Ali wheeled down the park on his shiny black bike in the lovely November breeze. Not far, he spotted Omar and Hassan talking to a western-looking lad under the lush green Neem tree. Curiously, Ali parked his bike by the fence and walked over to the guys chattering merrily. It was their usual weekend hangout time.
“Assalam ualaikum, Ali” Hassan beamed: “Meet Francious. He’s from Paris and just moved here.”
Ali greeted with a smile: “Assalam ualaikum. Welcome to Karachi. You are from the city of fashion!”
“Oui (Yes)! France leads the world fashion alright.” Francious commented proudly with his green eyes sparkling.
“Francious, did you know that Baghdad was the Paris of the world in the 9th century?” Omar inquired.
“Baghdad? I thought they were known for producing oil.” Francious twitched his nose doubtfully.
“More than a thousand years ago, Muslim Spain brought fashions like high heels and light weight summer pants, too.” Omar offered.
“People in Muslim Spain began to follow a fashion calendar, changing their styles based on different seasons like we do today. And students who left Cordoba for other European and African countries took along fashion trends to those destinations.” Ali added.
“Really? That’s quite amazing! I thought Muslims only prayed and had a very dull life,” reflected Francious.
“Dull? They wore brightly-coloured clothes made of cotton, silk, and flax in the hot season. During winters they switched to warm, dark wools and cottons. Pakistan today is one of the leading producers of fabric in the world. Our fabric industry is world known and distinguished for its quality and innovative designs.” Omar boasted.
“Yeah, I noticed the huge billboards around the city advertising all kinds of fashion wear.” Francious agreed.
“Also, leather and cork-soled sandals became all the rage in Muslim Spain and were exported everywhere. Two Muslim writers also penned a book detailing how to make these sandals down to the specific stitching. So it was not just about clothes, it was about accessories too.” Hassan added.
“Today’s global Muslim fashion industry is worth USD 96 billion.” Ali confirmed.
“But don’t you think you should spend that money on education and health services?” Francious challenged.
“Yes we should. If not all of it, a large portion of it should go for the more important needs of the community,” nodded Omar.
“Well, thanks for the update guys. I’ll be seeing you around soon. It was nice to have met you, Ali.” Francious shook hands and mounted his bike to leave.
“Au revoir Francious.” Ali smiled back.
Omar murmured thoughtfully: “He does have a point. Why don’t we focus on more important needs of the Ummah? When I grow up, I am going to have a business that serves the community.”
“Like a cleanup company that gives jobs to people and also maintains a tidy, litter-free, and disease-free city. That’s my dream!” Ali added excitedly.
“Guys, can we have a little snack now and save the Ummah a bit later?” Hassan pleaded.
Ali and Omar raced after Hassan to punch him playfully as they headed to the nearby snack joint for their weekend outing.
“Don’t worry, I will offer you a job in my company. If you like, you can be the head janitor!” Ali teased Hassan.
The boys chased and nudged each other laughing all the way to the snack bar.