Disclaimer: All events narrated are real, and based on my interactions with people not known to me, with the exception of the first narrated encounter. Any resemblance with your character is purely your own guilty conscience.
Far as I remember, the first time anyone sent a fatwa my way was when I was in grade one. Music class was in progress, and I was completely indulged in singing a very pointless rhyme about a banana tree along with everyone else. A girl sitting in front suddenly turns around and says:
“Aren’t you the one who is memorizing the Quran?”
Me: *breaking off midway* “Er- yeah.”
Her: *in a condescending tone* “Then why are you singing? You shouldn’t! It’s so wrong!”
Me: *speechless and thinking- since mom hasn’t told me about this, it’s probably not true*
I continued to sing, louder than ever, also made a point to not like her for telling me off. She was one of those girls who are always prim and proper with airs and graces and a lot of giggly friends. I on the other hand, was rough on the edges so disliked her on principle. #childrenpolitics But later on in the same year, we had become very close friends, and this is probably the best part about being a kid: nothing really seems to matter.
* * *
But this was ages ago. Last night, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across this post by a certain-important-somebody who had written a few words of praises about a Twilight soundtrack, played it on a piano and advised piano-enthusiasts to do the same because it is soul-soothing. I half moved on to the next update when a comment caught my attention. Apparently, there was a VERY heated, explosive debate going on- the usual showdown between “Fatwa Police” and the rest of the world. We had the preachers expressing their resentment against the post-maker to not encourage fans on “Haraam stuff”, and we had passionately pissed music supporters saying:“Qabeel ne Habeel ko music sun ker maara tha kya?!!!” To which the preachers retorted: “Phir janazey ke saath gaana kyun nahi chalaate? #SoulSoothing”
I allowed myself an inward snort of laughter and loaded the comment thread. Needless to mention, it was a very eh- “enlightening” discussion. Learnt loads about all sorts of preachers, most of whom are successfully driving everyone away from religion while they’re at it. The post is based on general observation but that comment thread in particular inspired the piece.
1- Mufti Wayne (read Vain)
This guy preaches through music and singing. Though there is nothing wrong with singing in itself (as long as it is only vocals with good lyrics and no instruments), this guy’s compositions are backed up by drums, piano, violin… the usual pop rock. Tell me again- why should I ever listen to you? Archuleta makes better music. And even Rebecca Black’s “Friday” track would do, if I give it Islamic connotations. One can argue Friday is a celebratory day for Muslims so we can/should/must party within limits. * License to Oh-so-halaal entertainment.* And considering the ridiculous comebacks music fans come up with, I won’t be surprised if a lady gets up and says Bieber sounds like a girl so there’s no “fitnah” if I listen to him. So no audience for Mufti Wayne. He has only given people another good reason to go back to their celebs, cause his music is no different (or probably just sucks. Who preaches pop-style anyway?).
PS: Some Islamic musician (if there’s ever such a legit term) has even sung a “Islamic” version of Rebecca’s Black’s “Friday”, with the instruments of course. Goes something like “It’s Jumuah Jumuah…” Guy needs help.
2- Sheikh Hudood bin Niqaab
This is the one we all fear. This guy has taken it upon himself to
tell, no hound all women to cover up. He is the one with fake IDs and inboxes people on social networks to cover up or remove their profile pictures, or he suddenly stops by you and goes on a niqaab spree. Creepy on so many levels.
Also, while giving dawah, this person focuses more on punishments and Hudood than on glad-tidings and incentives.
#DawahFailed Niqaab is a concept, not just an act. There are so many variables involved.
3- The Fatwa Police
These guys are everywhere. Even if they aren’t, their ghost lingers. In fact, it’s usually just people’s paranoia that makes them assume the worst. You see this person or a group of people in university with properly kept beards and trousers hitched up to the ankles and they’re secretly labelled “Al-Tableeghi”, or women clad in all black- “Al-Extreemiee”. Most of the time, your fears really get confirmed. These people go blaring “Haraam” or are found giving unsolicited advice to almost anyone who breathes. The only thing wrong here is that they lack the tact to do so. The subtlety that dawah requires is just not there.
PS: A couple of months back, someone confessed that they thought I was an extremist before they had a chance to interact with me.
4- Facebook Molvi
If he is the overbearing sort, this guy can be a real troll. This kind dominated the comment thread I mentioned earlier. When these guys talk, a clash of inflated egos ensues. Sorta great therapy for all parties to take out their frustration. The “Deviant Awaam” checks out FB Molvi’s profile and sues him for liking “Haraam music pages” himself. A wry twist in the tale, tables are turned and molvies get shoo-ed away. It’s chaotic. In every sense of the word.
* * *
There are many instances and examples that I’d like to point out, but that would be exhausting. Personally, I think the best form of dawah is through your actions. Behave well publicly, and you won’t need to talk about it much. Some sane people in the Muslim Community should come up with Dawah101 for damage control. Really. It is the need of the hour. And I had a list prepared on the categories of audiences as well, and the way they respond to the call. But I will spare them the drawl. These unfortunate souls already have their ego tried and tested, and butchered all in a single comment. But let us just come to an agreement here- Enjoining good and forbidding evil is incumbent upon every Muslim (no endorsements required). And is effective only when done appropriately (this part needs serious polishing). There’s no “It is none of your business- keep away” in the equation. Read Surah Al-Asr and you will know. It is an extract of a Muslim’s life summarized so beautifully. What we all need is wisdom and rationale. One of the main reasons why people run away from anyone who “looks” Islamic is because they tend to get overbearing. And one of the lamest things that people come up with is to list down all the faults in the “preacher” and throw them in his face. Angels don’t walk this earth, folks. We are all found wanting. If you ever find yourself in a position of being corrected, accept it. Gracefully. Or look into it or whatever. Arrogance is just another form of vanity.
Last word- pray that you get endowed with wisdom and the strength to do dawah effectively. If you find yourself unable to right a wrong, then make dua for that person. It is difficult yes, to not snicker at the inappropriate things that people do. Passing by and smirking at a particular-someone is nothing but a reflection of your own self-righteousness. The least you can do is to make a silent prayer for that person. So what if he has a hundred noticeable faults, you probably got a million inside.