Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the secular uncle v. the religious youngns

assalamu alaikum :o)


an interesting thing happened this past weekend. about 20-25 guys went out to eat at Shehnai after the an islamic seminar’s daily session concluded. as we stood in line for the buffet, a middle-aged desi uncle walked in. not far behind was his caucasian begum.

after making his rounds, he cut between us to get into line, and remarked something to the effect of “hey look, what is the tablighi jamaat doing here?!?!” as people turned to look at us, the smug smirk he donned turned into outright laughter. this was followed by a quick glance toward his wife to seek her stamp of approval. Granted, she probably had no clue as to what the tablighi jamat was, or what his joke meant, but he got his point across. gori aunty’s smile bespoke of commendation. Because we donned beards, we had the same repulsive mentality of the mullahs back home. he could mock us and laugh, because, after all, we weren’t as ‘modern’ and ‘cultured’ as he was. truth be told (not that I havent been candid with you all along), I was more disappointed than angry. uncle ji, biryani belly and all, seemed to be embarrassed simply by our appearance so much so that that he didn’t want his wife to know that we were his ‘people’. poking fun gave him a medium by which he could channel his insecurity and prove a point to the wifey: that he was the paragon of assimilation, while young practicing muslims like ourselves were the furthest thing from it. we offended uncle ji, and he just had to unequivocally show to mem-saab that he was not one of us.

people are always subjected to harsh comments due to their race and/or religion.god knows I have been. though what uncle ji said may not be vitriolic speech rooted in hatred and prejudice, it is something that we should be cautious of doing.i do get condescending remarks from ‘non-practicing’ muslims. perceiving me to be self-righteous and judgmental, theyre the ones that end up passing judgment. yes, ironic. on a greater scale, belittling one another, whether one be practicing or not, is not only detrimental to our cause in establishing a muslim american identity and strong community, but also to cultivating good character. not to mention the fact that its contrary to the sunnah.

muslim and bukhari report that the prophet saw once said “let whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day speak good or remain silent.” this hadith can see seen as one promulgating the basic manners of speech between 2 people. yes, we always violate it. some more than others. but at the very least we can use it as a guide to reduce unnecessary judgmental remarks.

perhaps uncle ji’s blind complacency and insecurity will give way to a nicer, tolerant man. one that no longer has to suffer from an inferiority complex.

and Allah Almighty knows best.