Eid and Hajj Greetings from ATP

Posted on December 20, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, About ATP, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Many of us living in North America (though not all it seems) celebrated Eid yesterday (Wednesday). Some others in Europe and elsewhere are celebrating today, while others celebrated yesterday. Most in Pakistan (but, again, not all) will celebrate tomorrow (Friday). Hajis are finishing off Hajj as I write. To all of them we at ATP wish a very happy Eid and Haj felicitations. Whether you choose to spell it Eid, or Id, or Eed or anything else, we wish you well and we wish you the best.

Hajj pilgrimage Mecca Kaaba

The dilemmas of multiple Eids (which we have written about before) is now a well-rehearsed cacophony, a mandatory topic of discussion, a reminder of our collective disarray, and a pesky but now familiar nuisance. But this time Eid seems to have taken on a more disturbing, even sinister, undertone.

Eid greetings from ZakintoshThe gloom of Pakistan’s disturbed politics had already sapped an entire people of their self-confidence and sense of common purpose, but recent reminders of the culture of violence that we have bred have left us numb. As if to remind us of our multiple predicaments Eid this time is preceded by the two shocking stories about the tragic train crash of the Karachi Express and the murder of Gulgee and his wife and housemaid. Of course, Sahir has said this in a very different context, but I am reminded nonetheless of his verse: Tou dil taab-i-nishaat-i-bazm-i-ishrat laa nahiN sakta / meiN chahouN bhi tou khaab-awar taranay gaa nahiN sakta.

But, today, let us pause for a moment. Not to sing “khaab-awar taranay“, but to let the significance of this day help us deal with the dilemmas we are in. The mood being what it is, it was difficult to think of something uplifting to write. So, I went pack to our previous Eid posts and tried to see if hat would help me. There are some things there, I think, which are as relevant today as then; maybe even more so. For example, a year ago at this time, I had written:

…the Hajj is an amazing and powerful symbol of equality and unity in a world distraught with frictions and factions. It is not just a symbol of ‘Muslim brotherhood’ but of human oneness. It is not simply a connection – in its rituals and its meanings – amongst the Abrahamic faiths; it is also a spiritually moving and visually powerful symbol of the unity of all humankind. There are those who wish to reduce the meaning of the message to merely one religion, or even one sect. I, at least, have always found it a more universal message and moved by the symbolism of unity and harmony of all.

On this day, even as one reads comments on blogs such as this, reads the newspaper, or simply tunes into television news, one finds conversations that highlight differences: between rich and poor, East and West, ‘gooras’ and ‘kaalas’, between shias and sunnis, between ethnicities, between sects, between races, between political parties, between ‘liberals’ and ‘mullahs’, between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

It seems that everywhere and always we are not just divided but we take pride in our divisions. Our language, our vocabulary, our thought processes are geared to highlight our differences with others. We take a perverse pride in these differences, whether we consider ourselves to be ’superior’ to others or we believe ourselves to be victims of differentiation.

Today, as I see pictures of Hajj I am moved – as I always am – by the sea of humanity and the oneness of that humanity… I pray that the message we take is one of humility; that the feeling we have are of universal humanity and fraternity, and the vows we make are of peace and goodwill for all and everywhere.

Earlier in October this year, on Eid day my passions were focused more on what was dividing us Pakistanis than on global humanity:

Eid is about community. And so is Pakistaniat.Com… The guiding spirit of community that had been behind this blog has not wavered. We have never wanted to make this a haven for like-minded robots who all think alike and say the same things. We have strong beliefs and so do you. We have wanted this to be a forum to share those beliefs, to discuss, to debate. But never to misbehave. Never to disrespect. Never to degrade. We do not want people to be disagreeable, but we never shy from disagreeing ourselves or letting others do that same.

Why am I saying all this today, in our Eid post? Because I believe that the spirit of Eid has much to teach us all about coexistence and respect for each other. This morning as I got up after Eid prayers and began embracing those around me, I realized that I disagreed (sometimes profoundly) with many of those who I was embracing on many issues, political, ideological, and others. I am sure that some of them disagreed with me on many issues even more than I disagreed with them. But that did not reduce the intensity or sincerity of the hug. Hopefully, that post-namaz embrace was not just a ritual for me or for them.

The galley milna at the end of the namaz, I realized, is not an indication of my total agreement with those I am hugging. It is an appreciation that at a higher level we are the same and we adhere to the same hopes, same aspirations, same principles. Even if you think it is just a ritual, it is a ritual of coming together, not of tearing apart!

Pakistaniat – both the term and the blog – is similar. It is a commonality of identity that does not demand common views and the same opinions, but merely the same aspirations for our nation. So, as I finished embracing those around me I thought about Eid, and I also thought about Pakistaniat. But, most of all, I thought about identity. Because that is central to both.

As we think about where we are today, this Eid, let us also thing about where we have been. More importantly, let us ponder also on where we wish to go. As we begin to do so, the message of humanity that Hajj brings us and the message of community that Eid is supposed to be about are good places to start.

These two messages are not contradictory. They should be reinforcing. There are those who seek their identity in how they are different from others – or, more importantly for them, how others are different! To think in these terms is to misunderstand and misinterpret the message of Hajj and of Eid . Let us resist the temptation to do so today. Let us, for a day, not merely enact the ritual of the embrace, but to think about the meaning behind it.

Let me end this post as I did my last Eid post:

So, let us embrace each other today – in Eid and in Pakistaniat. Tomorrow we will have plenty to crib about and disagree about again. Today, let us just embrace each other. Not because we are all the same, but despite our differences.

29 responses to “Eid and Hajj Greetings from ATP”

  1. MQ says:

    Zaairaan-i-Ka’ba say Iqbal yeh poochay koi
    kiya haram ka tohfa zamzam kay siva kuch bhi nahiN?

    Somebody, please, ask the pilgrims to Ka’ba
    Is there no other gift from Mecca than a can of zamzam?

  2. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @Saudi Govt. has the courage, means, and seriousness
    of tackling this huge unique gathering of about 3 millions
    at a time doing the same rituals, with the maximum respect
    of the said rituals, no one else can manage it. This ritual
    exist since Abraham, calling it or imagining it a ‘ jahiliya’
    is itself an ignorance & illitrate in arabic it can be also
    meaning not knowing the problem yet giving opinion !!

  3. RE says:

    Hajj brings in billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia. Hajj is what has given many concepts such as making places like Disneyland to bring people in with money.
    With many other benefits of Hajj one benefit can be used to help poor Muslim countries from Hajj profits. I think profit from Hajj belongs to all Muslims of world and better use would be to use for poor Muslims and for poor humans of all other religions as well. This is the best way to preach Islam to non Muslims by thinking of them at the time they need help.

  4. SH Kavi says:

    @legaleagle ,

    One can argue about how this huge crowd can be managed effectively. The Saudi government can and should do many things to enhance safety and comfort of pilgrims. However, the concept of Hajj was a brilliant idea even from non- religious point of view. This was an early form of process of

  5. RE says:

    I am so sorry to know that you belong to that town where this was done by extremist evils. I just want you to know I am here in California and do not know where that place is equally sadden by this and share the pain with you and all the people in your town who lost their loved ones.
    Insha Allah we will over come this and take our country back from these evils.
    Allah Bless Pakistan

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