A few days back, I was walking down the street with one of my friends. Suddenly, a 9-year-old boy yelled at me, saying, “You are a Muslim which is why you are not allowed here”. The boy who said this happened to be the younger brother of the friend I was walking with. I was stunned.
I really find it difficult to react or even say a word in my defence when people say this kind of thing. There was a time when I was a devout Muslim and even used to visit the mosque every Friday to offer my prayers. But slowly, I started realising there is nothing called God, and dividing people, on the basis of religion, is a bogus idea introduced by those who never want to see people together and united. It is better to believe in humanity.
I started leaning towards the ideology of atheism. And for the past five years, I have been leading my life without believing in any imaginary entity like God. But, people often judge me on the basis of my name, which, needless to mention, still sounds like a Muslim.
My friend’s younger brother also fails to differentiate between my name and the ideology I believe in. I am pretty sure that he hardly has any clear idea of who is a Hindu and who is a Muslim, let alone having a clear perception of an atheist person. He is not the one to be blamed, for sure. He is just a kid and copying things he is witnessing and experiencing around himself. This is a small instance, of how the venomous propaganda, solely created by the communal elements, comes to create more and more differences, along the communal lines.
The poisonous environment around him might have encouraged him to be a communal person. This is a matter of serious concern. A 9-year-old boy is judging others on the basis of religion. This is one of the many reasons, as to why I would teach my next generation, not to be either a Hindu or a Muslim. Identifying oneself with the identity of a human being is a far better option.
But, this is not the first time I have been judged on the basis of my name. When I was in the 11th standard, my tutor accused me of supporting Pakistan in a cricket match held between India and Pakistan. His argument was that since I am a Muslim, I am supposed to lend my support to Pakistan. I told him that if you want to consider it from my personal viewpoint, then the answer is that India is my birthplace, and it is my utmost responsibility to support my nation under any circumstances.
In another incident, it so happened, that I was arguing with one of my Muslim friends over the practising of my atheism. He suddenly asked me to change my name since it “still carried a Muslim identity”. I smiled and replied that “My dear friend, as I was born to Muslim parents, it is natural that my name would carry a Muslim identity. I cannot do anything with this. It does not matter whether I have a Muslim name or something else. What matters most to me is that I don’t believe in any imaginary entity and believe in the concept of humanity, instead”.
This is how I am always judged on the basis of my name. Sometimes, I have been harassed. It really hurts when I see that people can never think beyond my name. At the end of the day, I am always “Masidur Rahaman” to them.
*The feature image is for representational purposes only*