Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hannah's misaaq

To all those readers who are not able to understand that word in the title, a misaaq is an initiation of a person into the fold of adulthood; it is similar to the "janoi"or the thread ceremony of Brahmins; something similar to this exists in some form or the other in almost all faiths. I am reminded of my own misaaq which was performed when I was but 15 years old. A misaaq is performed by a priest upon a teenager who is ready to take on his/her own responsibilities and duties as a Muslim. Before the misaaq, the person is a child, and his/her caretakers are responsible for him/her and his/her deed (s). Once the person has been misaaq-i-fied,the responsibilities are his/her alone. He/she pays for his/her own sins and earns grace for his/her kind acts before the Almighty.

During the ceremony, which takes about 45-60 minutes, the priest goes over the history of Islam, explaining to the candidate the various events that shaped the religion and the various dates that defined it. He talks about the pillars of Islam, explains the meaning of the "kaleima" (There is but One God and His name is Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet). He goes on to tell about how our own sect of the Shias separated from the Sunnis, how Bohraism came to be, and finally informs the candidate about the Syedna - our Head of Religion. He asks the candidate to swear allegiance upon Islam and its rites and responsibilities, upon the Syedna and asks him/her to perform all the religious duties regularly.In a way, this ceremony is quite rigid, because no one who has undergone the misaaq can remain completely pure and only religious. The World has its own way of intruding into the privacy and purity of one's religious obligations and of twisting morals of an individual completely.

This, in fact, is something that the priest himself must surely be aware of, since they charge a not-so-insignificant sum of almost 4000 INR to do the job.

After the misaaq, my daughter Hannah (now renamed Habibah) went to school and attended it for the half day that remained to be completed. I plan to attach some pictures of the event later.

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