Sunday, September 4, 2011


(It is half time and SENIOR is getting really annoyed with the JUNIOR as no goals have been scored !! At the dug out at half time, the SENIOR gave his piece of mind, which finally resulted in a pass that lead to a goal !! )

BY : Shabbir Lokhandwala who flew in from Pune to watch the Messi Magic

Mesmerizing No. Madness Yes!

“You pay 5 pounds to stand on a lump of concrete
You can’t see anything and it isn’t even safe
And you can’t complain because that would mean you are letting the lads down,
That you didn’t care enough”

That’s what Ruth Gemmel’s character says to Colin Firth’s character in the movie ‘Fever Pitch’ after she watches a football game along with him. She is very upset by the experience and of images of the Hillsbrouh tragedy being played out on the TV, where 96 football fans were crushed to death. The movie scene represented 1989. That was 22 years ago.

22 years later I stood on a lump of concrete, paid around 26 pounds for match tickets and even more for travelling 2020 km from Pune to Kolkatta to witness the first Argentinean friendly match in this country and to watch arguably the best player of our times in flesh and blood. And the experience was physically and mentally tiring. All major sport events in India are.

We stood in line at 5 pm to enter gate 3 of the Yuva Bharati Krirangan or Salt lake stadium as is commonly known. The queue was approximately half a kilometer long and the reason was that all the stands situated along each side line had one entry gate. There are only 5 gates to enter the stadium premises.

A very big anomaly given it is the biggest stadium capacity wise in the country and the second biggest football stadium in the whole world. (Yeah, wiki it, if you don’t believe me)The darn queue didn’t move for nearly an hour. At 6 pm the queue started moving briskly and then the most bizarre thing happens. Everybody just starts running. No queue, it’s a mad rush to get close to the entry gate, with impromptu lines being made now and then to restore some sanity. It was like an intense warm up exercise. Sprint for 100 meters then stop. Form a line and sprint again. The cops were busier manning the stationary traffic bought to a halt by the collective running of football fans. For a moment I was worried of getting crushed if a stampede did occur.

For a moment I was worried of getting crushed if a stampede did occur. I was worrying more about Huzaifa, my 13 year old cousin brother, who was experiencing this madness for the first time.

We finally did make it inside the stadium at 7pm just before the kick off, drenched in sweat and standing on concrete steps. We saw the first half from the lower tier, the second from the upper tier, after illegally jumping through a gap in the fence.

My other grouse was with the spectators. Indian football fans, cricket fans and hockey fans come to watch a player and not the game. They don’t even bother about teams. In cricket Sachin gets the loudest cheers, followed by batsmen after they hit boundaries. Hardly anybody cheers the bowlers in the middle of a good spell. Out here, it was Messi all the way. True his playing in the match built up euphoria and excitement and got people in the stadium. True, I wouldn’t travel all the way to Kolkata, had Messi not being playing. But what happened to appreciating the game. About Mexican waves and a carnival like atmosphere in the stadium. About singing chants and football anthems. About cheering and feeling that we did make a difference to the team’s performance. About being the 12thman. The crowd only cheered when Messi touched the ball, made his weaving runs, won free kicks and took corners. The rest of times, they were silent. We thought about starting a Mexican wave, but the idea got lost somewhere between finding water and Pepsi in the stadium. The problem with Indian stadiums is that by the time you enter them, you are so tired, that there is hardly any cheer left in you. I was told that the Bengali fans are very knowledgeable about football. I don’t think so. The gentleman sitting next to me couldn’t tell the difference between Mascherano and Zabaleta.

But the football fan in me forgave these misgivings and loved the experience. If you can watch a football match of world class quality in this country from the stands, if you can watch Lionel Messi making his trademark weaving runs and strike a shot through the feet of defenders, if free kicks from 30 yards hit the side net and collectively and reflexively make you stand and sit down making a sigh, if you witness some good counter attacking moves and the Argentineans tracking back to defend, if you get marveled by the little deft touches that enable modern football teams to create space where there was none, if you experience butterflies in your stomach when an improbable pass leads to an even more improbable right footed volley towards the top left corner of the goal, only to hit the post and lament on what could have been. If you can watch two Latin American countries play with the world’s best player in one of the teams in a stadium bigger than Camp Nou, then I think it’s really worth it.

It might take another 22 years for us to have great world class stadiums, with enough gates, electronic turnstiles and parking spaces, with proper seats, proper cafeterias, squeaky clean toilets, good public announcement systems, clearer electronic screens, visible clocks and timer and most importantly a great football culture, where teams get cheered on for the entire 90 minutes. Till then I will be happy to stand in serpentine queues and talk with football fans that travelled from all parts of India, bearing testimony to the growing popularity of the sport.

