I wrote this article to be submitted for Hala Febriar... a February festival we have here in kuwait that includes (Gasp
) discount shopping and (Horror
) concerts!! I tried to get it published but apparently free speech is a lost concept in Kuwait....
"Hala Febriar" or The February Festival came a'knocking this year the way it does every year and instead of rejoicing in the month of our liberation and independence, fundamentalist would rather we sit at home in quiet contemplation. Contemplation of what? I have no idea. As if we don't spend enough of our time worrying about the decrepit state of the world we share. But no! That's not enough for these religious zealots. They want us to spend all of our time like that. What brought this attack of mine on... You ask? Well seeing as how our one (!) month of jubilation is upon us, the fundamentalist (conservatism is much too kind a word for them…) are out in droves, fangs baring, mouths foaming, writing article after article condemning our celebrations and concerts. Apparently attending a concert will send you on the fast track to hell or something. I mean, honestly, do these men really have so little to do that they feel the need to lash out against harmless fun? Don't they realize that crime levels are soaring, drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise, the public school system is a disaster and the traffic in Kuwait is a blood-thirsty monster feeding on the souls of our youths? Personally, I feel that these are much more worthy causes for the politicians of our small gulf country to focus on. Instead, they choose to ignore these issues, bury conflicts and sweep problems under the rug, all the while filling up our newspapers with religious-fodder about a few concerts.
As far as I see it, to each his own. Religion is a personal matter. It's between a person and God, not the whole society and God. If a person feels that going to a concert is 'haram', then that person will choose not to go. The operative word here is 'choose'. That's the difference between humans and all of Gods' other creations. It's that we have brains; we have the power of free-will. And in the end, everybody will be responsible and held accountable for his or her own actions. It's not for you or me or anyone to say what's 'haram' and 'halal'. That's for each person to figure out on his/her own and to act accordingly. There's a saying in Arabic which, roughly, translates to "Everybody is free to do as they please, so long as their actions do not trespass on the freedoms of others." Nobody is going to be forced to go to a party or dragged kicking and screaming into a concert. If 4000 people decide to go see Nancy Ajram over Eid then that does not trespass on my choice not to go.
Another aspect of this matter that really gets to me is the fact that these 'politicians' and so-called 'leaders' are supposed to be exerting themselves for the good of the country. The good of a country is directly attributed to the health of the economy. 'Hala Febriar' is or could be a gulf-wide phenomenon, with shopping malls, banks and consumers all pushing money into the economy. 'Hala Febriar' is also an excellent way to boost tourism, with people driving in from as far as The Emirates to participate in the festivities. More cars in the country equal more revenue for the gas companies. More foreigners in the country translate to higher revenues for the hotels. More people in the shopping centers equal more income for the companies holding the franchises. More concerts mean more revenue for the holding venues. The list of advantages goes on and on. All of these forces, when combined, work to boost the rate of economic growth in the country. And let's be honest, there's nothing to protest there. In fact, the government officials should do everything in their power to encourage these festivals as well as anything and everything that could possibly boost the touristy appeal of our small, yet blessed nation. And if its morals and societal traditions or the loss of them that worries these people so much, well then they should just cut their losses now. Scandalous pictures will continue to be distributed via wireless networks. Illicit rendezvous' will not seize to take place.
The positive revelations, however, arise in the young Kuwaiti women that continue to graduate with high ranks and move on to take power-house positions in investment and financial institutions all around the country; Young men who eventually realize that there is life beyond 'diwaniyas', chalets and Playstation; These young men who have already begun to demand more active and productive roles in the society.
Societies must be able to mold and change to suit new information. Nothing our grandparents knew in the fifties could possibly help us survive in today's society. The very best that a person can do is have faith in the way they raise their children, the way they treat their fellow man and the way they worship their god. If these foundations are set correctly, it's all smooth sailing from then on. I'm not saying there won't be 'bad seeds'; these exist simply because they have to. There is no Utopian society and mistakes will be made. The trick is to learn from them, to not repeat them. The solution, however, is not to cling to obsolete ideals and speak with religious fervor.
I have faith that Kuwait will move towards a more modernized future without sacrificing ideals. The citizens will force this change. The political and economical rebalance of the world will demand it. It's up to us, the youth of Kuwait, to show the people that everything is not black and white and that most, and I repeat most, of the citizens' fall into comforting shades of gray. Take me, for example, I don't wear a scarf on my head or refuse to converse with men; I can recite every lyric of any Aerosmith song and can even see the silver lining in the dark cloud that is Bluetooth. I am the anti-thesis of the Kuwaiti female and you know what? I'm also a damn proud Muslim.