Eid and Ramadan at Vergenoegen Jama’at

August 20, 2012 at 2:44 am Leave a comment

By Imran Khan

Today is Eid-Ul-Fitr. It brings to an end the month of Ramadan. I grew up as a Muslim in Guyana as part of the Vergenoegen Jama’at. For years upon years I fasted for the entire month and celebrated Eid-Ul-Fitr at the conclusion. Those were epically beautiful, communal times. Those were times that taught me life lessons that have made me a better man than I could have been; lessons which lifted and sustained me at times when there were difficulties, doubts and challenges.

The sustained brotherhood, camaraderie and love that consume Muslims during 29 or 30 days of Ramadan are unmatched, perhaps unmatchable. It is communal, it is beautiful. It is the essence of what humanity ought to be. It is a time when regardless of disagreements or conflicts every brother and sister must be taken care of; the harbouring of ill will and the display of unbrotherliness are not tolerated.

I shall remain eternally grateful to the brothers and sisters of the jama’at for guidance, advice, strength, friendship and their commitment to goodness and humanity.

Brother Khalil’s perceptive teachings, incisive thoughts and astute counsel; Buddy Safo’s (Uncle Safdar) shared experience, wisdom and those wonderful and fantastic stories, Uncle Farouk’s quiet reassurance, unfailing determination and always positive outlook regardless of circumstance; Uncle Afzaal’s teaching from Quran and uncompromising insistence on respect for elders (such as Uncle Tomby) and Islam in general, Brother Wazir’s always passionate advice and reason, Brother Assad’s dignified and classy demeanour and composure and those most melodious and musical adhans which my grandmother, Aunty Nazmoon and everyone else positively loved and also those doozer tarawi surahs which put many of us to sleep; Brother Shaheed’s belief in young people and his stern commitment to discipline.

I thank my brothers Safraz, Aleem, Javed x2, Asif x2 (Budilow and Petch), Faiaz, Khalid, Timur, Rafi and Babby for friendship and the memorable and immensely good times. They each enhanced the joys of growing up immeasurably.

The brothers who were older than us both took advantage of us with thumps, knuckles, slaps and the occasional cuffs as their own formula for toughening us up, making us aware that nothing came easy and that we must earn every little right. Brothers Ramzan, Kassim, Rafeek, Siddique, Ayube, Goat and others.

And as the wheel of life turned there were the brothers who came after us and endured their own share of ‘earning their stripes’: Royan, Imti, Arif, Hanif, Raymon, Taleem and others.

At the time when I was a part of the Vergenoegen Jamaat our masjid was the homely old wooden masjid at the corner of Old Road and Truck Line and next to the Naddy Bush plot. Our Muslim sisters did not attend masjid then save for the girls who attended madrasa and, in the latter years, suitably screened off, only on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Now there is the grand new masjid by the highway and sisters attend routinely.

The love and strength of our aunts and sisters, though they were not at the mosque, were never distant from our minds. My grandma, Aunty Nazmoon, Aunty Shanta, Aunty Sherry, Aunty Sue, Aunty Shezie, Aunty Kudratool and others were pillars of strength.

Though I am no longer a Muslim most of my relatives are. On a day like today I miss Vergenoegen Jama’at most – the gathering of all, the jollification, the unbridled love amongst family and community. And depressingly too, I will, once again, miss being in Veggae to partake in the acres of food on offer at every home. Above all else I miss the utter joy fostered by Ramadan and the fast. Almost everyday I am thankful for the many lessons learnt from having grown up Muslim and I have reason to note the immense respect I retain for Islam and many of its teachings.

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Entry filed under: People of Vergenoegen.

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