Aya Sophia’s Pitchers - By: Mehboob Qadir

By Mehboob Qadir
Email: clay.potter@hotmail.com

Aya Sophia was built in 537AD as a grand Orthodox Christian basilica in Istanbul and remained so till Ottoman conquest in 1453 when it was converted into a mosque.It was secularized to become a museum in 1935 by Kemal Ataturk which it remains till today.The imperial grandeur of this imposing but simple structure is to be seen to be believed. Inside on the entrance to the main prayer hall are two huge marble urns placed side by side for the needful lustrations before prayers for the Muslims from the times of Sultan Murad 3 somewhere towards the end of 16th Century. These were being chiseled out of a single block of stone each by European craftsmen, since Hellenistic times.These pitchers have not moved eversince.They look strangely luxurious and sort of self conscious in an essentially frugal ambience which saturates interior of the church.

Having to refer to the history of the urns in Aya Sophia has a metaphoric similarity here.We will come to that as we proceed.When societies and communities degenerate and are on their way to extinction,debates about absurd abstractions and indefensible hypotheses surface and are passionately pursued.Our sitting rooms, seminar halls,media talk shows and public rallies are resonating with arguments which are normally dismissed as frivolous and the speakers as insane or at best low witted matched by equally strange attires and medieval robes as if they have just arrived in the wake of the Golden Horde or left out by Lord Clive’s Madras Office.Their emphasis always seems to be on unilateralist wisdom dusted out of a crumbling ancient mausoleum or Calcutta Presidency and total condemnation of opposing view.Before the sack of Baghdad by Helagu Khan in 1258, the city square was occupied by the fiery theologians and thousands of partisan listeners arguing whether a crow was halal or not.The Mongol Army had laid a siege and broke through the city walls, massacred the population and let the crows have a field day.

The upshot of our pitiably irrelevant socio-political debates is as good as the dialogue of the deaf . It is as if the Sophia pitchers were talking to each other.The pitchers remain fixed to their original plat forms since the last 400years and have not moved an inch closer neither physically nor ideologically.We too have become a nation of stone urns incapable of listening, accommodation and adjustment to each other’s world view.We have not budged in inch from our own little fire trenches . We want everyone to see how we see and believe the way we do.We live next to each other but are hardly ever willing to understand other’s point of view,make a common cause with or allow space to grow.Even blind Dolphins of the Indus are comparatively more civic minded than us. They live and swim together. We see only to discard, live to repel and gather to divide. Our courtesies are spurious, our manners have become superficial and our thoughts have crusted and rot badly. We mean to say nothing and we say to mean nothing. There is ,perhaps, none better than us in chasing its own tail and reach nowhere.Put these people out to the field and see the remarkable Darvish pirouette by each one of them.

Urns of Aya Sophia were a proud Ottoman possession and were erected at a place of honor with in the grand Mosque.They have become a curiosity and museum pieces through disuse and changed values of the host nation.We were once the proud partners of the magnificent Muslim empires in the Indian sub continent, but as the empires decomposed, we have gradually become a pernicious people whom every other nation wants to keep at an arm’s length and under watch.That is not what we and our children deserve.There are millions upon millions of men and women who had lost their parents, grand parents , friends ,family and generations of respect and property for making this country.This momumental act of collective will and perseverance, this gifted country can not be left to the scavengers to tear apart and destroy.There is immense goodness and industriousness in our people and they can rise again to an honorable place among peer nations provided we are rid of the wicked band of uncouth political leaders, spiteful mullahs, pseudo intellectuals and self appointed reformers busy dumping this great nation into the world’s garbage ditch.Lets not let this happen, we are not stone pitchers in the hall of nations where cockroaches might reside.

Posted on Dec 30, 17 | 11:50 pm