Dhu'l-Qa'dah / Zil-Hijjah 1423 H
Volume 16-02 No : 194
Camps \ Workshops
Islamic festivals carry a distinguishing mark in that they are an exercise in sharing and sacrifice. Islam attempts at expanding the joy, happiness, excitement and festivity to all in the society. And this is nowhere more in evidence than in, and on the eve of Muslim/Islamic festivals. It is why both the major festivals in Islam - that is Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha prescribe certain rites that could only be interpreted as sacrifice or sharing. If Eid-ul-Fitr comes at the end of the month of fasting, an arduous physical exercise, its very essence lies in Fitrah or sharing of one’s riches in a minimal way. Similarly, Eid-ul-Azha, coinciding with the annual international assembly of Hajj in Makkah, prescribes sacrifice of animals in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness (and in his knowledge, actual sacrifice), to sacrifice his dearest son Ismail.
Most festivals among other nations or communities have their origin in either the birthday of the founder, or in the celebration of harvests or heralding various seasons. Christmas is thus birthday of Jesus Christ or Hazrath Isa , peace be upon him. Mahaveer Jayanthi or Buddha Poornima celebrate the birthdays of the holy figures associated with the respective faiths. Ramanavami and Krishna Ashtami coincide with the birthdays of Rama and Krishna, the most celebrated figures of Hindu mythology. Similarly, Navroze, Lori, Baisakhi, Ugadi, Onam, Basant Panchami, Pongal, either herald the beginning of spring, New Year or mark the end of monsoon or signify harvest season. Devoid of any religious significance, they continue to stay popular with or as a cultural legacy of the regional or national character of Muslims in societies where they live today as nationals or citizens. Thus, Navroze is still observed in Iran, Lori and Baisakhi are celebrated in Western Punjab which now forms part of Pakistan. Payasam is the favourite dish for Mappilla Muslims of Kerala on the day of Onam, kite flying is observed as a ritual as well as a pastime in Gujarat on Sankaranti day by all in that state.
But Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha remain unique by their significance. These dates bear no significance in the life of the holy Prophet (Pbuh) of Islam. Even the modern practice to celebrate Eid Meeladun Nabi on the Prophet’s birthday carries a sub-continental mark and has remained bereft of any religious legitimacy. Both events inculcate and celebrate the spirit of sharing and sacrifice. If Eid-ul-Fitr is culmination of Ramadan, and recommends distribution of Fitrah, Eid-ul-Azha prescribes sacrifice of animals and the sharing of its meat. The holy Prophet lays down clearly that nothing more than the act of sacrifice pleases Allah on the day of Eid-ul-Azha. While festivals and festivities are getting reduced to extravaganza, wasteful opulence and lavish spending, Islam teaches generosity and munificence and strictly prohibits wasteful pastimes. It is here that we need to perhaps have a re-look at our festivities. If Eid-ul-Azha does not engender in us a willingness to shed the best of our belongings for the sake of Allah and just gets reduced to the celebrations of the delights of the palate or a food fare, there should be enough cause for concern. Perhaps, a survey among the Muslim kids on the significance of Eid-ul-Azha will be quite revealing of the way the festival is observed in the community.
Even as we proceed to celebrate another Eid-ul-Azha, let us remind ourselves that Islam imparted a sense of sacrifice to its followers in order that they could rise above their self and part with their resources to share with others. Hunger used to be the dominant problem with the underdogs those days. Thus provision of basic needs of livelihood itself was a way to empower the have-nots. Today empowerment of the dispossessed has assumed a larger dimension. This must therefore impart a larger purpose to our charities. Even while fitrah, sadaqa and sacrifice will retain their ritual and symbolic form and content, the charity must now be used to fund higher education, research, establishing institutions of empowerment, media libraries, creation of employment opportunities et al. It is here that we perhaps need to rise above symbolism and correlate them to modern social and economic needs.
We have recently received the news of the close down of one of the pioneer monthly from Delhi.
It is not surprising to us and this has been the fate of the monthlies, fort -nightlies , weeklies and even dailies since independence. The community puts up a pretence that they have no share in the media and go on experimenting decade after decade, collecting huge funds to establish a powerful magazine and fail again and again. What we have to authentically look is what is missing?
Islamic Voice took its birth in a simple way in January 1987 to fill the gap in providing authentic views and status of Muslims in India and abroad and to present the message of Islam in the scientific context. Alhamdulillah, it completed its 16th year with the December, 2002 issue. The first issue of Islamic Voice was brought out with a loan of Rs 5000 and not from raising huge funds. Year after year, the humble 8 page Islamic Voice grew to the present four-colour tabloid. On November 12th 1990, the Islamic Voice office was gutted in a fire, yet the issue of the next month was not stopped. Till this day, not a single issue has been missed or combined by Allah’s grace. In all, the 191 issues were posted on or before the 6th of every month. We are operating from only a 300 square feet office with asbestos roof. Commitment and dedication to serve the community and in general, humanity is what drives us mad to work month after month seeking Allah’s pleasure.
Islamic Voice is falsely associated as the mouthpiece of Jamat- e- Islami Hind. Islamic Voice is an independent monthly free from any sect or jamaat. Islamic Voice is owned by its readers and well wishers, we at Islamic Voice are only the trustees managing and organising it. We are not backed by any group or organisation with external financial support. Islamic Voice is not a business or commercial establishment. The money that comes in goes all to printing, salaries, and promotion and for the complimentary copies to institutions and non-Muslims. No part of the money is diverted except for the cause of promoting the message of Allah.
Our support is our readers. What is missing is the ownership by the readers that “Islamic Voice is my monthly and I am responsible for its promotion”. Unless this sense of ownership and partnership is not taken up, days are not far that Islamic Voice will also meet the same fate as other community magazines. We have not asked for donations or funds in our 16 years, but now and then we have appealed to our readers for support. We have over the years taken out various schemes for the increase of the subscriptions, but were disappointed.
We invite our readers and well wishers to own this monthly and bring in a sense of belonging and partnership. A firm stand and a commitment on your part, that “no matter what, I shall enroll five subscribers to Islamic Voice within the 20th of February 2003”. This is possible and it is not a big deal. It will happen if every one stands to make a difference in the lives of five families.
What will make the future of Islamic Voice is your commitment and our commitment to go all out and make a difference in people’s lives. Let us not gossip by shedding crocodile tears, but in partnership let us serve the cause and be true to ourself. Allah helps those who help themselves.