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Dastangoi Celebrates Prophet Muhammad’s Act of Kindness: The Grape Story

Ahead of Prophet Muhammad’s birth anniversary, Saira Shah and Dr Fuad Halim open their door to an interfaith celebration with a Danstangoi- Chaar Sikkay

Kolkata: Once Prophet Muhammad was sitting with his Sahabas (companions). When a guest came to meet him with some grapes as an offering. The poor fellow who had brought the grapes was looking at Prophet Muhammad with great affection. Prophet Muhammad picked one grape and ate it. The fellow kept looking at Prophet Muhammad and he continued eating it. He was very happy that Prophet Muhammad liked his grapes and finished it. Normally, when some offerings or gifts were given to him, he used to share it with everyone. When the guests left the place, the Sahabas asked Prophet Muhammad, why did he not share the grapes with anyone else. The Prophet replied, that the grapes were sour and if I would have shared with you all, and if someone would make it obvious with their facial expression that the grapes were sour, then he (the guest) might not feel good. So I ate it all, without making him feel that it was sour.

A unique forty-five-minute long Dastangoi — oral form of storytelling, to mark the historical value, bust misinformations and to celebrate the spirit of the Prophet– Chaar Sikkay was organised for the first time in Kolkata.

What was more interesting was the choice of Dastango – Zahid Hussain and Palash Chaturvedi, who took the audience through the life of the Prophet, without being preachy.

The duo began the narration, with anecdotes from the life of The Prophet that were seamlessly woven with dialogues to accentuate the spirit, simplicity and sense of justice of The Prophet.

And not only the narration was interesting but also the host and the audience.

Organised by Saira Shah and Dr Fuad Halim at their residence in Iran Society, the spectators of the first-of-a-kind Dastangoi hailed from different walks of life, faith and gender. While many also thought that a true Lucknowi ambience had been replicated at the residence for the event.

Mudar Patherya, who introduced the narrators, said “It is a beginning and in future, we will do it with other such figures like Gurunanark and Maryada Purushottam Ram.” He also pointed out that there will be no use of Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam (Peace Be Upon Him) every time the Prophet’s name comes during the talk. Instead Huzur, a word which refers to Prophet Muhammad will be used.

Listen to Chaar Sikkay Danstangoi on Prophet Muhammad

At the beginning, Chaturvedi mentioned the sayings of famous Irish playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw, “The world needs a person like Muhammad. Whatever I have read and learnt about him, he was not against Christianity. He was for the whole of humanity.”

“If he had been given the responsibility to run the world, several issues of the world would have been sorted out. The world would have peace, believed Shaw,” said Chaturvedi

He then went on to narrate a unique daily ritual of Prophet Muhammad’s household. Every night all the items and money which remained at home would be distributed among the needy. One day, when the Prophet was unwell. The family members, thinking that some need might arise for money in the middle of the night, kept four coins aside while following the daily ritual of distributing the excess to those in need. Before going to sleep, Prophet Muhammad inquired if all the items and money had been distributed among the needy. He was told that because of his health condition, four coins had been kept aside for any emergency. The Prophet said, would the Allah, who arranged for us during the day, not do so at night. And he told them to distribute those coins among the needful.

Hussain, a teacher of performing art, narrated the famous old lady’s story. She used to throw garbage at Prophet Muhammad whenever he crossed her house. On one occasion, when she did not throw garbage at him, following which he inquired about her. He was informed that she is ill. He went to meet her and stayed with her, helping with her treatment. Seeing the kindness of a person, on whom she used to throw garbage, the lady embraced Islam.

The narrators during their discourse even mentioned Jihad and the misconceptions about it. They also touched upon the Madarsa education system, the importance of education in Islam and also how much Prophet Muhammad used to like cats.

In the end, the duo also told the gatherings that today because of WhatsApp and social media, misinformation is being circulated about the Prophet.

“I am a digital marketing professional. But I like this form of art of telling stories. So I often do it with Zahid,” Chaturvedi told eNewsroom.

The audience was also very engrossed with the Urdu pronunciation of Chaturvedi, he said that it is because of his family, where Urdu has been spoken for generations.

Hussain informed eNewsroom, “We have been doing Dastangoi on several issues for a long time. But yes, today is the first time that we have done it with a religious personality.”

“We hosted this secular discourse to highlight the human aspect of Prophet Muhammad. It was not about a religious leader or divine human but what he did as a human for mankind. We kept in mind to keep away from the regular religious discourse, so all community people can join to listen to it,” said Dr Fuad Halim.

“It was a small initiative but an important step to set the ball rolling to engage every community in coming closure,” added Dr Fuad.

Shahnawaz Akhtar

is Founder of eNewsroom. He loves doing human interest, political and environment related stories.

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