One of my childhood friends had a glorious voice. She used it to recite naatain at any given chance she got. Her favourites were Zah-e-Muqqadar and Fasloon Ko Takaluf Hai Hum Sey Agar. I mention this here, today, because it is 12 Rabi ul Awwal, and it feels like the Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) birthday has become a marketing strategy for so many religious factions who are in a race to do one up on their rivals by holding a bigger Milaad gathering. There was one near my new home the other day, and what was being recited on the microphone neither moved me nor convinced me that I should be paying attention to this recitation.
Now, my friend, when she recited these Naatain, with her big eyes shut tight, her small hands clutching her neatly set dupatta tightly, her slim, small body swaying back and forth with an internally organized rhythm, moved people to tears. Even me, in my self-imposed phase of indifference (age 13; it’s a tough time for anyone). I can admit to this now without embarrassment. And I think I had to admit it because the world has suddenly taken a strange turn. We are now all collectively embarrassed about owning up to our harmless religious pageantry because it has been hijacked by people who have taken it away from childlike adoration to rabid fanaticism. It is a shame. I don’t know what can be done about this, only that I am currently listening to Qari Waheed’s beautiful rendition of Fasloon Ko Takaluf Hai Hum Sey Agar, and I am quietly content about knowing the worth of personal faith.
And for anyone out at this time in Lahore, or any city of Pakistan: please stop and take a look at the ‘pahadis’ the children make to celebrate the Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) birthday. It’s all beautiful because it is somewhat removed from the politics of religious factionism and fanaticism. And while you are doing that, have heart. Perhaps there will be a time to be good again. I hope we are all around to see it.
There is no dedication on this post, but it is partially written for my friend Ambreen, who made me understand that you don’t need to have a voice like a nightingale to sing about the things you love. You just need to sing.
Badshahi Mosque; photo taken on 11th October, 2011, at 5:42 PM.