The dialogue continues between Colin Firth and Ruth Gemmel in the movie when Firth says that he can’t visit her due to a football match:

Ruth: yeah, you are sure you will be seeing Arsenal the next season, you can’t be sure if you will be seeing me.
Firth: Look I know where this is going, commitment and the long haul and all that, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen because of you not me. 21 years I have been going to Arsenal. 21 years.
Ruth: I don’t know if you have noticed, but Arsenal are a football team.
Firth: So you think there is a difference?
Ruth: Yes, I do.
Firth: Then it shows what you know about it.

MY NOTE: As parents we at times fail to understand the passion of the youths, and many parents confided about the dismay at the madness to see a football match, and that to an Exhibition Match.

To them I have this to say :
Thank Allah your son is mad after Messi and not Madonna !!

Thank You Shabbir for writing a wonderful memorable piece. I am not sure, it was the result of Mishti Doi or Messi Magic !!

Friday, September 2, 2011

AKHBAR IS ANWA'R - The distribution of booty at Al-Ji'ranah



Upon returning from the successful mission of lifting the siege in Ta’if Nabi (SA) waited over ten nights at Al-Ji’ranah, in the hope that Hawazin’s delegation (those defeated in Hunain) might arrive and announce their repentance and consequently reclaim their loss.

Seeing that none of them arrived, Nabi (SA) in order to calm down the tribal chiefs and the nobles of Makkah, started to distribute the booty, and the ones who obtained the greatest number of shares, were the people who had recently embraced Islam.
Abu Sufyan bin Harb was given a hundred camels and forty (gold) ounces and yet he said : “ What about my son, Yazeed’s share? So he was given the same quantity for his son as well. But yet he exclaimed : “ And what about the share of Mu’awiyah, my second son ? So Nabi (SA) gave Mu’awiyah as much as he gave his father and brother.

Likewise, Hakim bin Hizam was given a hundred camels , but was given a hundred more when he demanded. Safwan bin Umaiyah was given three hundred camels – a hundred camels at each time. (Ash – Shifa (1/86)

The generosity of Nabi (SA) to the chiefs of Makkah and the newly converts, resulted in a stampede by the Bedouins, so much so, that Nabi (SA) was forced to take refuse against a tree, and they even took away his mantle.

Rehmatul lil A’lameen Nabi (SA) addressed the tumultuous people saying: “O people ! Give me back my mantle. For I swear by the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul, that if had as many numerous camels as the number of Tihamah trees, I would have distributed them among you… “ Standing by his camel he said : “ O people, I swear by Allah that I get nothing but one fifth of your booty, and this very fifth also goes back to you”

After he had distributed the booty amongst the new converts, he distributed the remaining amongst the Muslims, and the Ansaars (Helpers – people of Medinah) were disgruntled and not satisfied, with what little they received compared to the booty received by the new converts.

Hunain represented hard times and they were the first to rush and to fight and stand firm with Nabi (SA) when the fighting was intense, whereas new converts like Abu Sufyan and Hakim bin Hizam, who escaped from the battlefield, when the tide turned against the Muslims, received large booty.

When resentment grew amongst the Helpers and ill statements spread, Nabi (SA) summoned Sa’d bin Ubadah and told him to gather all the Ansaars, and gave a very passionate speech, saying that although the Ansaars are not telling him directly, he can read their minds – saying ‘You (Muhammad S.A.) came to us belied and rejected, and we accepted you ; you came to us helpless and we helped you ; you were a fugitive, and we took you in; you were poor and we comforted you’

‘You Ansaars, do you feel anxious for the things of this world. Wherewith I have sought to incline these people unto the Faith in which you are already established ?

Are you not satisfied, O group of Helpers that the people go with ewes and camels, while you go along with the Messenger of Allah (SA) to your dwellings ….. Allah ! have mercy on the Ansaars, their children and their children’s children !

The audience wept till tears rolled down their beards as they said: “Yes we are satisfied, O Prophet of Allah ! with our lot and share”


As I read the Akhbaar of the distribution of booty at Ji’rannah which had happened in the year 8 AH and that Abu Sufyan bin Harb, from whose loins came Muawiyah and Yezid bin Muawiyah, was given a large share of the booty, a question arose in my mind.
Nabi (SA) who had been blessed with the I’lm of
‘ma kana sayakoon
at the time of Me’raj ( the ascension) the event which occurred at Mecca before the Hijrah, was aware, of all the events that will transpire in the future.

Surah al- Isra (verse 1) Allah shows His ayat – proofs, lessons, signs, evidence etc:
Surah al _Najm (Verses 12 to 18) also narrates the entire Me’raj episode.

In Vaaz we hear frequently of Jibraeel showing Nabi (SA) two ‘haveli mubaraks’ and on being asked, Jibraeel narrates the tragic incidents that will happen, one in Medinah and the other, on the burning sands of Karbala. Nabi (SA) knew, who were the perpetrators of the gruesome crime.

