Born as a Muslim, my mark of honor for Islam has always been high and will continue to be. That’s my identity and I doubt where I would have been without it. But being born as a follower of Islam in the land of Hindus is the strength of my identity. Yes, it is my strength and I fear the loss of this strength.
This identity first emerged when I was an infant in the lap of a nurse named Geeta and I believe this was planned for me by my Almighty Allah. Not only did He ensure I was a follower of the Holy Quran but also ensured that I accept the holiness of the Bhagavad Gita. This part of me remained untouched as I grew up in accordance to my secular values as opposed to the extremist’s notion of ‘sickular.’
Educated in a missionary school for nine years of my life, I was better versed in Biblical hymns than my Islamic prayers but that did not change the Islam I followed. I continued my bonding with Islam. I learnt to offer namaz a little late but on my own personal will and with the support of parents. The love I possess for Islam today has come to be naturally, and I bet it would have not been this loyal if it had been forced upon me.
Citing the example above, what I discovered is that I do not need to forsake Islam in order to honour Hinduism. But my initial experiences were different, like when I didn’t fast for a day or two during Ramadan and my weakness over the grip of Urdu and Arabic language would have me labelled, “Arre ye to Hindu hai, isse kya puchna!” (Don’t ask him, he’s as good as a Hindu!)
When I look back, I realise it may have been my Hindu pals who asked me about my culture, my religion, my food who pushed me to be a staunch Muslim – possibly so I could bring biryani for them.
I was mainly motivated to be a Muslim by them. I still remember when I once failed to answer why we celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and I was mocked grievously by my teacher, as if I didn’t know what the answer to 2-1 is!
Personally, I have never felt my non-Muslim surroundings attempt to poison me regarding Islam and if they did, I believed it was my faith that was to be questioned not the community.
My identity is that of a Muslim but I cannot deny that it has been equally shaped as that of a Hindu. Not as a practitioner, but definitely as someone who respects it. While I was born a Muslim, and educated in a Christian organization, the acceptance of Hinduism came to me very easily.
Acceptance in the form of my father’s colleagues’ Holi celebration where I was eager to join. Acceptance in our Eid celebration where my non-Muslim friends came home and added more sweetness in the sewaiya. I can guarantee that both festivals have lesser joy without the other.
To my satisfaction, I have many a time heard many of my non-Muslim friends say “InshaAllah” and “MashaAllah” with full faith. Do they become Muslims by just saying so?
In return, let them be satisfied by me just saying “Jai Shri Ram.” I will remain a Muslim even after saying this. I will not magically transform into a traitor and neither will I serve any political purpose.
All I want to achieve is peace. Peace where my biryani and your mithai merges. Peace where my “Allahu Akbar” and your “Jai Shri Ram” don’t hurt or create fear but are accepted as a token of unity we aim to forge.
Yes, my green can merge with your saffron and create a space where only love is allowed. Let the hate wash away with my wudoo and your snaan. My soul has been transformed into a better human by following beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and I have also become a better version of a follower of Islam in Ram’s land by learning from his life.
Let the blood within me be a follower of Islam and the air I breathe be an honour to Hinduism. Let me move out of my boundaries and bring an end to this hatred and convert it to love.
Huge love to Lord Ram,
From a Muslim follower.
This article was first published here.