26 June 2008

The age of Ignorance

Why are the hearts of these daughters of ours filled with such overflowing love? Obedient to such a degree that on seeing the sharp knife in their father's hand, they quietly lie down and close their eyes? The knife cuts through their throats yet not a cry comes from their lips… yet if they have the power of speech left, if not, then silently they ask their fathers, 'Abbu Jan, you didn't hurt yourself did you? Did I ever disobey you or cause you any trouble?' Such things used to happen in the Age of Ignorance but the strange thing is, that tales like these can be heard in these days too.

Remember 1400 years ago when a daughter was born to a man? As he had been on a long journey he didn't know whether it was boy or a girl he had been blessed with. However, before embarking on the journey he had ordered his wife that if a daughter was to be born she must take away her life with her own hands. But a mother's love on the one hand and an innocent, angelic face on the other had won. The hands raised to squeeze the tiny throat fell to their sides. Then suddenly she bent down and swooped the child into her arms, raining kisses upon her face. She decided there and then that come what may, she would not obey her husband's order.

When the father returned home, the baby girl had just learnt to walk. He stood transfixed in the doorway watching in astonishment the bright sunbeam that had wandered into his home. She seemed to enjoy calling him 'Abbu,' 'Abbu,' all the time. In her husband's absence the mother had written the word 'Abbu' so many times on her heart that there was no place left for any other word. The newcomer had no toys, no gifts in his hands. But the daughter hadn't asked for anything. All she had wanted was the shade of security that is called 'father'. And she had found it now. She could have sacrificed all her happiness on this shade, on this security that had become hers now but little did the innocent one know that death stood there.

Her pretty face and lisping tongue held her father's brutality in check for a few days but in the end his evil nature won. He had told his daughter the night before that he would take her to meet some relatives the next day. She had been so happy that she had dreamt about the visit the whole night long. As her mother bathed and dressed her in the morning, her eyes streamed with tears. The young one was puzzled for it wasn't an occasion to cry was it? She was going to meet her maternal uncles after all. And she wasn't going all alone; her father whom she trusted implicitly was taking her with him. He will hold my tiny finger in his hands, pick up in loving arms when I get tired, she happily told herself.

But the mother who knew her husband's nature, was well aware that the visit was not going to end in a meeting but in a parting forever. It was not a journey of love but of satisfying false honour, she knew. The helpless mother took a last look at her daughter, clutched her to her breast one last time and handed her over to her father. Her eyes sought his in a mute appeal, to spare a small, light life but there was an implacable look there. She had already known his answer but she was a mother after all. It may be a tiny chick or a baby sparrow their mothers' love is just the same. They want nothing in this world except to see their young ones live long. With blurred eyes she turned back and going to her dark bedroom, fell sobbing broken-heartedly on the bed. The father and daughter set off on the journey.

Leaving the houses far behind, in a desolate spot, the father made his daughter sit under the shade of a tree. Taking up the shovel he had brought with him, he started digging. It was hard work for the ground was stony and he was soon dripping with sweat, but he did not stop. The child was puzzled and worried too. She wasn't worried that she was going to die, the thought hadn't even entered her mind, what troubled her was the sight of her father struggling so hard in the scorching heat.

Knowing not what else to do she got up and going to him wiped his forehead with her small scarf. When the hole was as long and deep as was needed, two strong hands picked her up and laid her down in it. Then quickly he shoveled the mud over her. For a long time muffled cries of "Abbu", "Abbu" could be heard from the grave and then there was complete silence.

Heavens saw such scenes so many times in the Age of Ignorance that it could bear to see no more. Hazrat Qais Bin 'Asim, after embracing Islam, admitted to burying twelve of his daughters alive. Rasool ullah sallallahu `alaihe wasallam ordered him to set twelve slaves free one for each daughter he had thus cruelly killed. Whenever a newly-converted Muslim admitted such a heartless crime, Rasool ullah (allallahu `alaihi wasallam's) eyes used to fill with tears and waves of pain ran across his face. In the history books of Seerah where there are tales of those who killed their daughters, also mentioned are those who saved their lives.