The question than is – Why OH ! Why! when Nabi (SA) knew that Sufyan bin Harb and his family were the perpetrators of crime against Nabi (SA) progeny, did he give out large booty to them, at the cost of earning resentment of the Ansaars, who had fought with valor and risked their very lives in the hard won battle of Hunain ??

I have found this question very perplexing. If any of you readers have an answer, I will be indebted to know.

Here I would request my readers to minimize the window or if you are using hand held device to keep it aside for a while, and try to reflect and answer the question. I would be really indebted for your answers, which may be shared in the comments link.

On reflection during Sehrullah 1432 H I have tried to understand the historical paradox, in my own humble way, and sharing the same with my readers.

The Anwa’r I see in this Akhbaar is that Nabi (SA) was the epitome and a living example of ‘salama’ which in the primary sense means – to be tranquil, at rest, to be at perfect peace, to be in absolute submission to the Will of Allah.

The last mentioned is the most important, Nabi (SA) was always living in THE NOW - THE PRESENT MOMENT. Nabi (SA) was here to enable the Divine Purpose of the Universe to unfold.

He epitomized the greatest power of the Universe – non resistance and complete submission to TOTALITY - Will Of Allah – saying YES to the PRESENT MOMENT – honoring the PRESENT MOMENT. ( I am indebted to the teaching of Eckhart Tolle)

Even after knowing the future, Nabi (SA) was submitting to THE WILL OF ALLAH, accepting and doing his duty in perfect peace. It was the WILL of ALLAH working through his Nabi (SA) in the NOW – The Present Moment, and Nabi (SA) was fully focused in discharging his obligations, in full compliance with THE WILL OF ALLAH – submitting in humility with grace, knowing ALLAH KNOWS BEST.

A most difficult task for ordinary mortals, knowing if at all the future and still accepting the paradox of the Present.

Now coming to the resentment of the Ansaars, there is so much Anwa’r in the Akhbaar, if one cares to reflect.

Nabi (SA) knows the minds of his followers fully. He well understands and sympathizes fully with the sacrifices made by the Ansaar, and the unequal distribution of the booty. But here again he is simply acting on the Will of Allah.

Nabi (SA) does not desire anything from himself. He articulates forcefully – mark his words :
“ O people, I swear by Allah that I get nothing but one fifth of your booty, and this very fifth also goes back to you”

However he fully understand human nature, and his sole mission is to make those who really love him, to unshackle themselves from gross materialism, to become farishta shifat in this world, and how true and meaningful are his words :

‘Are you not satisfied, O group of Ansaars that the people go with ewes and camels, while you go along with the Messenger of Allah (SA) to your dwellings ….. Allah ! have mercy on the Ansaars, their children and their children’s children !

There is a great lesson for us to be learnt from this Akhbaar. Many a times in our worldly journey, we are assailed with doubts, as to the happenings around us. When we see around us people, who do not deserve, who show merely outward profession of faith, their actions do not reflect their speech, getting rewarded with worldly goods, when we stand at such cross road in life, utterly confused and perplexed, we should be of firm faith and ask ourselves the question.
Do I want the world or my MOULA ?

Be honest with your self – what you want in this life. Moula knows what is best for you, so accept in humility, be at peace with your self. This is ‘salama’ – Islam.

There are many best selling books in the market, showing you ways and means to achieve what you desire – the question is what is your desire, what is the focus in your life. I am not saying you do not desire worldly comforts, or it is not good to aspire for high standard of living – what I am saying is to ACCEPT WHAT IS.

The doa Mubarak of Aqa Moula (TUS) barakAllaho does not only mean palatial bungalows, pricey cars, luxurious living, it depending upon what is good for you – Moula knows – it may mean, rise in the spiritual station, nearness to Moula, Ma’ad at jet speed after death etc:

In his Book ‘ The New Earth’ Eckhart Tolle gives a good example of a sapling to a question put forward to him. He says the sapling does not want anything – if it withers and dies, so be it. If it grows into a big tree – so be it. The reason is, it is one with the Will of Allah – with the Totality of the Universe, it has completely surrendered.

In a National Geographic documentary I was amazed to see the animals standing in lashing rain storm with their heads bowed, completely at ease, till heavy rains subsided.

A lesson to be learnt from the plants and animals. Accepting WHAT IS.

I am not advocating passivity, we are here to strive and achieve the best for ourselves and our family. But at times, we have to become still have firm faith in the Will of Allah and our MOULA and to be at perfect peace with ourselves, after giving our very best.

The lesson learnt is that – whatever the present moment contains, accept it, as if you had chosen it – there in lies your greatness.

In times of crisis of faith, remember the words of Nabi (SA) – ‘people go with ewes and camels while you go with the Messenger of Allah (SA)’ in our times we are in the saya of our beloved Aqa Moula (TUS)