To Share or not to Share: a writer’s dilemma

social media sharing platforms

The logic is that the more you publicise something, the greater the chance it’ll reach more people. And the more people it reaches, the greater the chance of it benefiting a larger audience.

But that’s how it looks on the surface.

There’s a deeper reality which we cannot see. An underbelly that we do not understand. An unseen world that we have no access to – yet that’s the realm in which the real impact occurs. Continue reading

Input overload: how do you cope?

We see it all around us: news, alerts, information. It hits us from every angle: getting to us through print, digital, and audio means. It’s not enough that we face general streams of content flooding our senses. We’ve personalised it, too. We receive customised feeds and notifications on our computers (when we’re working), and phones (which are always with us…always on). Continue reading

Chill

At this time of year, we take out our heaters, blankets, thermals. We prepare ourselves for months of cold, wet and difficult conditions.

But while we do this, and while we may suffer from the cold, we must remember that there are many out there who suffer a lot worse than we do in these cold days and nights. There are those who live in run down homes, shacks and informal dwellings. Worse still, some are homeless. Continue reading

The great Eid debate

Eid is coming...

Eid is coming…

Picture courtesy of Saaleha

The days of Hajj are almost upon us, and since the moon wasn’t sighted in South Africa this past Saturday, it means that Dhul Hijjah officially started here on Monday. This contrasts with Makkah, where the month started a day earlier – on Sunday.

Every other month of the year, this difference isn’t much of a big deal (although for some, it matters in Ramadaan). However, for this time of year, it means that the South African Eid-ul-Adha will not be synced with Makkah’s Eid-ul-Adha.

Growing up in Durban, I don’t really remember there being much fuss over this. But here in Cape Town, it’s been a contentious issue for quite a while, apparently. When the local date doesn’t match Makkah’s date, we have some Muslims who celebrate with Makkah, while others celebrate a day later.

There seem to be sound arguments for both opinions, yet the tragedy in all of this is that it still divides the community. In what should be a time of unity and great blessings – given the significance of the Hajj underway in these days – there’s argument and division over which opinion is right.

For all the years I’ve lived in Cape Town, none of this really affected me. I just put it down to difference of opinion, and carried on – celebrating Eid on whatever day it was officially announced by the local authority (MJC).

Confusion

However, this time around, it’s a little more concerning. The day of wuqoof – when the hujjaaj stand on Arafah – is one of the greatest days of the year (if not the greatest). And for those not on Hajj, it’s a highly recommended sunnah to fast that day (with the reward being the fast wiping out the sins of the previous year and the year to come).

This year, wuqoof is on Monday 14th October, insha-Allah. Thus, if you want to fast on the day of wuqoof, Monday is the day. Yet the announcement from the MJC is “Those wishing to fast on the day of Arafat, fasting takes place on the 9th of Thil Hijja, according to our local calendar, coinciding with the 15th of October.”

Following that logic, those wanting to fast on the day of Arafah will actually not be fasting on the day of Arafah! (Since the 15th of October is already Eid in Makkah.)

But as I see it, those who want to fast on the actual day of Arafah should do it when the hujjaaj are actually on Arafah – i.e. Monday 14th October.

What then, of the day of Eid?

If you fast on Monday, then Eid should be the next day – Tuesday.

So you’d be in that group which takes Eid with Makkah.

But I’ve also heard very sound advice that in cases of such disputes, the correct thing to do is to follow the consensus of the ulama / authorities of your country – i.e. take your Eid with the majority – the of the community.

And that makes sense not only on a societal level, but also lower down, on a family level. You can’t really choose to have Eid on your own – the day before – while your family is taking it with the community the next day. So, even if you disagree, for the purposes of social harmony, it’s better to stick with the majority.

Thus we have a situation of fasting on the day of Arafah, having a ‘normal’ day after that, and then having Eid the next day.

Some may call that inconsistent – saying that you either go with Makkah completely or go with your local ulama completely.

But really, when you face a situation like this, there’s no way to reconcile the 2 positions. It’s a compromise that has to be made in order to preserve both personal belief and social harmony.

Or do you see things differently? What’s your view on the 2 Eids issue? Does it happen in your community, and if so, how do you handle the issue of fasting the day of Arafah when your local calendar doesn’t match Makkah?


Update from 2018:

After the issue arose again in 2018, several ulama from various quarters have clarified the matter. Below, find the text from Zaytuna Institute’s Imam Zaid Shakir:

“Contrary to popular belief, there in no legal connection between the standing at Arafat and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha was legislated, along with Eid al-Fitr, during the second year after the Hijra. On the other hand, Hajj was legislated the ninth year after the Hijra. This means that for seven years Eid al-Adha was performed while there was no Hajj, hence, no standing at Arafat! The standing at Arafat cannot therefore be the legal cause for the timing of Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Adha is the tenth of Dhu’l Hijjah, based on however the date is reckoned and there is no obligation for Muslims to follow the Saudi government on the questionable timing governing the beginning of Dhu’l Hijjah and hence the Day of Arafat. If one were to be extremely dogmatic in “following the Hajjis” there would be no Eid al-Adha because the Hajjis do not celebrate Eid.

Whenever you may choose to celebrate your Eid may it be a blessed affair.”