It has been quoted in Tabrani that Rasool ullah (sallallahu `alaihi wasallam) had a Sahabi whose name was Hazrat Sa'sa bin Najiyah radhiallahu `anhu. The Sahabi was the grand father of the famous poet and taba'yi, Farzda. Hazrat Sa'sa, one day, told Rasool ullah sallallahu `alaihi wasallam that in the Age of Ignorance he had saved the lives of 360 baby girls. "The Mushrikeen had wanted to bury them alive but for each child I gave them two milch she-camels and a male camel and had their lives spared," he said. "Huzoor please tell me would this act of mine be of any use to me?" he asked. "Isn't it enough of a reward that Allah Ta`ala has blessed you with the gift of Emaan?" Rasool ullah sallallahu `alaihi wasallam answered. "You saved the girls from being buried alive; Allah Ta`ala saved you from becoming the fuel of Jahannum."

The fathers of the girls Hazrat Sa'sa had saved had been Mushriks and idol-worshippers, but to day the father we see with dagger in hand is not a Mushrik but a Muslim! He has drunk the leftover water of some 'malang baba' following which he has had a dream in which he has been told to sacrifice his daughter so that his problems would come to an end; so that the black magic can become ineffective. His daughter loved him so much that she couldn't bear to be parted from him even for a minute. His wife, angry at the crazy things her husband did had left and gone to her parents' house.

She had tried to take her six-year-old daughter with her but she had refused, insisting she wanted to stay with her father. She slept with her arms around his neck at night. The peace she knew with him, she knew she couldn't find anywhere else. The cruel father cold-bloodedly cut her throat at dawn when she was still lying asleep. Having committed the savage act, he offered Fajr salat next to her dead body.

The thing that worries most is that now a days we read about such incidents in the newspapers daily, without fail. A heartless husband has killed his wife; an inhuman father butchered his daughter. all for the sake of exorcising evil spirits or black magic which are preventing him from living a prosperous, happy life. Who are these 'malang babas', these stomach-worshipping 'aamils' who show the path of murder to those who come to their 'astanaas', who have made the ignorant ones believe in superstitions? Suspense-creating newspapers are usually full of the advertisements of such 'aamils'. The walls of the city have become black with their posters. Devoid of the fear of Allah Ta`ala these dealers-in-death don't even hesitate in making claims that they possess divine powers. powers that belong to Allah Ta`ala only.

According to them "Sang-dil mehboob ko qadmon mein la daalna" (making the hard-hearted beloved fall madly in love); "Bay-aulaad joroun ko sahib-i-aulad bana dayna" (to enable childless couples to conceive); "Man-pasand gharanoun mein rishtay kara dayna" (to get desired spouses for sons and daughters) is as easy as ABC for them. You can take any problem to them in-family fighting, mental tensions, financial problems, joblessness, loss in business, inability to get daughters married or long-drawn illness, they have only one answer to all these problems: "Someone has practiced 'black magic' or 'white magic on you'.

Someone has cast a spell, put a hex on you." Those who seek out such people and go to them, destroy their lives in this world and their lives in the Hereafter too. These 'malangs', these people who claim supernatural powers turn their devotees into mistrusting maniacs. They look at every one with suspicion thinking that it must be him who is responsible for all their misfortunes. As the enemy has been pointed out in very, obscure, vague terms the victim suspects his relatives first of all. Some of these so-called 'aamils', in order to break the spell of black magic, sometimes ask the victim to bring extraordinary things the fat of a lion, musk acquired from a rare deer, blood of a white rooster, meat of a black goat etc.

Some even go as far as to advise the childless couple to recite some nonsense on the bones of a dead child. And then children are kidnapped and their dead, mutilated bodies found in graveyards. Some savage people kill their own children sometimes too. What else can all this be called but "ignorance"? That which the worshippers of Lat and Habal used to commit at the foot of the mountains of Makkah was ignorance too, and the barbarity being committed by the so-called devotees of Islam today is nothing but sheer ignorance also.

By Maulana Muhammad Aslam Shaikhupuri Sahib