This particular weekend has been designed to last four days, because Ashura has come around to come after Quaid Day. So not only was the Friday off, but so is today (Monday). That meant that the weekend was suddenly going from just the Saturday and Sunday (for those whose offices and childrens schools allowed), to include Friday and Monday. And though both Quaid-e-Azam Day and Ashura are opposite occasions, one of celebration and the other of mourning, you can bet that those who are most enthusiastic about the weekend are those who will neither celebrate nor mourn, but will catch up on their sleep. Those who mourn the Imam do not really need an extra day to do it in, but will use the extra day nonetheless. It is interesting the combination of the two dates, one from the Gregorian calendar, the other from the Hijri. Of course the dates must come close to one another, even if they need not necessarily coincide. In the Hijri calendar, Ashura is decided, and this year it was smooth as previous years, though Mufti Muneeb had to be poisoned for this to happen. The Quaid, or rather his father, chose the Gregorian calendar to give the date of birth of his first-born, who was born on Christmas Day. Funny, but Christmas Day is not only the most important Christian Holiday, but also a very popular date for marriages, which are best celebrated in winters, and being a holiday allows us the sight so characteristic of weddings, which is children running round aimlessly but very purposefully. Of course, weddings tend to disappear during Ashura, and only start again, if the weather permits, after the anniversary of the Imams chehlum, which occurs on the 20th or 21st of Safar (40 days after 10 Muharram). This by the way gives us an indication of the Indian origin of the Ashura commemoration, and in fact, a lot of the traditions of Ashura have their origin in Lucknow, where the King, for 125 years of the dynasty of Saadat Ali Khan, was a Shia, and where the Ashura was marked with even more devotion than Persia, where the other Shia dynasty ruled. The difference was that the Qajars of Persia ruled over a state which was majority Shia, while the Kingdom of Oudh, where Saadat Ali Khans descendants ruled, had a Hindu majority. Yet the Quaid, who had moved from the Ismaili faith of his ancestors to the Isna-Ashari sect, would probably have also known too well the significance of the Ashura commemoration. It was not really an occasion to visit the Village, as a marking of the very temporary victory, but the ultimate defeat, of the men of Kufa. Remember, these men are the real turning point. They are the ones who invited the Imam, who was living quietly in Makkah till the ascension to the Caliphate of Yazid, but who betrayed him when he actually turned up. The men of Kufa rode with Yazids man when he went to execute him, to put down the rebellion. It was ultimately bootless, for Yazid only reigned a total of three years. But while the Bani Umayya continued to reign, and while the Bani Hussain never reigned (except a branch which ruled in Egypt for 160 years or so), ultimate victory was theirs. However, while we are ready enough to acknowledge the rightness of a cause more than 1300 years old, we do not see that today we too have become men of Kufa, and we are busy fighting the War on Terror on behalf of nonbelievers. On the side of the militants are those who will fight those who are busy spreading sectarian hatred, and are busy dividing Pakistan a little further, adding a division within Muslims to those that already exist, like the divisions of ethnicity, or biradari, or what-have-you. Those the Quaid could not overcome, but at least he ended the divisions of caste, still practiced, and with a vengeance, in India, by creating Pakistan, Islam too ends discrimination based on descent, which is all that caste is really about. Another death anniversary that we are observing is the second one of Benazir Bhutto. While the first saw her widower President, her second sees him under attack after the Supreme Courts NRO verdict.