Each region on the planet is blessed with different miracles in varying degrees. Some in climatic conditions, others in natural resources and yet others in moral ethics of its peoples. There is no point in complaining about this imbalance in the scales of Destiny.

Today I had a chat with the imam of the local Masjid adjacent to the hospital where my second child was born. Due to the time-bound and space-limited lifestyle forced by the hospital environment, I had to make almost all prayers in the Masjid. The Imam was younger than me in age and was a student of the ‘Palli Dars’ (the traditional form of learning conducted in mosques) at the nearby grand Masjid.

The geographical location of the local Masjid had an interesting history of conflict of sociological nature. The Masjid and the liquor bar faced each other with less than fifty meters at the entrance of the hospital. The Imam described to me that the Masjid was constructed in a hurry to combat the malice of the bar. But sadly for the non-drinking believers, the Masjid was constructed AFTER the bar was approved by the local authorities. So the rationale of the court verdict was binding on all. Judiciary counts logic, not weighs the situation.

The Imam lamented that ninety nine per cent of the community’s members make up the majority of consumers of the beverage. They feel no shame in consuming it like plain water. The organized body of Ulama have tried to sponsor a survey of mass signatures from the believers to raise awareness in the community. I seriously joked in reply that those who would sign the survey would turn out to be a minority. Those whose heads are ‘above the water’ would not be so many!

Before we concluded our post fajr talk I reminded the young Imam that the state of Gujarat had succeeded in banning alcohol consumption, at least in apparent fashion. The Hindu majority state had the guts which the Muslim Malabar, with all its organized Muslim political and religious power had failed to achieve. If Gandhi Factor is the honorary reason for the largely successful ban n Gujarat, Malabar too is not lacking in spiritual cum political luminaries. Sheikh Zainuddeen Makhdum, Mampuram Sayyid Alavi Thangal, Kunjali Marakkar, Umar Qazi are only few I can quickly recall.

I cannot keep the next fact to my heart. Another bar has been approved in a very close town which is facing opposition from the community. The inside news I heard is that the protesters are themselves drunkards in secret. They are opposing the bar only to bargain a deal with the commercial liquor lobby.

What is the remedy for this malady? How far can one point finger at the Ulama? The community needs strong determination and focus on the real cancers within society. Most of the brain cells are burnt on external issues such as communal reservation and payback for others’ crimes.

Learn to accept, acknowledge and agree on the goodness from all peoples. Or else the glorious predecessors would be ashamed of the present generation of Malabar, if not the future.

“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice… (Al Maidah : 54)

Sitting at the floor of the hospital, enjoying the incredible view of the endless coconut trees greenery, I pray the Malabar Muslims find a way out of this growing alcoholic mess. Only then can they become the true inheritors of Makhdums and Marakkars. If Malabar succeeds, it is a piece of cake liberate the rest of the state from this menace.

July 17 2010