My first blasphemy


It wasn’t a very large room but it was airy. Flower patterned walls with too many holes- or maybe those were not walls but just huge windows- from floor to the roof. The ten year old me was standing in the shrine of Daata Ganj Bakhsh. It was my first visit and has been the last so far. I had heard my parents talking about taking us kids there as we were visiting a family in Lahore. I had imagined it to be somewhat huge- something straight out of the stories of Alif Laila. You can imagine my disappointment at finding that after passing through frighteningly dense crowds outside, it was afterall just a grave. The grave however, was a big one. Whoever was inside must be fairly tall. There were many heavy looking shawls on it and many more were still being laid on. Strangely the shawls were mostly either green or black in color.

Only pious men have shrines. If the pious men are awake in their graves- as has often been told to me, then I wondered how burdened and suffocated Daata Ganj Bakhsh must be inside his grave- under the continuous weight of embroidered velvet.

I was busy looking around at the walls and windows, lots of people coming in and going out but very few were talking. Most of them were silently praying and they all would come to the grave and bow on its marble edges.  I nudged my mother and asked her why were people bowing on a dead man’s grave? Don’t they know that we only bow before Allah? Or are they not Muslims like us? She shushed me with a look of warning and then almost whispered that they are all Muslims, like us and they are only paying their respects. She asked me if I had any special prayer. I told her I had many but if we pray to Allah and believe that He is everywhere then why do people come here for their ‘special prayers’?  I can’t recall what my mother said to me or maybe she didn’t hear me.

My mother had once told me that she had come here before and prayed for a daughter, and so I was born. There might be some truth to the greatness of this saint which I did not and still do not fully understand. So I decided to keep my vanity and ignorance in check and pay my respects.

I went near the grave and put my stretched hand on the marble edge- wondering that if he were alive, this would have been my handshake with him. I prayed to Allah to give this man most generous rewards in heavens and then went on about my petty issues and selfish wishes. I wasn’t finished when someone behind me- a woman perhaps, put her hand on the back of my head and made me bow. She released me few seconds after my forehead had touched the grave.

I let myself do something I absolutely did not approve of and I did nothing to resist it because a forceful hand, much bigger than mine had grabbed my head.

not so sure…

  Winds blowing, bees buzzing, flowers blossoming and birds singing. It’s all in beautiful tales. Tales that are nothing more than crafts of mere human imagination which never existed. I’m a traveler of a hollow path. I do not complain of thorns but its the roses I never see. I believed that’s what it was all about. To eat, sleep, work and finding distractions to pass the rest of my time was all there was to do. So I did that and kept doing it. 

 On my way, I found people who believed otherwise. I appreciated the difference but agreed to disagree. Eventually, I saw them all on the road I was following. I never took pleasure in the fact that I was right all along. But, that’s how it was and denial was not worth it.

 Then I saw it. From the other end of the spectrum, I saw a knight in his shining armor. Battling for the dreams he had. Never seen a more foolish creature. It did not take much time for his dreams to shatter. I see him too now taking on the road of suspicion and disbelief. However, this time it’s different for me. Different, because seeing him makes me realize that a moment in a fool’s paradise is nonetheless a moment in a paradise. Living in that moment is worth living. It must be. 

  I’m not much sure of what I’m talking about. This realization that there is more to life than what I had been thinking is supposed to be sweet. But, its same as believing in life after watching someone die. That ain’t very sweet.

I definitely have no idea what I’m talking about.


a question of faith

   I have come across this notion countless times, notion of blind faith. Faith itself is a belief that does not rest on logic or any material evidence so technically, it has to be blind. I must confess that I am a slave of reason. Reason that comes within the limited area of one’s knowledge and mine is too little. Given that, I could easily have developed faith in a lot of things, but I cannot. As a child, I had always wondered why am I not a Hindu, or a Christian or even atheist for that matter? I asked one of my teachers about it and she politely, yet with an element of warning told me not to question on faith. In different words, but that’s just what everybody told me, whom I had ever asked. I then realized that its actually a taboo in our society.

   But who could have repressed the inner turmoil? I am Muslim because I have been born to Muslim parents, but that for sure is not a reason enough. And then again, the talk of blind faith. If being a good follower of my religion makes me more righteous and if that requires blind faith, then how different am I from those who practice other religions with the same intensity of regard and again with their blind faiths? All religious preachers too in general discourage the questioning on faith. If the whole thing is so blind, are we all not lost a bit?

  Its not difficult to understand why I am what I am. But, it takes guts and a lot of self exploration to understand why I am not what I am not. I discarded the idea of blind faith as it led me no where. God would not have made me ‘the best of His creations’ by giving me brains and the ability to reason if it were such a useless thing.

  So I started questioning my inherited beliefs and also started exploring a little about other religions and atheism too. I would rather not go into the details of where I stand now and how I have come to be here, but it certainly has given me a lot more satisfaction. The idea that things could be reasoned and understood – a little if not completely – is actually a much better feeling than any blind faith giving me nothing but blind prayers.

   The simple question that ‘we are what we are, but why are we not what we are not, when we could be?’ has groomed my thoughts and approach towards life on many aspects other than religion. To be concise, it has opened on me the doors of countless possibilities.

   What is good for one is not necessarily the same for another. The way of questioning and reasoning worked for me but I must not say that it should be followed by any other. But then, how can you know, unless you try it?