Saturday, June 6, 2015
I began documenting Shiasm very late in life , more for personal reasons than anything ,,certainly not because I was a Shia .. As a Muslim born in a Shia family I had seen all this .. but not the blood letting perhaps only from a distance , We did not have many Shia friends we were totally isolated living at Wodehouse Road and my mother having lived in the slums on a crematorium in her early years in Mumbai Kurla was very scared of cemeteries ..so we stayed away from almost everything .. we had majlis at home .. sometimes our dad took us to see the Ashura juloos from far..
But later as a teenager I did go with another Khoja kid cut my back at Kaiser Bagh ,, is what I remember ,, and that was it . The entire tapestry of Moharam really opened up in a strange way I was an alcoholic and in a very bad stage of liver chirosis and the doctors had given up on me completely I had tried several times to give up alcohol it did not work I did not have the power to ease out the demonic hold on me ,, till late .
I went under treatment , and a very rigorous one , the psychiatrist told my wife I had to pick up something a hobby or some diversion more intoxicating than alcohol itself ,I was not a congregational religious person.. I stayed away from everything religious ,, However I thought of taking up photography and wearing a pant shirt , I started dressing crazily later in life due to my connection with Bollywood only.
It was Moharam I landed up at JJ signal to shoot Ashura juloos , and this young guy came over to me asking me why I was shooting them I told him I was a Shia too,, and having been out of circulation from my religion I was trying to go back to my childhood memories of Moharam .. this young guy was Baqar Nasser from Imamwada , he called his brother who had a eye patch he was hit by a blade of a zanjir, who gave me a pamphlet on Ashura Moharam , he was shooting with a point and shoot camera he was hospitable kind informative he said his name was Habib Nasser and Baqar was his younger brother .
Thus began my tryst with Moharam and a reborn spirit of my own roots as a Shia, We became friends and I got back to them , Habib wanted to buy a DSLR I introduced him to the camera dealers at Fort I was a hon member as a amateur photographer of the Photographic Trade of India..and to cut a very long story short it was Habib and Baqar , who helped me document other important Shia days , Shia juloos taking me to Lucknow my native place to shoot Athvi..
I was shooting Shiasm not for propagating or proselytizing my faith I was simply shooting to get away from the pangs of my alcoholic disease and I was shooting manically . BW Color slides everything with one camera. .
After having shot Moharam in Mumbai for two years I decided to shoot Moharam in Kolkatta Delhi Hyderabad Jaorah Mehmoodabad , Chennai came much later and I began blogging the Shia way of life taking text from other Shia sites .. my cutting came many years later at Hyderabad and than with Habibs Anjuman.. foreign photographers contacted me I let them accompany me to shoot Moharam in Mumbai without monetary profit or gain..Than came a huge blow my Shia stream at my websites was hacked with pornographic images there was Hell to pay with people in my hometown baying for my blood I was new to this aspect of blogging an American friend Tom Andrews in Hollywood helped me delete my site , I could not do it by myself he contacted the site owners and I decided never to blog..but than even my Shia Word Press site had been hacked .
I think I again decided to blog once I came to Flickr in 2007 creating separate sets for my Hindu Blogs , Christian blogs poetry other religions my genre was street photography rituals culture ,,demonic possession exorcism and finally I began documenting Sufism too ,,and religious rituals and life of the Indian transgender a set that I disabled from public view a few years back.
I gave up shooting Moharam in Mumbai completely after a bitter personal experience and now shoot Moharam in Lucknow and Hyderabad .
Recently two Sunni people took objection to the Shia children cutting their heads and there as a huge anger among the Shia as these are traditions that have been going on since hundreds of years in India and other countries that have a Shia population.I used to shoot kids very young having their heads cut known as Kamazani and it was not just Shia kids I have seen new born Hindu babies with their mothers at Chennai during Ashura waiting for their childs head to be cut as a mark of respect for Imam Hussain and to protect their child from evil.. I have shot Sunni anjumans cutting their heads and doing vicious blade matam at Hyderabad ,, it was a fervor protest against the Oppressors of Islam during the early days of Islam the decapitating of Imam Alis head in a Mosque the genocide at Karbala of Imam Hussain the grandson of the Holy Prophet , and this shedding of our blood became our cry of revolt against the earliest terrorists .. all born bred in Islamic society .. Terrorism is a by product of Islam .. though people try to hide it it comes back to haunt them as Talibans Jehadists and the demonic force under Satan called ISIS.
Kamzani among children is rampant everywhere more commonly in Hyderabad and Lucknow .. In Mumbai its been going on for many years , and there has been no deaths .. and those who misguided our esteemed Judiciary with their sanctimonious plea and PIL and Holier Than Thou attitude , never raised their voice at all when Talibans slaughtered Army kids in Peshawar , or when American other foreign hostages were brutally murdered burnt in cages , crucified , women forced to slavery child rape simply because it is all part of Sunni Wahabbi Salafi ideology of ethnic cleansing.. they are still quiet as Hindus Sikhs Christians in Pakistan are framed their properties usurped all done with the demonic Blasphemy law ,, I am lucky I am an Indian a Shia Muslim born in India ,, I promote my Hindu culture instead of promoting Arabic barbarism and the ruthlessness of the Oppressors in Islam.. of Islam by Islam an Islam that was about Peace and Brotherhood hijacked by the spiritual Salafi warlords in Saudi Arabia .
