Wednesday 8 February 2006

The people are high on opium - III

My uncle is another example
I explore further my Muslim heritage. As you will recall, I paid tribute to the religious pragmatism and tolerance of my paternal grandfather. My uncle, who is my father’s kid brother, also took up Islam.
My memories of him are quite fond, I even remember when he celebrated his 22nd birthday asking if he would wait for me to catch up; I was just coming to 8 then.
I have not in anyway matched the fondness, love and dedication between siblings that my father has with my uncle, they may not worship each other but they are certainly close and do really look out for each other.
My uncle also took after his father in marrying a very beautiful lady with a strong Christian background. In their case, the children both had Muslim and Christian names, however, only the first son; now of blessed memory took up Islam.
Exceedingly worthy of emulation
My uncle in his demeanour is probably the friendliest, approachable and considerate Muslim gentleman I have ever met. He defers, respects, acquiesces and concurs with disarming humility that conveys strength where nominally one would expect weakness.
Selflessness in consideration for others dictates how he sues for conciliation and peace in soft-spoken tones that appeal to reason and common-sense. It makes him an unwilling mentor and more so, a person exceedingly worthy of emulation.
This man lives out the qualities and essence of being a Muslim; in whom one would find no bitterness or rancour; a person who exercises self-control and comportment in all circumstances.
The sacrifice – faith and belief - personified
On the maternal line, I also had cousins who with a strong Muslim heritage through their paternal grandparents. In that setting, I participated more in the Muslim festivals which during my secondary school days fell during term time.
The main festival involved the slaughter and preparation of the sacrificial ram which re-enacts the sacrifice that Abrahamic sacrifice of his son, Isaac; at least the context is that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in the service of God.
God’s acknowledged that selflessness by providing a ram to replace Isaac on the sacrificial altar. The same selflessness in service to God is required of followers of Mohammed’s doctrine.
However, that should also be viewed in the light of Abraham’s complete personality and conduct which allowed him to belief first and then exercise faith in God being able to revive back his son; if the sacrifice did take place.
Blades for rough hairs
All of us got involved the preparations; after the Imam from the mosque cut the throat of the ram, we had to shave the ram before the butchering of the flesh.
This involved making a tourniquet round the neck and then from a slit in the back legs, after clearing pathways with a stick, the carcase was filled and bloated with air like a balloon.
This made the skin taunt allowing for soap to be applied for shaving the rough hairs, by holding the blades with fingers as the shaving stick.
I think, I was quite a dap hand at the job; it was an activity I relished.
The silent majority of reason
The Muslims I knew then, at home and at school, would hardly have been part of the fracas that occupies our streets around the globe.
It is however, unfortunate that they constitute the silent majority of reasonable and likeable Muslims. Their religious diet definitely does not consist of opium.

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