Bangladesh makes world’s biggest human flag

Bangladesh makes world’s biggest human flag

I had the privilege last year on December 16, 2013, Bangladesh’s Victory Day to attend the Dhaka’s National Parade ground, where 27,117 Bangladeshi students and armed forces held up red and green placards to create the World’s largest human flag. The flag is the Bangladeshi national symbol which was hoisted up during their claim to independence from Pakistan on December 16, 1971, after a nine-month war that left over 300,000 women raped and  3 million people dead, at the hand of the Pakistani Armed Forces and collaborators (rajakars).

Many people criticized the government for organizing the attempt at the record. At the time the elections were a month away as the incumbent party, the Awami League, decided to go forward with the elections despite the opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, boycotting the elections out of protest for the removal of a caretaker government, which had been utilized in previous elections to keep them fair. As a result of the large disagreement between the parties, there was constant violence and instability throughout the country.

There is always a plethora of things going on in Bangladesh. The main current events are still the fight between AL and BNP, unregulated garment sector, the controversial International Crimes Tribunal for the war criminals during the 1971 Liberation war, crimes against ethnic and religious minorities, overall corruption of government and bureaucracy, Islamic fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, gang-rape, the list goes on.

There a lot of problems in the country which I aim to address in the future, but when I was living in Dhaka, I also reconnected with my roots, my culture, and my father’s tongue. I saw the beauty in the country that my family spoke about. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, the struggle is real, but Bangladeshis are some on the nicest people in the world. I was excited as every individual that participated in the record breaking attempt, because I too have pride for my Bangladeshi ancestry, and any triumph is a triumph. We gotta celebrate every victory, so enjoy the video, it was thrown together quick, but if you weren’t there I hope it gives a little glimpse into what 30,000 Bangladeshis look like.




Ramadan the Great Act (Arabization)

Practicing religion for others – that is the problem with Muslims today. If in Islam the actions of an individual are measured by their intentions and following the 5 pillars.  Then why is there such a compulsion to be Arab like?

Even converts in the United States adopt clothing, mannerisms, and even speak like Arabs when they accept the religion. This practice extends from the Arabization of regions during the introduction of Islam by Arabs.

Some argue that the Hadith prescribes their practices, which are recorded sayings or actions by Prophet Muhammad. This is where my philosophy comes in. As authentic as we can believe the Quran is the Hadith is merely a complimentary text. It is not a substitute for the revelation by God. Especially, since Hadiths face the same criticism that Muslims make towards the Bible, which they say has some inaccuracies and is written by man.

Today, many people have adopted more than just Islamic practices. They include Arab and/or the tribal culture of Islam. These are customs and traditions that the Quran does not prescribe. The debate can go on and on about what is true to scripture and what is really just the mimicking of Arab counterparts.

I observed this firsthand on the eve of Ramadan in Dhaka. Everyone became holier than thou.  Men flocked to the streets with their thawbs (Arab dress for men) and tupis (white caps). The use of or words like “inshallah”, “mashallah”, and my favorite “astaghfirullah”, were overused as their tusbeehs (prayer beads) hung from necks, wrists, and dangled from pockets. 

I thought the Hefazat (Islamist group) were holding another hartal. But when I saw several women in hijab and burqas I realized that there was something different floating in the air.

Bangladesh is an Islamic country. More than 85% of its population is Muslim. But people use the Arab ornamentation as a way of peacocking their beliefs.

It is that time of year to find forgiveness for your wrong doings after all. Yet, while wearing the Arab attire, the cheating, lying, and backbiting still continues. The inflation in Dhaka is painful during Ramadan, even for the basic necessities.

Since Islam was founded in Saudi Arabia, Arabs claim to hold the true essence of the religion. Non-Arabs are conditioned to believe that the Arab way is the Muslim way. It is a phenomenon known as founderism. Instead of pursuing to be fit Muslims they strive to become Arab. Here in Bangladesh, my fellow brown brothers and sisters see their Bengali identity as inferior and conform to be more Arab like.

Now I was raised Muslim and I understand the significance of some of the practices. But, when does it cross the line of fulfilling religious obligation into convincing everyone around that you are authentically practicing the faith?

It is a paradox. Everyone competes to prove his or her authenticity, but not to impress. Rather it is a fear of being disqualified as a true Muslim.

Flaunting faith becomes more important than practicing it. Instead of faith being personal it has been made into an act of public display.

Much can be learned from the religious minority in Bangladesh.

A Hindu cannot flaunt their faith publicly as they will be ostracized. Their faith remains inside of them, in their homes, with their families; that is a different type of conviction.

For a religion that is supposed to be universal, Arabization has diluted its true value.

Whether for just the month of Ramadan or the whole year, many non-Arab Muslims will dress like Arabs to give them the identity of a true Muslim.

Maybe you will wear your Muslim on your sleeve and you might think you will receive respect, but by doing that it becomes less personal, the sanctity dies, it belonging to you dies, and it is commodified.