasy, but good. What did you think of Musti’s daal? Phoos-phoos, phoos-phoos. Mashaa’Allah; will my Imam (a) will be pleased?
We secretly follow the two shaykhs, Abbas Jaffer and Alihussein Datoo, both caught between a rock and a hard place, as they dispense their duties at reconciliation. They are Allah fearing people, out to change hearts and mindsets, and reform the few of us who are playing this divisive, dirty game. They take to the mimbur, cajole and caution. Earlier, there was brief hope and elation that Ashura and Shaam e Ghareeba programs will be in unity, shared between centers. But the Shaytaan wins big, yet again. There are people from outside our core faith in the audience, come to pay their condolences and respects to the family of the Prophet (s); they seem bewildered at the petty quarrels and asinine mindsets that the Sheykhs alludes to. Mashaa’Allah; will my Imam (a) be pleased?
Mullah Mchungu leads me away from the lights and into the shadows. He is blazing mad, trembling. When he opens his mouth, the dentures click and the lips are foaming with spit that sprinkles on me when he speaks. I try and attempt to get my handkerchief out to clean the mess, but I seem hypnotized by the Mullah’s fiery demeanor, unable to move.
See, Kisukaali, see? He says flailing his arms around his head and then poking a finger in my chest. Are you proud of yourself? See what your ego did to a budding community? Good, a very good example for your children, no? I am so disappointed and ashamed of you. Trying to save the world, saving people thousands of miles away. Do something here, at home, ghadheera! Remember, he wags a quivering, bony finger near my nose. What goes around comes around. You think a new center will save you or your imaan? Your children? Think again! The man spent 20 – 25 million on this beautiful mosque. Is it full? It’s Ashura no, should be teeming with people. It’s half-empty! Same will happen with your new center, you’ll see. I guarantee. You go ahead and if others don’t split from you the same way you did here, come spit on my grave.
And just as suddenly, the Mullah is gone, taking his grinning dentures with him.
Hey! I scream, but no sound comes from my mouth. Hey, it’s not me! I have nothing to do with this mess. I swear Mullah sahib, I swear. I’ve prayed, every day, prayed hard, beseeched Allah that we all see reason and unite again. I begin crying in my sleep. No, Mullah sahib, that’s unfair, you cannot blame me, I’m innocent, really. Listen to me…
Papa! Yusuf! Papa, Yusuf, wake up. You were having a nightmare. It’s okay. Wake up.
I open my eyes to see Tasneem and Maha Zainab’s worried face peering down at me.
Uff, I sigh a huge relief. It was a dream, a big bad dream. Everything’ll be okay. We’ll come out of this quagmire, soon insha’Allah. The Imam (a) will be pleased.
Vivid Imaginations – A Memoir
$64,000 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 (280 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 or first quarter of 2020 and mailed immediately thereafter, insha’Allah.