By Usama Bin Ansar
Eid has always been a social occasion. We go out, we meet people, our families visit each other, friends hang out – we enjoy being in the company of our friends and family. It is a festival. This Eid, although, just like this Ramadan, is nothing like that. The pain overshadows the joy this time around, the gloom cloaks the happiness.
Yesterday came the news of a plane crash in my home town of Karachi. It was the 83rd such incident in the country’s 70 years, a harrowing statistic in itself. Take into account the nuances and it becomes even more dreadful. The airplane crashed only a few hundred meters outside the airport in the middle of a dense settlement. I have lived in Canada for most of my life, but my formative years, years when my most identifiable qualities developed were spent in Karachi. I, thus, have a natural attachment to the city. Hearing news of the plane crash, in the streets I meandered through on countless occasions, where so many of my relatives live, was utterly devastating. For the first time, in addition to sorrow, I felt something else. I felt anger – at the urban planners who allowed dense settlements to develop around the airport, at the bureaucrats and politicians who hollowed out the technical capabilities of Pakistan’s national carrier, at the ground staff who allowed this particular airplane to fly and at the successive governments who have been complicit in shrouding the investigations into previous incidents. It was an overwhelmingly sad day.
All this might seem like a far away abstraction – for the global south faces widespread corruption, poverty and incompetence – but in fact it is quite possibly a close reality. Once we allow politics to be tainted with money and stop, as citizens, to actively resist our governments, once we stop being skeptical, once we start to tread down the path of blind loyalty to a brand, a band of people, a political party, we inevitably end up in a place where tragedies like this become an everyday occurrence. Isn’t Ford’s “consulting” of businesses about what regulations make it harder for them to function, quite clearly with the reckless goal of getting rid of consumer and/or labour protections, or Kenny’s call to “hire local” a step in that direction. What is there to celebrate this Eid?
A few days ago, on the 20th of May, when Muslims around the world were preparing for the 27th night of Ramadan, the Indian cabinet gave a retrospective nod to the Jammu and Kashmir second order which would allow non-kashmiris, in defiance of both the relevant UNSC resolutions and the 4th geneva conventions stipulations on disputed territories, to buy property in the territory – a move clearly intended to change the demographics of the territory. A few days before that a former general and a longtime prime minister of the middle east’s “only democracy” formed, what was widely hailed as, a “unity” government. United in what? One must ask. Turns out, they are united in officially annexing the west bank. Really, what is there to be happy about this Eid?
This Eid, I am feeling anxious, nervous, downcast, sad, distressed, heartbroken, mournful – everything, but happy. The events going on around the world, the distress of Canada’s poverty stricken communities during the pandemic, the blatant disregard for facts shown by the goon acting as the supposed leader of the free world regarding the reopening of businesses, the insistence, by the ECB and the IMF, on austerity in return for loans to support economically weak and pandemic stricken countries like Italy, all coupled with the continued oppression of our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, Palestine, Myanmar, and China gives me very few reasons to actually celebrate. Joy, what joy? Contentment, what contentment? Solace, what solace? The state of the world is appalling, and that is precisely what I am feeling on Eid this year. Appalled.
Yes, we should never give up hope for Allah’s mercy is infinite and his dominion limitless. I am not hopeless but my prayers, my invocations this Eid are different. I find myself asking Allah to help us defeat not only this pandemic but also the other, more subtle pandemics which mar our world; inequality, poverty and oppression. I do not see a way to get there, but I am sure Allah will help us get there, for it is He SWT who has, as the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous would say, “condemned us to hope.”
The image is sourced from here