Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In memoriam: Khatib Obaidul Huq

In memoriam:Khatib Obaidul Huq, the conductor of much publicized Tauba ceremony, passed away
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, USA

October 09 2007

Khatib Obaidul Huq, the conductor of much publicized Tauba ceremony, passed away

“Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.” -- Shakespeare in “All’s Well That Ends Well”.

The controversial khatib of Bangladesh’s National Mosque, Bait-ul-Mukarram, Maulana Obaidul Huq, had just died on October 6, 2007, as per Jugantor, a prominent vernacular newspaper published from Dhaka.

In case some readers have forgotten already, Maulana Obaidul Huq conducted the much talked about “Tauba” (Islamic Repentance) ceremony for secularist and one-time leftist newspaper editor, Matiur Rahman, in September 2007. The editor was blamed for the publication of an innocuous cartoon over the usage of Prophet Muhammad’s name in the magazine supplement Alpin of vernacular newspaper Prothom Alo, which created much fuss among Islamists, who thought that the prophet’s good name was maligned. Shortly thereafter the protestation by Islamists the government arranged the “Tauba” ceremony to forgive the beleaguered and harried editor.

Maulana Obaidul Huq and his fellow preachers had worn a sardonic smile while the editor literally stooped before them. The photo of the “Tauba” ceremony graced the pages of many newspapers published from Dhaka. If you’ve not seen one, I strongly recommend you to do a Google search and see for yourself the complacency of the Khatib and his friends. The secularists and freethinkers took it on their chin the infamy of this defeat. However, hardly a month could pass by before the old khatib kicked the bucket. Did anyone perform the last “Tauba” rite to this obstinate man who had been an obscurantist all his life?

The khatib, who lambasted George Bush in the aftermath of Talibans’ defeat in the hands of American GIs in December 2001, uttered some nasty words while delivering sermons in an Eid prayer in presence of the president and a few ministers of Khaleda Zia. The wise and old Khatib said that Muslims should spit on George Bush for what he has done to the Muslim world. We never heard from the khatib any denunciatory words against Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda.

Maulana Obaidul Huq who was considered one of the leading Islamic intellectuals in the entire Bangladesh had a colorful life. Do you care to know that he maintained two wives throughout his married life? He sired 5 children through his first wife and 6 more children through his second wife while contributing to world’s massive population growth.

The departed Khatib was considered the “Murrubbi” (eldest and respected wise man), leading Islamic thinker, and the keeper of National Mosque in Dhaka, according to daily Jugantor, Dhaka’s one of the leading vernacular newspaper. He turned 79 hardly five months ago. He supposedly suffered a massive heart attack while attending the Iftar party given by the Iranian embassy.

Maulana Obaidul Huq served as the Khatib of National Mosque for 23 years. However, he fell from grace after his famous Khutba (sermon) in which he demonized President George Bush. The khatib left Bait-ul Mukarram only for a brief period but the Islamists brought him back to the pedestal after a brief sojourn. Such was the power he wielded in Bangladesh. The khatib possessed an acerbic tongue, which he used frequently against anybody or organization that critiqued him or Wahhabi doctrine.

The Khatib was the force that strengthened such vicious organization as Khatme Nabuwaat. He was the founder-President of this hate group. This organization went on harassing Ahmadiya community allover Bangladesh. The Khatib held the view lifelong that Ahmadiyas are non-Muslim. Because of this erudition in matters related to Islam, the Khatib was made the chairman of the Sha’ria Board, Islamic Bank. He was also a member of the New Moon Sighting committee that determines the day Eid will be held in Bangladesh.

We are going to read the words of condolence from people everywhere and from all walks of life. The Khatib and his inner circle were solely responsible for directing our people away from Sufi Islam towards a virulent brand of Islam – the Wahhabism. We will not be surprised to hear that he was intimately connected with the puritanical movement of Tablig Al-Jamaat, which holds their yearly get-together at Tungi near Dhaka in which an estimated 3 million people gather to join in a supplication ceremony at the end of the Islamic gathering.

Sadly, Bangladesh has veered so much so towards Wahhabi Islam, and thanks to the joint efforts of political parties and other religious organizations for this sordid development, that the entire nation will now lament the loss of this obscurantist who once asked the entire 1.25 billion Muslims to spit on America to drown the nation in an ocean of saliva. This man harbored nothing but malice in his heart for America while condoning terrorism sponsored by al-Qaeda.

Bangladesh had lost many great sons and daughters of this republic but not much public condolence were offered to them. Only years ago Prof. Humayun Azad died untimely while he visited Germany on fellowship. Many knowledgeable believe that Prof. Azad died due to complications developed in the aftermath of attempted assassination by Islamists. Before that Prof. Ahmed Sharif died but not much was spoken about their contribution. However, this time around when the obscurantist par excellence, the khatib of the National Mosque, died, the nation would pay respect to the man while showering a glowing tribute. Such is norm these days in Bangladesh.
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA
E mail : jhankar@bellsouth.net

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