I have been forwarded these pictures of a famous religious poet [naat khawan] Owais Raza Qadri [official website] which I am told were taken last year when the poet received the Govt of Pakistan award for the Best Naat Khawan of 2007, and the consequent celebration was telecasted live on QTV [Quran TV].
Muhammad Owais Raza Qadri, 38 year old young man has achieved much and is a highly celebrated Naat Khawan with many TV appearances in various channels across Pakistan and to add to his fame he also has quite a large number of much sought after naat audio albums to his name
These are two images, both showing him sitting on a weighing scale while he is being weighed in gold, in certain sects of Islam this actually signifies a mark of respect for a Naat Khawan who has sung many naats in praise of Muhammad (PBUH), mind you this gold is not for any personal benefit but is actually going towards Zakat charity alone [I am told].
His wikipedia entry shares some insight on this highly acclaimed religious scholar
Alhaj Muhammad Owais Raza Qadri, born on 8th. July 1970 in Karachi, Pakistan]. He is Intermediate in academic qualifications. He has performed several Hajj and Umras, the first Umra being in 1992 while the first Hajj in 1996. His favorite personality is Alahazrat, Mujaddid-e-Din-o-Millat Imam Shah Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi. He started reciting naats at the age of 8. He was inspired by AlHaaj Yousuf Ashrafi (late) who was his ideal Naat Khawan. He did not take special naat classes but acquired the companionship of good, pious “Ushaqaan-e-Rasool“. Reciting the Naat of Imam-e-Ahle-sunnat, Alahazrat Shah Ahmed Raza Khan Sahib Barelvi is liked by Owais Raza Qadri. His first album was released in 1983 and after that numerous albums have been released.
I actually choose to question the reasoning behind this elaborate ceremony, our so called preachers of Islam I fear will in effect set a bad precedence for future generation of muslims, transforming the religion from a simple faith based religion into a tradition filled bidat prone Islam far different from the one conceived by our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) some 1400 years back.
This is naturally my own personal opinion and I do not mean to disgrace any religious leader as I am open to discussion below on what is right or wrong as I truly feel that herein lies one answer to the reckless religion problem prevalent in Pakistan. Literally with so many flavors of Islam being preached on the streets of Pakistan we have definitely lost our purity and have in turn opened the door to a pandoras box of Islamic beliefs, ranging from the pure simplicity concept towards the overtly complicated ritual based Islam and intermingled somewhere in between we have the suicide motivator mullah preaching the students to use the bomb vest as an immediate pathway to heaven. Is this what Islam was truly meant for? Is this what was preached to us 1400 years back? that said I am sure it was surely NOT this ritualistic gold weighing ceremony of Maulan Owais Raza Qadri conducted on live TV. Is this what we want our future generations to believe in. I know that I am most definitely stepping into hot territory but feel its high time we stepped up to answer this question.