Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

What the mullah wants

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In the local mosque (one of about 30 in a radius of 200 metres), the mullah makes full and unlawful use of his public address system (eight loudspeakers) to broadcast his dua following this Friday prayer. I wish I could get the local corrupt and inefficient police to register a case of blasphemy against the man.

My reason is simple: God assures us repeatedly in the Quran that He is Samee and Baseer – the Seer and the Hearer. So when He is aware of everything, isn’t the mullah committing the worst blasphemy by screaming at God? This daily screaming from the pulpit by the PA system is a plain and simple affront to the Almighty who knows your deepest thought without the amplifier. Who will wake up to this great blasphemy and put the beard behind bars and then have him extricated from the lock-up by an enraged crowd of 50,000 mostly drug addicts and thugs so that he can be beaten to death with bricks and clubs?

To deny the powers that God tells us He possesses is the most horrible blasphemy possible. But as I always say, disguise blasphemy with a veneer of religiosity and you can get away with the worst of it. And none better at this stratagem than the illiterate mullah.

But what really caught my attention today was the mullah begging God to give him rizq e halal – honest wages. Why did he have to pray for honest wages? Who or what is keeping him from making an honest living that he needs God’s intercession? The act of earning a decent living or otherwise is not an act of God; it is within the province of even the most corrupt politician, general, bureaucrat and policeman. To pursue it requires no direct intervention from a higher being.

Yet the mullah repeated himself thrice. To me that meant this was a much desired wish of the man. Or is it only to mouth piety devoid of sincerity? As pointed out decades ago by that most astute writer, Ibn e Insha, one prays only for what one does not possess. Therefore, it is clear that the mullah is conscious of the fact that he is not making an honest living. That there is something wrong with his earning; that it is illegal, undeserved and therefore haram. That can be the only reason he is begging God to give him an honest living.

Why does he not take the simple step of righting this great wrong himself – especially when he is conscious of it? Why must God guide his hand to a halal income? If you ask me, all this broadcasted orison is just a show. It is insincere as insincere can ever be. The mullah has free time between the dawn and the noon prayers, what keeps him from being a daily wage earning labourer in this period? His prayer for rizq e halal is the crudest hypocrisy he can ever practice in this hypocritical society.

Let me take you back about ten years. My dear friend Helga Ahmed took me to village Maira which lies some ways out of Rawalpindi on the road past Dhamial Air Base and to Chakri interchange (M-2). Having finished our work, we walked past a tailor’s shop and our local guide casually mentioned that the tailor was also the village mosque imam. Strange village. It had only one mosque and the imam worked as a tailor, I thought.

The man was at his cutting table and we paused to have a chat. I forget the name of this good and decent man who had trained as a cutter even as he did his seminary course some years earlier. If memory serves, he was from somewhere in Kashmir. He led the five daily prayers in the mosque and in between worked as the village’s only tailor to make a decent living. And he worked seven days a week.

Who has ever heard of a toiling mullah? He was an anomaly and I couldn’t help being frivolous. I said it would be a better life if he lived like every other mullah. Handouts of daily food and money every Ramzan and Eid for clothing from his flock would keep him well-fed and clothed. In our screwed up and hypocritical society, I said, he should exploit our belief that feeding the mullah who leads us in prayer earns merit with God. There would be plenty of food and money to make him as corpulent as all mullahs and even give him a chequered head scarf (colour scheme yellow). The givers meanwhile would be satisfied that their way to paradise was ensured.

Very solemnly he said, ‘May God never make me do such a thing.’ I knew then that this good and pious man will never have to beg God for rizq e halal. He was earning it himself.


posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 2 September 2013 at 07:19, Blogger Unknown said...

On the dot again sire, bravo. though regretfully much of it is plain truth we as a nation are yet to see the light!

At 2 September 2013 at 11:06, Anonymous Tariq Malik said...

We are generally thoughtless souls and that's the main problem. For we are programmed this way. Never to think, nor to question a thing, right from the cradle and onwards. Fed mostly on false / concocted traditions and distorted history, the trouble stems from our elementary education. How, then, a person raised in seminaries--that most miserable class of institutions where to question is to commit heresy, can be expected to produce prayer-leaders any different from what we generally observe them to be? What else the loudspeaker, that "Aalaa-i-Saut-ul-Mukabbir," ironically once labeled as Haraam (for emitting Satan's voice?) by the same class, would ejaculate other than venom, hatred, blind convention, and thoughtless supplications? Only to be echoed by soulless Aameen by equally thoughtless muqtadees--the blind followers. 

In the end, it's like Imam, like Muqtadees. No difference! The timeless Quranic exhortation--that gist of its glorious message لقوم يتفكرون (for those who think)--has long been forgotten. 

How right Iqbal was:

تیرا امام بے حضور ، تیری نماز بے سرور
ایسی نماز سے گزر ، ایسے امام سے گزر

At 2 September 2013 at 20:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am against anyone who assumes monopoly of anything what to talk of religion.

At 2 September 2013 at 20:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

تیرا امام بے حضور ، تیری نماز بے سرور

ایسی نماز سے گزر ، ایسے امام سے گزر

At 3 September 2013 at 10:12, Anonymous Ramla said...

We, unfortunately, have allowed mullah to trespass into our lives and now mullah is exploiting.

At 5 September 2013 at 15:29, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

And why shouldn't the mullah exploit? Poor, disinherited, powerless, hungry, sexually abused in his school, he suddenly sees the power of the pulpit. He will not give in easily. He has to be exterminated. As Anonymous says above, this is what we are led by.

At 12 September 2013 at 09:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mullah wants! Problem is that we give.


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

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Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

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