Of Celebrity Sheikhs and Fandoms

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Alia Adil

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32 extra special

“All set for the lecture tomorrow?” I casually asked a friend over a WhatsApp chat.

“Should I be going?” she inquired in return.

Consequently, I reasoned: “Well, half of the city seems to be overwhelmed with the idea of attending the lecture tomorrow. I assumed you would be going, too.”

“I respect the speaker enough to not treat him as a celebrity.”

It took me some time to figure out what she meant by this statement. I had never imagined this could be a reason for not being a part of an event. It was not just any event. It was a mega event. Everyone in the city, some even from the neighbouring cities, had been waiting for months for the scholar’s visit. People had been cautious about acquiring their tickets well on time, so that they did not miss out on this great opportunity to see the scholar ‘live’, right before their eyes. His popularity had grown tremendously over the past few years. YouTube videos of the scholar’s lectures were shared over the internet numerous times by avid viewers. He had followers in hundreds of thousands on Facebook and Twitter. Why would someone deny oneself the opportunity of a lifetime, so to say? Moreover, in Islam, we are taught to put in our best of efforts to acquire knowledge. Isn’t this contrary to the teaching of Islam, if we miss out on the chance to be in the company of the learned?

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