In our case this year (2018), Wuqoof on Arafah occurred on Monday in Makkah, however, following local moon sighting, our local 9th of Dhul Hijjah fell on Tuesday. So we connected with those on Arafah on the Monday, but still fasted on the Tuesday.

Makkah’s Eid was on the Tuesday, while ours was on the Wednesday.

In any case, the bottom line in all of this is to be respectful of others’ views – regardless of which opinion you follow. Hajj demonstrated the incredible unity of so diverse and widespread an ummah. It’s completely against the spirit of such unity to be disrespectful to others who follow different views.

So, take what you think is right – but don’t look down on, or criticise, those who see it differently.

A question for you, the reader

Here’s a quick question for all that read this blog: do you participate in online discussions? I’m not talking about specialised forums, but general portals – like news sites that allow you to comment on stories (for example, South Africa’s News24).

And if so, what’s your experience been like – particularly when you comment on sensitive or controversial topics?

Do you think there’s benefit in contributing to such discussions? Or, more often than not, does it just turn into one big shout-fest, where people try to argue that they’re right and others are wrong?

Post your answers in the comments, please.

Indulgence impulse

The following is a true story:

I pigged out last night – and I’m ashamed. After supper, I had a piece of Cadbury Fudge chocolate. The taste wasn’t what I was craving, so I had a marshmallow. That should have been enough – but it wasn’t.

The baby was being put to sleep, and there was still time before Esha.

A whisper came to my mind: ‘You hardly ever get time to just relax and read your book. Why don’t you do that now, and have a nice chocolate with it?’

I gave in.

I had a TV Bar while reading my book.

But still, the taste was not what I was looking for. Something was not being satisfied.

Another whisper: ‘Have something  else, and maybe you’ll get what you’re after.’

Then my wife came downstairs, and had her own TV Bar.

Another impulse came – telling me maybe her chocolate was what I was craving.

I tried to take some – but she didn’t let me have it. (She’s territorial about her chocolate – as am I.)

We talked a bit, and then she pulled out a lamington from her handbag (which doesn’t happen often). Our old neighbour had given it to her earlier that day.

Not wanting it to go to waste (or, really, not wanting her to have all of it) – I had some.

And I don’t think it satisfied me either.

Now, at that point, I’d eaten so much crap that I couldn’t possibly have more.

So then I went to the masjid for Esha, and there was a janazah. One thought that ran through my mind was:

“One day / night, that’s going to be me in that coffin. My soul will be leaving this world. And on the final Day, I’ll have to explain myself. As trivial as this indulgence seemed – how will I explain it? How can I justify having 4 different sweets in one night?”

The answer is simple: greed. I have an impulse to indulge – particularly in junk food.

Combine that with the whispers which come from those unseen (you know, the folks that have recently been released from their month-long incarceration) – and you have a solid trap to catch me.

So I resolved to be better the next day, insha-Allah.

I know not to give in to these desires. Actually, the desire for the taste – the craving – isn’t even strong at this point. (It gets stronger the further away I get from Ramadan). Yet I give in and indulge – out of habit.

And so, when I came home that night – right when I walked in – I again wanted something. My first instinct was to give in – until I remembered my intention to restrain myself.

The struggle has resumed. And I’m starting off from a point of weakness.

I really need to break this indulgence impulse. Perhaps I should brush my teeth right after supper?

Any other ideas?

Cup of disappointment

It was supposed to be spectacular. A football feast that drew the best in the world. One month of awesome talent on display – and all on the African continent, despite the reservations of many; and the phantom terrorist threats that others so boldly claimed.

I speak, of course, of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is being held here in South Africa.

The tournament has, thus far, been professional and well-organised. Aside from wage disputes with stadium security, the tournament has been relatively trouble-free.

We have our shiny new stadiums; sophisticated transport systems; and upgraded roads and airports – all of which cost the country (and its taxpayers many millions). And all in all, things seem to be looking up in terms of promoting future tourism to South Africa.

But, for me, the big irony in all of this glitz and glamour is the basic premise on which the tournament is being held: the game of football.

I haven’t analysed the statistics – but so far, it seems to me that this has been a most boring tournament in terms of actual football. I think the majority of the games have ended up as draws – and low-scoring draws at that.

I haven’t watched all of the games – actually only a few, and bits and pieces here and there – but the results so far tell me that this isn’t the mega-tournament it was billed to be.

Aside from Uruguay embarrassing the hosts 3-0, and Germany’s 4-0 opening win, I haven’t been impressed with the results or the play so far.

France are a huge disappointment, and England are not far behind (although, if Rooney can hit form, that can very easily change). Many of the big teams are stuttering while less-famous countries, like Mexico and Uruguay, are thriving.

In fact, it seems the biggest star of the tournament has been the “Vuvuzela” (the horns you hear at every game) – which, in my opinion, is a cultural thing that Europeans and others just need to get used to – rather than complaining about it. After all, just because singing  – and not trumpets – are the norm in England and Europe, it doesn’t mean that everything else is some twisted perversion of how a crowd ‘should’ behave at a soccer game. (See Azra’s views on it here).

We’re only just over a week into the tournament, so there’s plenty of time for things to turn around on the football fields. But, so far, it’s just been a very average tournament – which is sad for South Africa; because we don’t want to be branded as the country that hosted the most boring World Cup ever.

What are your thoughts on the tournament so far?