By Kasim Osmani
Every year the month of Rabiyul Awal comes with streets of my town glittering with iridescent flashing lights hanging down from top of every house like a necklace, while in a few streets, the enthusiasts fix rows of tiny electric bulbs on either sides of the street that looks as if you stand beneath a ceiling decorated with multicolored stars in the night.
All these arrangements are made by local Milaad committees comprising volunteers of the area. These festivities, though visibly extravagant, symbolize the inherited and traditionalized ways to express joy and celebrate the commemoration of the birth of the holy Prophet [S.A.W].
These local committees volunteer financial needs for the launch of annual events, commonly known as Milad-e-Mustufa. Some would knock you door to ask for alms, while others go as far as standing on a road, holding poles of a banner from either sides that urges passer-bys and drivers to give alms for staging Milad-e-Mustufa. Moreover, there has been marked increase in our society celebrative urge with regard to electric based decoration from pillar to the post.
Not that I am kind of staunch critic or strongly oppose these modes of expressions, as I do believe in freedom of expression for that matter, it often gets on your nerves seeing youngsters urging general public for alms to ‘celebrate’ birth of the holy Prophet [S.A.W], or, you come out of home in the morning and see full size banner pasted on exterior wall of your house advertising the milad event to be held soon.
These advertising posters stick to the wall more like a misfit ceramic tile — something you cannot uproot without breaking it, or, by the least mutilating your wall. Let me put it loud and clear it’s not the milad advertisement that bugs me, but the poster that has been ‘permanently’ pasted on my house wall, without my permission. Same goes with all exterior walls of the houses in my area.
My point is why didn’t they take a moment to knock the door and seek permission for it? Once they have done it, will the committee volunteers take some time to remove it from each house? I’m sure they will not. Does not it breach social ethics or neighborhood rights that Islam teaches us? Do they take permission from local administration for staging events or advertising them using public property? In pursuit of these celebrations they do all the ‘righteous’ things, though using wrong methods. I believe it does not take much time to advertise such an event door to door, or, periodically announce it via loudspeakers of mosques, or, display banners that can later be easily removed.
I fear making ‘blasphemous’ attempt to take out a bucket full of water and linen so to remove the poster even after the milad event is over. I know I’ll have to answer a few piercing questions and comments:
Aren’t you Muslim?
Don’t you have respect you are tearing Prophet’s name like that, God forbid?
Or, comments such as:
For sure a Wahabi (in a taunting tone)!
Attempts to answer apparently simple questions would surely spark debate that is not going to be promising for my survival in society. No matter what, in the end of such conversation, I’ll be the odd man out facing mob justice!
Once the milad events are over, these advertising posters will be outdated, but will remain there as long as some heavy rainfall slips them down to drains — that will not come under blasphemy. Or, some day, I might find myself eating pakoras in one of such paper-bag!