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Committee 39: So much for superstition!

KABUL (PAN): Some university professors and spiritual leaders say dissolution of the traditional Loya Jirga's committee No 39 to avoid pimp taunts raises questions about the merits of delegates' recommendations.

Since the digit 39 is generally associated with pimps, most Afghans avoid accepting a mobile number, car number plate and other numbers containing the digit.

Committee No 39 had to be replaced after some of its members said the digit was a euphemism for pimps in the local parlance. As a result, members asked jirga organisers to omit assigning the number to their committee.

Members of the body chose to stay away from a scheduled meeting to avoid being branded as pimps. Heads and representatives of the working committees presented their recommendations to the Loya Jirga. But Committee No 39 had to be assigned another number.

Commenting on the issue, Lecturer in Sociology at Kabul University Faisal Amin told Pajhwok Afghan News the superstition reflected the participants' lack of knowledge and awareness. "The people of Afghanistan did not expect this of a jirga on an issue of national importance."

A lecturer of economy, Taj Muhammad Akbar, said such superstitions could harm society. "If this sorry state of affairs persists, the people who have the number 39 in their official documents will not be able to move around the city for fear of being branded as pimps. They may be forced to sell their vehicles at dirt-cheap prices; it will deal them an economic blow."

Head of Philosophical Mathematics Research Centre in Kabul, Mohammad Siddique Afghan, said the number had no religious aspect and clinging to such myths was harmful to society. He wondered why participants of the jirga lent legitimacy to the superstitions.

If there was anything bad about the number, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) would not have been sent to us as the messenger of Allah after the age of 39, he added. "If we look at the last solar decade (1390s), we can see 39 in 10 consecutive years".

The Abjad numeral 39 means "condition", he said, adding if there was anything bad about it, the Holy Quran would not have a chapter and verses having the same number.

Such false notions represented a culture of ignorance, believed Mohammad Ayaz Niazai, a lecturer in Shariah at the Kabul University and a prayer leader at the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque.

Noor Television presenter Haris Jamalzada urged youth to replace their Facebook photos with the number 39 to remove the superstition. An overwhelming number of Afghans embraced the call.

Loya Jirga spokeswoman Safia Siddiqui had told a news conference that committee No 41 had to be set up in line with members' suggestions. She considered the controversy as useless, asking journalists not to highlight it.

The number was denounced as a pimp taunt in recent years in the western province of Herat and people became sensitive about the number in their day-to-day life.

myn/mas/mud

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Nov 21, 2011
Words:503
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