My grandkids all three girls have done zanjir zani whem only 3 month old , my grand daughter has done kama matam.. I have no issues .. we are a persecuted race you kill us we are born again.. we die since 1400 but our spirit of Hussainyat does not die will never die ,,
So through 60000 images I have showcased Shiasm In India with 61000 Hindu Blogs showcased Hope and Hindutva a message of Universal Peace ,, let it be known if there was Hussain in Hinduism I would become a Hindu..
I have with over 35000 blogs showcased Sufism in India .. I am a Malang of Ali but than there is another segment in Shiasm that even considers peaceful malangs like us to be heretic and if living in peace with my neighbor is Heresy I would rather be a Heretic and if this Heresy has made me Human than I am happy to be a Shia.
In Hyderabad even girls cut their heads and yet the two pompous Sunni gentleman keep silent when the heads of the innocent Yezdis Armenian Christian Coptic Christians were cut by the ISIS .
Also let it be known all my paternal forefathers were Sunnis , my dad said originated from a race called Moghul Pathans , my fathers father gave up Sunnism to become a Shia and my life could never have been better ,,so my respect for the Sunni faith has never diminished ..mutual respect tolerance and I believe in Sunni Shia amity .. living as Indians it is more important than just living as sectarian divided Muslims ..
And this is not a picture just ignore it , this a personal blog I could have put my own picture with my bleeding head but that would be my misplaced Ego.. I am a product of my Mothers Womb.. It gave birth to Shias ,, Hamdullah.
As a Shia I may not have your bigoted spiritual vision even if you are a Muslim .. My Shiasm is a product of My Indianness My Karbala is my Dharam Bhumi.. my Karbala is everywhere and my Ashura is Every Day ,,,
Even if I do get a ticket to go to Iraq Karbala I will give it to a poor person.. who will perhaps never get a chance to see Karbala .. For me Karbala is an emotion that will live after I am dead and gone
This was shot by my granddaughter Marziya Shakir on Independence day 2012 ...Marziya Shakir was 4 year old .. Nerjis was 1 year old ...already scouring the streets with me .
Marziya shot Bandra Bazar Road , our pathetic surroundings and the beggars and koli fisherwomen.. while Nerjis watched all this ,, Nerjis on her part began shooting at the age of 18 month.
The story of this picture is about the Desi chicken seller , .. he performed Haj with his wife last year 2014 ,, Haj totally changed him and I began calling him Haji Sab, he liked that very much, I hardly call anyone by name so calling him Haji Sab in the market made him very happy ,, and than he took me aside and said .. Firoze Bhai I hope you get a chance to perform Haj ,,I would love calling you Haji Sab too.. this is the simplicity of simple people and it is this simplicity that I shoot and showcase .
I met him yesterday and told him I was going to shoot his video I had just finished my 8 km walk at MET Grounds Reclamation..I sat on the floor next to him and began my shoot .
He has been selling desi chicken since the age of 15 at this very Bandra Bazar market.. on the road .his father sold chickens too.. and they were the only Desi chicken sellers as the rest of the market sold broilers .
As my granddaughter have shot him , he loves them both .. and he has 4 sons and two daughters all married save a son.. all happily settled through his earnings as a chicken seller ..it is these common people in my area, poor Muslims hardworking Muslims I shoot , Muslims who dont begrudge another mans wealth , Muslims who are happy with their lot even if the roof falls on their head ..for good or bad they say Allah Malik Hai ,, which means God is the Great Master .. or All Ki Den which means Gift of God ,, even when they have 6 children they say it is Gods Gift.. though personally I wish their spiritual satraps would advise them to have fewer children and give the few a better quality of life.
Well it is his personal life , and my thoughts are merely a corollary to changing times for all of us including Muslims .
Here in Bandra what touches me the most is Religion does not bifurcate us or separates us ,he is a Sunni I am a Shia but it hardly matters , we dont discuss our sect.. never.
Almost the majority of my contacts wellwishers shop keepers butchers are Sunni and we get along beautifully ,, no ill will only goodwill.
The Banana seller down the road near MET who gave his hard earned savings to a friend to keep , left without informing him to his native place , giving the excuse that there was an emergency... but the banana seller who was eagerly waiting to go to his native place his daughters impending wedding had to postpone his trip and all he said to me Allah Malik Hai..
And than my mothers words came back to me like a bolt from the blue ,,
Woh Izzo Manto Shah Ho Wo Zillo Manto Shah Ho..
God is the one who gives us our Respect and our Self Esteem. we on our part have to continue with our Good deeds even if Bad things keep coming in our way..
A young guy sent me a message on Flickr ,,
You are such a great photographer! Glad to see your gallery, the collection is very unique.
God bless u, keep on clicking!
I thanked him and told him I was a simple photographer ..and the pride of ones camera gets you nowhere ,, if the camera does not teach you Humility than one must give up Photography for good .
This is my first blog of the day as I will leave now for my 8 km walk.. with a brand new keds gifted to me and my wife by our only daughter in Delhi.
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