It was the wedding of Aatay Rasheed’s daughter. The party was ready, and on horse-back and on foot, the villagers set off for Thayna Jaar – soon to be the bride’s home.
As we set off, the groom’s party sought Aatay Rasheed’s permission to play some music and dance in celebration. He gave a hesitant nod. No sooner had the music started, that these bearded few people began screaming. They were the mullahs, and they pushed their way to the front. They were fuming with anger that someone had dared play music.
“It’s HARAM!”, they declared.
One of the mullahs, my Iran-based nephew Baseer, picked up the cassette player over his head and threatened to smash it to the ground if any more music was played. He frothed:
“Music invites the devil. Prayers bring blessings.”
The villagers and the procession began chanting prayers and salawat. There was no more music, no more laughter, just a loud chorus of salawat. It felt like a funeral procession.
Once the procession had reached the outer limits of the village, your father, still young, walked to the front. He held his arms up, jacket in the one hand, and began dancing. The children clapped, some of the men joined in. The women beat the drums. There was music, and the procession danced and laughed all the way to Thayna Jaar. Fearing backlash from your father and the youth, the mullahs could do nothing but watch in anger and despair.
It was a good day. But once that was over, they stopped inviting us to the weddings. My nephew Mohammad Hussain got married. They didn’t invite us. Your auntie got married. They didn’t invite us. They didn’t like your father’s dance.
*Haram = Arabic for sinful; forbidden on religious grounds
*Salawat = Prayers wishing peace upon the prophet and his family.