Monday, May 21, 2012

COMMERCE & SPIRITUALITY - Between the enjoyment of consuming, and the happiness of giving and sharing...

Abbot: Mine is made in China. What about yours?
Muslim Dude: Golly! Even my 'little Kaaba' is made in China.

Holy Days and Holy Wastes
Romantic love rules the airwaves,
Anniversaries and Valentine’s Day,
Motherly love rules on Mother’s Day,
Fatherly love rules on Father’s Day,
Friendly love rules on Birthdays,
And thankfully... Godly love is celebrated
On the His Holy Days, 

But every day the love is ruined
By over-commercialization
And exploitation, the message
Lost in a morass of holy waste
And religious haze.

COMMERCE AND SPIRITUALITY. Actually, even before the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), commerce and religion has always been intertwined. You need only visit the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, to see pilgrim-tourist businesses thriving along the Masjid Nabawi and the Masjidil Haram. And Jerusalem too, the shared holy city for the Jews, Christians and Muslims. Everywhere you can find faux relics of saints and prophets, the Hand of Fatima, the Turkish Ward against the Evil Eye and all sorts of rosaries, tasbihs, clay and china figurines of the Virgin Mother, Verses of the Quran and Bible framed and sometimes etched on sheep skin, miniature little Kaabas, whirling Mehlevi dervishes and etc. The beauty (or crassness, let’s be honest here) of the spiritual souveniers is only limited by the imagination of the artist or the prolific factories in China, where all these religious bric-a-bracs appear to come from.

Jerusalem, present day. This procession of the Christian Nuns
have been going on for the longest time.
SPECIAL ……… (insert your religious festival here)……. PROMOTION! So I am going to be realistic and not proceed to condemn the commercialization of religious holidays and festivities. But like all things in life… it ought to be done in a measured and sensible level. There was once a time in Malaysia, when the Muslims tend to scorn the commercial exploitation of Christmas – you know, all that glittering Christmas trees, Santas and Santarinas on hire, and the give-your-loved-ones-Xmas-presents-though-you-will-max-your-credit-card kinda promotional ethos of the big super malls of Malaysia (oh yes. We have them aplenty). But now, alas, I do not really see that much difference between the Muslims and Christians. Muslims too can be guilty of unparalleled consumerism during the Eidul Fitri celebrations - New curtains, new sofas, new cellphones, new laptops, new TVs and even new cars sometimes.

Jerusalem, 1915. The last recorded procession of the Ottoman's
Feast for the Prophet Moses. 
A FINE BALANCE. And I shan’t be a party-pooper or Mr. Killjoy. After all, we are not saints. Nor are we Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Sufi hermits. But I think there must be a fine balance we can strive towards... between self-gratification and philanthropy, between the enjoyment of consuming and the happiness of giving and sharing. 

CONCLUSION. Whether you are a Muslim or Christian (or Jew, Hindu, Punjabi, Wiccan… etc), I think we shall all benefit from focusing more on the giving bit, rather than the consuming bit. And the first 'giving' flavor for the day? - Let us give each other, of whatever race or faith we may be, the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of our tolerance and understanding. The benefit of our compassion and mercy.  And I do not think we need a special day or event to to give voice to such humanity. Not when we are aware that everyday is a blessed day from God... 24 never-to-be-gained-again hours especially created for you and for me.

Don’t you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

No comments: