Huzur Factor: Some Thoughts

Nayeem Hossain

Nayeem Hossain

So here we go again. I didn’t want to write on this topic, because I know, no matter what I say or how many people read this (I doubt if more than 5 people does!) nothing is going to change. I might be colored as a Neo-Islamic fundamentalist or to some just another typical “Bangali Muslim”. But I’m neither. Religion is not my cup of tea but like everyone else on this planet (including some animals!) I am also identified as a member of religious race. A name of a sect holds more power than a lifetimes work, and I’m realizing it everyday in an expatriates life. That discussion is for another day. Let’s talk about an issue that’s been bothering me for a while.

Ramadan started. My Facebook news feed was bombarded with Ramadan wishes. My wife told me people are asking for Surahs from Quran as ringtones in Bangladesh. Fast and feast is having their own hypocritical competition and festivity and fundamentalism is having a blast at this point, that I’m pretty much sure. All these are our so-called middle class “Bhodro loks” who are turning into part time spirituals. I said this to a friend and bluntly that friend told me, “It’s more of a cultural thing, you shouldn’t look at it in a bad way”. My point is exactly, this semi hypocritical religious fanaticism IS a cultural thing, and soon we will pay the price. Very soon, trust me.

Some days ago, I was reading a blog of a friend who wrote something about Madrasas. I gave it a little thought and tried to reason the arguments within myself. I didn’t go for statistics or opinions, only what I have seen and understood, so this is a personal opinion. I might have got the entire thing wrong. If I did, please correct my misconception.

In Bangladesh, I was stunned to find that there are around 64000 Madrassas in Bangladesh and that’s an estimate of 2002 as per Bangladesh Observer. Let’s say for the sake of argument in last 8 years there weren’t a single new Madrassa in Bangladesh. If there are around 50 students in these places that means 3,200,000 students in these places! Who are these students? These are not your or my cousins, nor our friends, nor children of our co-workers. They might be the children of our maid, relatives from village or our favorite, orphans. As soon as one of us realize that we have successfully become a “Shaheb”, we decide to do something for the “greater good” and also to have some blessings from all mighty. And what can be better than making a Madrassa in a village, where they have no school, and never will have one. “Gorib manush er chelepuley, at least bhalo manush hobey”. We feel an orgasmic satisfaction. So we build one, have a bed and breakfast for life system for these kids and leave them to a Kari Fazil expert. From dawn to dask they start reading only one book and their entire intellectual upbringing is on that Kari Fazil expert. Day passes and these kids become teenager and start realizing one truth. The “Shaheb” didn’t send his kids to study with him, they are somewhere preparing for SAT. They have a very well defined social status. “huzur” is the only job they were prepared for and “huzur” is the only thing they can be. In a country which likes to showoff it’s secular cultural side, brushes these kids to a borderline of the social circle. The only time they are welcomed in “Shaheb’s house” is for “Quran Khotom” if someone dies, or on the day of Kurbani. Trade of death is what they are needed for and trading death is what they learn. Now the day passes to years, and the “Huzurs” get out in the wilderness looking a mosque where they can become get a work. As the harsh truth of demand and supply, many of these Huzurs don’t get work even in Madrassas and mosques. Some of them making a living in attending Chillahs as I heard from a Madrassa graduate. Interesting life isn’t it? We have created specialists with no specific job. So what do you think they see when they look at us?

Let me tell you. They see they have nothing to offer to the rest of the world. We’ll never seat with them on the same table to have a conversation, frankly speaking there’s nothing to talk. They have no future, no past and no present. Some feel cheated, some blame their fate and some just feel a vacuum. And in comes our Robin Hoods, saviors of the religion. They feel that vacuum, give them a purpose and give them a platform. “Take what is rightfully ours” was the words of the crusaders and we hear “Amra hobo Taleban, Bangla hobey Afgan”. These are the children of Bangali Muslim Bhodrolok’s orgasmic satisfaction.

We can have education board to update and upgrade the Madrassa curriculum and we can have quotas in Government job for them. But do you really think the problem is in professional incorporation of Madrassa graduates? It’s the social class system we have created for Huzurs. We make them Harijangs when they are kids and we make them spiritual guides when they are old. The youth of these kids are filled with misguidance, mistrust and misuse by every part of the society.

Do you see someone from your family here?

So for all the devoted religious people, just think about it before you decide to build another Huzur Factory, is it really that important? Before you give your two cents to them, think what else can you do for them. I would love to see these bed and breakfast hate breweries turned into places where not only someone with white long beard is telling them what is right and wrong. Where someone like you and me are also going and teaching them about the life before the after life.


8 Responses to “Huzur Factor: Some Thoughts”

  1. Abdur Rahman

    Factual error/lie in this artical about people making money from going on chillah. The fact is that when people go out for chillah and other durations they have to bear all the costs themselves there so its spending money and not making money.

