Rabi Al-Awwal 27, 1431
“They said: “O Saleh! You are from among us, we expected a lot from you before this. Now you want us to desist from worship of those our fathers worshipped? Indeed we are in doubt about what you invite us to, we have an (obscure) suspicion”.”
Surah Hud (Surah 11), verse 62
I know of somebody who leads his ward group in university. He’s a cooperative, helpful guy who takes the inititative whenever required, basically a reliable leader overall. His group is, however, something else. Competitive, disagreeable, fussy… That’s what I got to know AFTER I decided to spend about 12 hours with them for a study session. Before that I thought they were an okay group, I mean everybody faces problems every once in a while; other than those, they looked like they survived well together.
So I join them and lo and behold! I’m shocked at the negativity I see, the taunts, the rigid rules, the ad hocness, the competitive ways. I later talk to this friend and ask him about the shocking contrast and I’m a bit amused by just how many stories he has to tell and just how much he’s suffering at the hands of a few!
Apparently the group members don’t trust him with anything when, in fact, he’s the one making calls, making arrangements, fixing schedules, accommodating his “friends”; he’s the one who has to give up his time in class to make “emergency” arrangements. There was a time when one of the members (admittedly, the centre of negativity in my opinion) actually said, “Oh, so YOU are going to take the decisions? Why? Why should you, of all the people? I think we should put in our votes about what we want to do, as a group!” Guess what, they actually did put in votes… and ever since they’ve been casting votes about almost every decision they have had to take… Some are downright petty! Now it’s not like all of them infuse their negativity, there are some in the group who actually manage to allow consensus to take place on a regular basis… and then, there are some who act as passive “enablers”.
It seems like they don’t want to take responsibility but they don’t want to trust their leader either, who, by the way, IS taking pains to keep the group intact (why? I don’t understand after all that drama). It’s highly likely that some egos are being brushed because some people out there DO have that kind of psyche of just talking negatively about issues, people, system, whatever. Is it me or is this group’s story similar to what Hazrat Saleh (raw) was facing, in terms, of the problem they had with having somebody from amongst them leading them?
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“But Ma did it like this!”
“I know, but the latest study says the results are better if kids are not given punishments…”
“Yeah, well, she applied that on us and we turned out fine!”
“Umm sorry to break this to you, but you have issues! Don’t you think you’d have turned out differently if you were given respect and time instead of the smacks? If you could, wouldn’t you trade for the embarrassment and humiliation you felt? Don’t you think you would have been less rebellious, so to say, if your views were listened to, at that time?”
“I can’t say, but I think Ma did a wonderful job and your “angel” of a Zoozoo is turning out rude so why don’t you do things the way your STUDY tells you to and I’ll stick to my ways, thank you.”
In our respect and love for our parents and their ways, we forget to question what’s right, what’s wrong, more often than not. We ponder sometimes and make silent resolves sometimes, but change the traditions slash ways slash culture slash norms? No sire! Thank you, but that’s too much work! If I were to relate that to my life, I’d pick how weddings are done in the Muslim world… or wait, should I say the sub-continent? Whatever. The thing is, SO much money is going into it. Not just the hosting parties’ money but a lot of the people attending it! New clothes to make/ buy, new shoes to buy, new bags, the presents to give. The hosting parties are, well, living with an open tap (a rather lame analogy) – all the money’s getting drained out on the venue, the set up, the foods to serve, the events to arrange, the greeting cards, the presents to give away, the clothes, the salon. Ugh! What for? Wouldn’t it be great if a small event just took place? Where only the close family members are invited to? Where the concerns of all the people not so concerned with the wedding are shoved away and just a minimal amount of money and time spent on an event that’s first of all, just another part of life and secondly, basically going to last for a few hours?
The media nonchalantly calls it the “big” day, the day when brides should go all out, get pampered and what not? Newsflash: It’s another day really. This post is losing its focus a bit, but the point really is, when something’s so deep set in our minds because that’s how we grew up, we actually forget to question its roots and its significance. When we DO realize that the roots (and the significance) are unsubstantiated, we say we’re powerless to change anything about it. I think it’s just a farce. We act weak because it helps things to continue smoothly. If we took the step, we’d be too bothered about the views of the not-so-concerned people, which is why we never TAKE the step in the first place!
Again, I find this very relatable to what Hazrat Saleh (raw) faced, when his people questioned his ways instead of their forefathers, when they subtly admitted to their weakness in going against the norms and traditions instead of taking the guidance they were receiving in (good) stride.