Guest Blog

Part V – Ohbat Out of the Box

August 16, 2020
Words Zainab S.    
Header Credits Alifiya S.

The beginning of a new year. 

As we approach Ashara Mubaraka 1442H, nostalgia is kicking in. Every year, we would prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually for the Majalis of Imam Hussain AS. The rush of excitement and curiosity would be looming over us as we would be awaiting Moula’s TUS verdict on where he would be conducting Ashara Mubaraka. 

All around, izan’s would be given to attend each other’s homes for ohbat. Every tailor would have his hands full with stitching our ridas and the few places which would be most likely to host Ashara, would have their hotels already booked, and the nearest route towards the main masjid already searched. 

Little did we know last year that all would soon come to a pause. This time, as we stepped away from Eid-Al-Fitr, I was concerned: we went through Ramadan, but what about the 10 days of Moharram?

This pandemic, this separation, this routine is nothing like we’ve ever gone through, so there aren’t any guidelines to follow.

Homeschooling my 4 year old while juggling my newborn and a 1.5 year old toddler altogether has been an overwhelming task. So I began to ponder, we’re stuck in this dilemma, why not try making the best of it? 

It is said there are 4 centers of learning: masjid, manzil, markaz and madrasah. Our Mawali Kiram AS have graciously blessed our homes by naming them a learning center! So that’s what I aim to do. 

This year, I am training my 4 year old daughter to look at Moula’s TUS photo and while I pray the beautiful naseehat ‘gar maara jism ni’, I tell her to make a sad face and shed at least one tear by any means possible. Luckily, my daughter really likes this particular naseehat and it touches her tiny heart when I tell her that whatever we have in life is because of Moula TUS, so she tries her best to shed at least one tear.

Now, I was prepared that it wasn’t going to be easy, so at first I just told her to make a sad face. Thereafter, we started the technique of yawning, which is proven to contract our face muscles and put pressure on our tear glands. So eventually she started getting wetness in her eyes. Once I saw this, I started making her pray Imam Hussain AS’s Shahadat. By the grace of Allah Ta’ala, she has been reciting the shahadat for a long time but this was different. 

With the Barakat of Moula TUS and this new method, she immediately makes a crying face whenever she recites the shahadat. 

Our children are the biggest bounties of Allah Ta’ala upon us. We are responsible for their upbringing so I always take Moula’s wasila while training her. Only Moula TUS can help us through these trying times and I believe if our intentions are pure, we can achieve our goals. My desire is to attain Moula’s TUS happiness and his blessing. May we all be successful in our endeavors and very soon, get to go to our Moula’s TUS hazrat aaliyah and witness Moula reciting the shahadat of Imam Hussain AS. May Allah Ta’ala grant a long and healthy life to our beloved Moula TUS till the day of judgment, Ameen.

Words Rashida J.

Words have always fascinated me, excited me and sometimes brought out the perfectionist in me. I hit pause and gleefully rush to Google whenever I come across a word that is foriegn in the hope that I can be smug in the possession of it or confident in the knowledge of it. Just today I tracked down ‘specious’.

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a bank of Arabic words, most of which have their origins in Maula’s bayaans. While, alas! I don’t have the social circle that allows me to use them without inviting blank uncomprehending looks, I can manage to slip in ‘taharat’ and on more daring moments – ‘siffat’. 

I remember the first year when the word ‘ohbat’ started ‘trending’ …I walked up to someone I thought would know and asked her the meaning. “Taiyyari,” she explained. It made sense seeing the buzz around at that time. 

So ‘ohbat’ was suddenly everywhere. In conversations, in actions, in home majlises, on Thursday nights in Masjids and especially in attire. A friend of mine flooded our inboxes with “Ohbat Ridas!!!”. That’s when I realised most people hadn’t bothered to approach the Bhabhi Saab to ask the meaning. Ohbat was the synonym for Ashara for most. So while it was not strictly true, if one says “Ohbat Ridas”, it wasn’t too far off the mark. I let it go.

I went ahead and bought two ‘ohbat ridas’ from the friend and when I was suitably attired, I let myself get caught in the frenzy of ohbat. 

At first it was hard. Ashara had come to mean putting together a wardrobe that involved careful planning of each day, putting together subtly elegant ridas making sure they were just bordering on ‘fancy’ and adding just the right touch of accessories by way of fabric bags and jewellery (no stinting on those, mind you!)

Cut to a few years later.

‘Ohbat’ was a word we finally understood! It WAS actually a synonym for Ashara! It pervaded our thoughts, actions, prayers, and it became a lifestyle not only in the countdown to Ashara but the whole year preceding.

Every single day, starting from Ashura, I worry whether I will be doing enough. In sajda, I pray for tears to Maula, I silently beseech for forgiveness for the lack of them; the two rakat namaz of noho aweel have become a daily constant, the hesitant exhorting to friends to attend Ashara has taken a more confident approach.

Out-of-the-box? I really don’t know. Nothing about ohbat can be untried and untested yet. As I make rotis for my family, I pray for timely tears and vocalise noho aweel for all. As I add salt in a dish, I pray for the same. As I pack food in lunch boxes, I say a little prayer to help us make Maula happy during Ashara days. And yet, all the while feeling extremely inadequate and small in the knowledge of having done nothing. 

So yes, while we are prepared and waiting to release all that we have prepared for a year, it’s never out-of-the-box and never ever enough.


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