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.
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.