  2. Aungshuman Zaman

    Quite evidently we have made a ticking time-bomb. And I don’t see it stopping any time soon. Thought provoking piece Naeem Bhai. Thanx.

  3. Muhamad

    most of the huzurs are pedosceles. I wouldn’t trust a single one of them with anybody’s child.

  4. Shafi A. Khaled

    What’s with this “orgasmic”? It’s very fashionable and prototypical western. But if you want to cast away the last remnants of civil speech and any modicum of modesty, feel free. Freedom of Speech has been known to be abused and you would not be the first one. I guess in our bid to become “developed” we are willing to divest all vestiges of our endowments. Is it possible that there’s nothing worth keeping except dal-bhat-mach-shak-mishti-shari-punjabi-lungi, our music, etc? I wonder whether you have children or plan to have any. Try teaching them orgasmic, please, if you are so fond of it. Use it with your mother, sister, or a bhabi. Perhaps you already do. Hence, your nonchalance and bravado. What’s the big deal? Right!

    Now, towards the end of your article you mention: “bed and breakfast hate breweries.” How do you know that? Have you seen or heard the graduates/students, young and old, spew slurs or be “komin” as you have amply proven? In fact, and I agree with you on many matters such as the futility of endless stream of madrassahs for the have-nots, the pariah status of their wards before and after education, the most important ideas that they are taught are ethics,justice and fairplay, patience, humility, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, consistency of talk and walk, etc. things that are entirely redundant in today’s Bangladesh; things that have no exchange value in the market place. Hence, it is requisitioned for our “harijans”. Here you spoke the truth as on few other matters also.

    Besides, please don’t bet entirely on technology education. Look what technology gave us: about 1/3rd of Bangaldeshis with arsenic poisoning, a humongous population explosion, Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Fallujah, etc.

    Please don’t entirely bet on Democracy either. Look what it gave us: Hitler, Apartheid, Palestine, 50% divorce rate, millions of teenage pregnancies and suicides, Iraq, etc. Democracy essentially is a devise to correlate property right with the right to govern. It is an important social structure. But cannot be end all.

    Demagoguery appeals for its flashiness. But its half-life is short. A balanced nation is not easy to build. Apparently, writing a balanced article is not easy either. But should that not be the first step? A solid message soundly delivered!

  5. nayeem hossain

    @ Mr. Rahman, error or lie? Neither, glad that was the only part you disagreed. Thanks for your comment.

    @ Aungshuman, welcome:) Both for comment and coming here 😀

    @ Mr. Khaled, I’m sorry if an english word makes you feel uncomfortable. May be you were only familiar with the word through one method, probably making personal attack is also something you learned by not attending Madrassas, where “ethics,justice and fairplay, patience, humility, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, consistency of talk and walk,” all these are taught. I hope you are going to enroll your children and make all effort to make everyone in your family to enroll their kids in a Madrassa too, as these values are very important. If not, then making a blank comment is also explained by one English word, “Hypocrisy”. But, you didn’t sound like one at all to me!

    Let’s see, I’m actually not betting on Democracy, but backing the system with everything. See without democracy, you won’t be able to even read and make a comment on this blog. But may be there’s a better system, say in Afghanistan that works better? Probably you can explain that in a separate blog entry so many people can be benefited. I didn’t know apartheid actually was a result of democracy or not. May be in that in that blog you can also explain how South Africa was saved by the undemocratic system they have imposed. Also out of 178 countries who has at least held one election, you mentioned Hitler. So now Hitler is the icon of democracy. I’m sure those day technology wasn’t that developed. Probably that history didn’t reach Gandhi,Nehru or Jinnah and that’s why they created two democratic countries. Fortunately for Pakistan at least some tried to correct that mistake by taking power in own hand and save the people, but alas!! All those democratic fanatics didn’t get it. Now there’s two instead of one democracies! And I’m sure you are hurting as much as I’m, sitting in one of those countries and expressing our point of views without persecution or oppression using “technology”.

    I really appreciate your comment and waiting eagerly to read your article.

  6. Shafi A. Khaled

    Mr. Nayeem Hossain:

    I agreed with you on your major issues, you may have failed to note those.

    To reiterate what I wrote earlier in my comment, I failed to note a creative balance in your heartfelt narrative.

    I used Democracy and Technology to illustrate that even these vaunted and valued tools can have shortcomings. Religion also has shortcomings if it is not properly contextualized. Since you have self-identified yourself as secularist, you may think that religion is all together redundant. I don’t agree with you there. However, we do have some convergence as I just noted.

    Clearly, you can dish it, but you cannot take it, is that it?

