Destiny often offers us opposing positions. Sometimes that of a Singing Nightingale, sometimes of Silent Rose. Occasionally we become a Sham’a (flame) loved and respected by others, while other times we give our hearts out and burn ourselves in love like a parvana (moth). Nay, when we remember Him when living on earth, we become the talk of the angelic hosts in the heaven.

There are times in life, when we wish were, what our elders are. The student wishes he were a teacher so that he too could command his students with a cane or assign homework. The employee when exhausted from work thinks of himself as the boss so as to sit on the revolving chair and command his fellow beings. Such a ‘selfish’ thought is only natural.

Jaihoon too experienced the same ‘selfishness’ when invited to lead the jury for a children’s arts meet. Several times in my school and college days, I had stood before the panel of judges, nervously awaiting their verdict. More often it was disappointment to be placed second, third or no position at all! As far as I can recall, it was at the age of six when I was proclaimed second for speech at the annual Madrasa meet.

However, this time it was the opposite. I was no longer the nervous participant, but the judge who gave the judgment. And it had a ‘personal excitement’ of its own. It was a first time experience to evaluate and appreciate the student’s performance based on the content, language, sound and presentation. While some were smoothly expressive, others stood embarrassed like a ‘traditional’ bride about to start her life’s riddle-some ride.

But no judgment is free from errors. The error may arise due to causes internal or external. It may be the judge’s state of anger or can be external factors like noise. Or it can be a strong affinity with the topic being evaluated.

In such scenarios, the participant wins and the judge loses. And that is basically what happened at the competition…

It was a Friday. The best day among others on which the His Beloved asked the believers to recite blessings upon him, for it is surely, and this he didn’t say merely, but in words clearly, going to be presented before him.

All through the songs and speeches, his name was mentioned which served as a ‘lovely excuse’ for the judge to recite blessings upon him. And it is all the more sweet when young ones narrated his sweeter name and sweetest life. A moment when one feels to drop the pen and fold the evaluation sheet, and instead listen soulfully to the children’s talk about Blessed One who played with children in one moment and conversed with Archangel Jibreel the next moment, who once affectionately enquired to a young boy about his little bird, who stepped down from the pulpit in midst of the sermon to attend to his grandson… sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Praise belongs to Allah who created his Beloved Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, the way he created. And thanks to Him for making a provision for the believers to send greetings to that Beloved. How many great leaders do we have among ourselves whom the common man do not have access to greet or simply exchange a smile.

Somehow, the competition ended. And the evaluation sheets were handed over. I had of course passed the judgment, but I was failed by sentiment.

And from the nearby hall, an appealing song was heard in an equally appealing language…

“mujhe Rawdha dikha dena,
meri qismat jagaa dena
Tamanna hai yeh dil ki,
Teri darbaar mein aawoon”

Sallallahu ala Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa sallam

July 20th 2003. Based on the Islamic Arts Meet ’03.