2016 is a year that seems to have more loss than gain. So many things happened and the world seems to be changing at an alarming rate every day, always for the worst. Whenever I think maybe- just maybe, the year will have something happy to close it off- something bad happens, whether it was a city under siege, or it was an ambassador getting shot. I personally feel like these negative events made me more receptive to the positive events as well, few as they were.
But today is not for the positives. Today is for all the people I will always associate 2016 with, not because they were tragic headlines and news stories, but because 2016 was the last year that they had to give something to the world. And give, they did.
(January 17, 1942 to June 3, 2016)
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
I’m not from the generation that regarded Muhammad Ali as a hero. That generation was my father’s, back when young boys would listen to the radio in fascination about how a black Muslim boxer beat a white Christian opponent in the ring in still racist America. Muhammad Ali had been the champion of the Muslim world with all the social odds stacked against him and he emerged victorious and people loved him.
For me, Muhammad Ali was always associated with Malcolm X. For me, he was a side character, a relic of what was left of Malcolm X, because all I learned about Muhammad Ali, I learned from The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley. An amazing book, by the way. I’ve read it several times over and I can’t shake off the feeling that I somehow knew Malcolm X, like he is somehow my friend. Which is a bizarre feeling, but there it is. That’s how good that autobiography is.
When Muhammad Ali’s demise came around, everyone felt it. There seemed to be a palpable depression in the air, as the legend of an entire generation’s childhood breathed no more.
I learned more about Muhammad Ali after he died. I learned what he did, what he said, what he believed in and I realized that we really did lose an iconic human being this year.
Abdus Sattar Eidhi
(January 1, 1928 to July 8, 2016)
“So, many years later there were many who still complained and questioned, ‘Why must you pick up Christians and Hindus in your ambulance?’ And I was saying, ‘Because the ambulance is more Muslim than you’.”
Abdus Sattar Eidhi was a humanitarian and a philanthropist who did Pakistan a great service. Whenever you see an ambulance on the streets, there is a 90% chance it’s Eidhi’s. He had been quite sick, but had refused to leave the country for medical help. There had also been one or two incidents on social media where people visited Eidhi and took ‘selfies’ with him which prompted a LOT of backlash as people did not like how Eidhi was being treated (despite claims of Eidhi being okay with pictures).
Anyway, I personally feel like Eidhi was a great person. He may have said some controversial things in an effort to get his point across, but considering where he came from and what he’s done and how much of a service he has given to his nation, he truly is a hero.
(September 3, 1964 – December 7, 2016)
Junaid Jamshed has always been part of Pakistan with his ever famous “Dil Dil Pakistan”.
Once again, I just wasn’t that crowd.
I was never interested in Junaid Jamshed. He wasn’t my childhood. My childhood was Dawud Wharnsby, Sami Yusuf and Yusuf Islam. When I came to Pakistan, I was stubborn and I refused to get into what people listened to, preferring to stick with the little bits and pieces of America that I tried to drag back with me to Pakistan.
My cousins though. When I moved to Islamabad, my cousins were my first interaction in regards to Junaid Jamshed. It had been a 14th August and everyone was pumped, having dragged speakers outside and hooked up national anthems, but always playing Junaid Jamshed on repeat.
On their insistence, I brought home a USB filled with his works. In this environment, my mother also began playing his audios through YouTube. My brother loved singing with him.
I think there was still some stubbornness in me, still carried over from America, that did not let me like Junaid Jamshed. I remember when Ali Haider took the same path, switching from pop songs to nasheeds, and I secretly hoped he would replace Junaid Jamshed, or at least become an alternative to him. To say I was disappointed, is the truth.
Nevertheless, I was much more attached to this figure than the first two I’ve mentioned because Junaid Jamshed was a constant entity in my house through his nasheeds. When I found out about his unfortunate airplane crash, the point hit home the next day, when it was clear that things weren’t a joke. This man was gone.
Of course, he’s said some controversial things, but you can’t deny that he too, has been the face of Pakistan. My mother, when his funeral prayers were being broadcast, kept saying again and again “do you think Junaid Jamshed ever dreamed of his funeral to be like this? Did he ever dream of being given so much respect after his death?” (and of course, being the desi mom she is, she’d start lecturing us like “this is how you should die! affecting as many people as possible who will pray for your maghfirat!” and I’m like uhhhhh ok mom I’m not a pop singer but I’ll see what I can do with my blog).
After he died, lots and lots of people wrote things about him on Facebook, his family came on tv to give interviews, and I realized how much of an affect he really did have on people around him. You can say he wasn’t perfect, but you have to admit, he did give everyone something to be proud of. He was a national icon. He will definitely be missed.
These were only a few of the many famous people who’ve died in 2016. Some honorable mentions include Alan Rickman (Professor Snape of Harry Potter), Fidel Castro (that guy we read about in the world history chapters and I forget what he did), Harper Lee (author of To Kill A Mockingbird), and David Bowie (that guy who was in the Labyrinth movie with all those puppets).
What people will you remember in association with 2016? Have a nice day!