    You made it personal when you used the innuendo: “hate breweries”. These kids will never read your condemnation, but you have labeled them willy-nilly. Somebody has to play a devil’s advocate to confront your cavalier approach.

    Now, you don’t think orgasm is a term vulgar reserved for a certain type of (sometimes pertinent) conversation? I asked you, why inflict such dictions on the public when you would protect your own from it? That’s what made it personal for you. Well, when one chooses to waylay the public, even when doing so casually, I take it personally. A lot of this has been going on all around Bangladesh for a while. It does great disservice to the society. The merit of you article would have held had you chosen to be a little cautious and circumspect in your choice of linguistic form.

    Now, Hitler got elected in a democratic way.

    Democracies of the west refused to repudiate South Africa of yesteryears until some small groups around the US and Europe took their popular agitation far enough. Democracies endorsed Vietnam earlier and Iraq recently.

    Technology misused causes havoc of which I gave examples.

    Democracy is needed as is technology and as is compassion and ethics. But everything in proper measure.

    Inspite of your multiple valid points, your article was factually skewed on atleast two accounts (Chilla and hate breweries) and bombastic (orgasmic). Those made it partially rhetorical and demagogic.

    This is what I surmised from what and how you presented yourself in your right-up.

    BTW, in paragraph #3 of your article, you mentioned that you were willing to be corrected in the opinion you hold about madrassahs. Can you get past your anger against me and glean some value from at least two of the three commentators? I know I have put you on the spot. So far you have not handled it well. Your hasty response is a proof of that.

    Sorry, I won’t be writing any article any time soon. I am a reader seeking to learn from writers and thinkers who know and understand more than I do.

  7. Shafi A. Khaled

    An Apology and an Erratum

    This is the month of Ramadan. And, like many Bangladeshis the world around, I am fasting.

    Although Mr. Nayeem Hossain’s article was written before the onset of this special month, I read it in the last 10 days of the month and responded in that time-frame.

    I took umbrage about the use of a very sensuous, graphic word to describe euphoria among those who espouse and support opening madarssahs. It was, to put it mildly, an unkind cut. I would not have any of my children or family members read this article upon my recommendation. My asking Mr. Hossain to use that very word among his own family members, I sought to drive my point of his excessive, immodest, misplaced vitriol. I had the right to do this, but I lacked mercy and wisdom in pursuing to do it the way I did.

    There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad (sm) about people who opposed him. He said (paraphrasing) that when they argued with him or his followers, they actually resorted to insulting him and his followers. By using several terms or phrases, Mr. Hossain fell into that category.

    However, by doing tit for tat in hitting back, I lowered myself to his level and to being one from among the insulters. I am ashamed of my lack of self-control.

    Also, in the last paragraph of my last retort, I was satirical. This, too, is unacceptable. I am not allowed to belittle another fellow human being however deserving of it he may be on the surface.

    Thus, while legitmately defending certain aspects of madrassah education, I resorted to using illegal tools according to the everlasting teachings of Islam.

    So, I again apologize.

    I could have made my points had I worked a little harder with other terms and means. I chose a shortcut that belies my faithfulness and accentuates my laziness and insensitivity.

    Therefore, I apologize.

    May I be forgiven.

    My style of writing has not been Islamic. It’s following a western pattern of no-holds barred, winner-take-all debate. That was not in our culture before, but it has entered like a monster. I am a victim and I have become a perpetrator of this form of “art”.

    Now, again, there is a very old Islamic adage. In the age of virtue, vulgarity hides its ugly face. And in the age of vulgarity, virtue hides its beautiful self. The reason I protested Mr. Hossain’s language because increasingly in advertisements, clothings, billboards, movies, plays, poems and essays, we have adopted the western extended adolescent behavior that has for about two generations been consuming the adults there. Bangladesh is poor in many ways. It is trying to emerge. It would be a pity to introduce literally backward cultural practices (though they may be coming from the west) and replace whatever wealth Bangladesh has inherited with self-induced poverty.

    As to the erratum: It’s “write-up”, and not “right-up”.

  8. nayeem hossain

    Hmm..just want to clarify something..my “prompt” reply is not because I am angry at you, it’s a courtesy. If you took time from your busy schedule to read and write on my article, it just made sense to me to reply also. I guess that’s not the norm. Lesson learned, from now I’ll try to wait for 2-3 days:D

    The issue is not what you pointed out. It seemed both of you agreed on the essence of the article or that’s what I got at least from your two comments, but I guess you have to understand this is not a class X SSC exam paper. A writer has total freedom, as do a reader, to express in any metaphor they find appropriate.

    For you it might be for being “devil’s advocate” although I didn’t get who was the “devil” in this case and for me trying to give people a bit of a knee jerking 😀

    Have fun my friend…

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