Decline and fall of the Roman empire
A short time
ago the month of Moharram, which marks the
start of the New Year according to Islam,
has begun. In the past I have been in Ajmer,
India when Moharram started and I think
back with mixed feelings to it as it was
a difficult time for me.
In the India
where I was Sunni and Shia Islam are not
two separate worlds. On the dargah of Khwaja
Sahab there is for some time no qawwali.
Because I followed everything in a Sufi
khaneqah with its stressing of the importance
of ‘Ali you can understand that Muharram
is an important month.
the sad fate of Husain, the grandson of
the prophet, who became a martyr in Kerbala.
The activities start on the first day of
Moharram and end on the 10th, the actual
day of martyrdom. Many households, both
Sunni and Shia, do not make any fire on
the 10th of Moharram.
my shaykh and I went out to listen to a
pious sermon. For me it was very difficult,
because it took so long a time every night.
We have attended speeches, which lasted
4 to 6 hours and all in Urdu of course.
I saw the one delivering the speech using
all the tricks he had in his sleeve, big
and sudden movements, using a loud voice
and then changing it to a very soft pitch.
Every day hours and hours of speech and
I understood nothing.
I assume that
my shaykh, being aware of my level in Urdu,
used it as a kind of ascetic practice, to
stay awake for long hours in the night.
Of course breakfast came at its usual time,
so no possibility to rest. The only thing
I understood during 10 long nights was the
following: “Gibson’s Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire” and
then it went on for hours (and hours) in
to admit that the worst in me came to the
surface. If you would have known what things
were present in my mind you would not like
to be my friends anymore. I could almost
kick some of these preachers. But I also
remember that afterwards one of them shook
hands with me in such a friendly way, that
I immediately forgot all about my aggressive
feelings. The long hours of sitting (straight
back, not leaning against anything, legs
folded underneath me) and understanding
nothing were a real and very hard test for
me, but I thought afterwards that if I could
cope with that I could cope with everything.