Oh, my ego has been bruised. Somebody was looking for Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” published by the Folio Society in 1971. They typed “the idiot folio” into their search engine and Google suggested me. Naturally, I am mortally offended, but in truth Google is right. Feelings are of no concern to the algorithms that index our lives.
Witness the growing chasm between the learned and the commoner. With puffed up pride the former addresses the latter thus: “I am, I am, I am.” Continue reading “Pride (in the name of love)”
I searched in vain amongst my brethren for a modicum of sympathy, or mere mention, for three hundred lives lost in a moment of barbaric insanity. Years ago it was decided, “To condemn is to admit responsibility.” Hogwash. A month ago, when a white supremacist cut down fifty souls gathered for Friday prayers in two mosques on the other side of the globe, local Christians came to our mosque to stand in solidarity and affirm, “Peace!” as they shook our hands on our way out. Is the silence I perceive because we have become too self-absorbed to notice the suffering of others, or am I merely out of touch? Perhaps it is the latter, which is why I search in vain, looking to the wrong spokesmen to speak up. Show me the profound words of solidarity.
They reject the presumed innovation of praying for forgiveness on the night of 15 Shaban, but embrace the innovation of suicide bombing without pause. Rebels without a cause.
These inner conversations. Momentarily it occurs to me that I am free of certain sins. Finally I have broken the yoke. Alhamdulilah.
Yesterday, as I wandered through the graveyard on my way home from Friday prayer, a fellow visiting his father’s grave decided to share his interesting insights with me.
“You are not alone in not being able to understand the imam,” he said. Apart from a handful of old men, nobody can understand the imam! If he momentarily skips into Punjabi, then there is hope for the second generation, now in their 40s and 50s. But the Urdu flies over their heads. As for anyone under 30: they understand a little of the mother tongue, but are too embarrassed to speak in the language, their grasp of it too broken.
In short, the imam is a leader of men who cannot understand him. In this, we are all in the same boat. There may have been a conclusion to follow, but alas our conversation ended there, for he arrived at his father’s grave and we went our separate ways.
I took his words as encouragement: chin up, perhaps. Or: you’re not alone.
I feel like I have wasted years of my life with this thing we call traditionalism, which in reality is just an invention of the internet, imagined to frame the context in which we find ourselves.
Don’t let your fear of people hold you back. Don’t succumb to intimidation. Be true to yourself, even if this means you walk alone.
Every spoken word has context. Nothing said endures in isolation. You can speak the truth, but still have an ulterior motive. You can be both good and bad, both sincere and insincere, depending on the urge of the moment. You can be both a voice in the wilderness and the wilderness. You can be both a hero and a demon. As the poet says: To good and evil equal bent, and both a sinner and a saint!