Whenever I read George Bernard Shaw saying, Islam is the best religion and Muslims are the worst people, it makes me angry. Be it the international scene or our closed communities, does Shaw metaphor stick to us [and stinks too?]
I used to feel much hurt with Shaw and even tried stop talking to him [such a womanly thing you know!]; I mean reading this Shaw of a man. But wiser counsel prevailed and a little contemplation as to what made him say what he had said; began.
This malaise….Is it limited to Muslims alone? Does it not affect people of other faiths? But the general impression [and strong assumption!] the world over is why don’t the Muslims practise what they preach? It’s difficult to gauge the complete picture but I am sharing a few interesting anecdotes, that might throw some light on the issue.
A young man, son of a colleague, well placed, celebrated the completion of his 25 years, on the face of the earth. I knew his mother was anxiously searching for a bride as the man had declared; he wanted to marry at 25.
Why, because it’s Sunnah. ( Practice of Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H.)
My question to him was; Has he found his Khadeejah? i.e. Is the girl he intends to marry a widow? He looked shocked for a moment, whilst his mother’s face went dark. I told them, Prophet P.B.U.H. when he turned 25, married a twice widowed woman who was 15 years older than him and also had children! Their faces shrank like mangoes do after you squeeze the juice out of the ripe ones.
Prophet Muhammad’s P.B.U.H. was fifteen years younger to his first wife H. Khadijah RA who was forty when she got married for the third time. As mentioned earlier, before marrying him, she had been widowed twice and had children from her previous husbands. Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. was the most eligible bachelor of Makkah. His people revered him for being the most truthful pious young man. Our young men while stressing their desire to follow a sunnah and marry at 25 conveniently forget the other crucial part of the sunnah; that of him marrying a twice widowed woman with children.
These twenty-fivers wish to follow the sunnah and feel proud of it. They must know that Muhammad P.B.U.H marrying at 25 didn’t fall prey to his nafs; he could have married a younger unmarried woman but preferred an elderly lady twice widowed. Which one of our young men would follow this? Such partial following of sunnah, partial interpretation and wishful thinking distorts this noble concept. It should be kept in mind that, Widow Remarriage has been highly recommended by our Prophet PBUH, to the extent that we have been told never to delay it, once we get a suitable match for her.
Look around and see for yourself, how many Muslim widows remarry? How many of them get suitable proposals for starting a new life again? The percentage is almost nil. Our women have to swallow the bitter pill of widowhood and continue to remain in the same comatose state. The reasons are numerous and apart from caring for young children, another valid reason is the cruel fact that women in our ultra orthodox society are expected to remain widows and never encouraged to speak about what they really would like to do with their lives. Allah Almighty has bestowed each one of us with needs and wants, why then it’s only the women who are sacrificed at the altar of the family honor.[ and by the way what is the definition of family honor? When a man marries second third, the honor seems to increase, you mean?] More cruel is their saying; What can she do now? It was Allah’s wish to make her a widow, now she should be content with her fate. What can she do???
Why can’t she re- marry!!!
While a widower is encouraged most enthusiastically for the next hitch, it’s almost impossible to imagine the same for a woman. Women’s attitude is also responsible for this. Due to their heightened sense of modesty; they are reluctant to articulate their aspirations. Our mental conditioning has been such that we simply refuse to acknowledge a most human need, the need to have a companion. We women have been conditioned that way. We see our aunts, mothers, sisters, friends go on a lonely voyage after deaths of their husbands. Only a few lucky women whose households, families are caring enough; get to live another chance at marital bliss. The few men who agree to marry a widow refuse to take care of her children and it’s a universally known fact that no mother wants to be separated from her offspring/s. There are numerous cases of our respected Sahaabiyaat RA [Women who have witnessed the era of the Prophet P.B.U.H] getting married after being widowed.
In yet another case, a big scrap dealer in my city named Sadiq was being interviewed by a local Marathi daily. The subject was preparation for Ramzan. He was speaking impromptu or so it seemed.
In Ramzan, Mr.Sadiq was saying, during the day when I am fasting, I don’t do business . I don’t attend my shop. I go only in the evening after I break the fast. Quite naturally the next query was, why should it be so. You know you can’t speak lies or misinform people during fast; it breaks the fast. And here we have to deal with our customers, you know. This is business, you know. There is cheating and lies in business. Hence I go to my shop, only after I break the fast.
I wonder if you could imagine the expression of that poor interviewer. I could not. Any which way he proved true to his name which was Sadiq, one who speaks the truth. He spoke one truth after all, that he didn’t want to cheat while fasting. But Ramzan being the month of training for the rest of the 11 months; shouldn’t its spirit be carried throughout the year? But here this Merchant of Ramzan, didn’t wish to carry it even seconds after he broke his fast! This intensely felt incongruity in his words perhaps tells us what is actually wrong with us. This is what we all have become.
Sadiq the Merchant of Ramzan, perhaps gave it without realizing it. But there are others who hide behind the thin veneer of words and preach what they don’t practise.
This is sad.
Same is the case of those of our kids who think nothing of cheating during exams. The human supervisor is feared while the divine the supreme of the supreme Supervisor, up above their heads, is wonderfully forgotten.
I used to hear my grandmother tell me a story quite often.
Once a woman came to a pious old man. Her young son had the habit of eating too much sweets and she wanted him to advise her son. The old man asked her to come after a week. , Son, do not eat too much of sweets ,its bad for you. After a week he told. Why couldn’t he advise the same earlier, when they visited him last and why the old man made her do another long trip to his place? The woman thought. When asked, the old man bowed down his head, and spoke thus:
When you came here last, I myself was into the habit of eating too much of sweets. Hence I was not in the position to advise your son. In the last seven days since you left, I have myself stopped using the thing and now feel myself a little better to be advising the kid.
How I wish that showman of English literature Mr. George Bernard Shaw had met this old pious man. Then he would not have said, Islam is the best religion with the worst followers.
Even if only once.
By: Asma Khan