On Breaking the Shackles of Religious Perceptions

It’s always contentious to be talking about religion or religious affairs, especially when one has no knowledgeable background whatsoever about any such institutions. My parents told me and hence I came to believe in the fact that I am a Hindu. But it never really mattered to me, for my ways of thinking and upbringing never were like those which were projected in terms of Hindu orthodoxy in the society by and large. When I was tiny, my parents would take me to temples and across the street, I could see a little child just like me, but in a different attire, one which was acceptable to his brethren, taken into the Mosque to offer his prayers. I used to carry this unquenchable curiosity about why could he not come here and I not go there instead? If there is but one energy that governs all the processes of this limitless Universe, then why does he pray in a Mosque and me in a Temple? But then I was too immature to understand anything and as I grew up, no books I read could answer this question. In India, there has been a deeply ingrained culture of saints and mystics, and one such Hindu monk, the revered Swami Vivekananda had said,

“Experience is the only teacher we have. We may talk and reason all our
lives, but we shall not understand a word of truth until we experience it
ourselves.” 

And though I didn’t get an answer for my question, I did gain such an experience today on this auspicious day of Eid-Ul-Fitr. We decided today to go out of our way and meet our Muslim brethren after their visit at the Dargah and give them a small card giving them a small message, some dried fruit and a flower. The card looked something like this :

WhatsApp Image 2017-06-26 at 11.53.47 AM

A brief translation of the same in English would be :

Jihad, Jihad, Jihad…..

Humanity” is in danger 

Our hearts have been captured by the evils of dishonesty, bribery and greed. From this very day onwards, we have to wage a war against these evils. Only with love and affection – with eyes wide open – this Jihad-e-Akbar will go on, day and night, till all of these evils get eradicated from our heart, perhaps even for a lifetime. Even Allah himself is by your side. This Jihad-e-Akbar happens through the hearts.

Love and Brotherhood can achieve everything. No religion provokes enmity amongst other religions. Allah Hafiz. May you forever keep sprinkling such love.

 

We stood outside the entrance of the Dargah, waiting for our brothers to leave the Dargah. As they started leaving, we went up to them and gave them our wishes for the day. If I were to say what I initially thought and felt about going there to  wish them, I did feel a bit awkward. This was understandable because in my entire lifetime, I had never gone to the Mosque and stood there to give heartfelt wishes to the people. The first person I met took the card, saw it, shook my hand and gave me a bright smile. And soon as they started coming out and we gave them the cards, it was an occasion of smiles lighting up all around us. We got myriad reactions about it, from a police officer on work scoffing and asking “Why do all this?” to people who doubled their pace of walking seeing us approaching, thinking we were some of those money hungry salesmen selling something to them.

But in totality, every person we met was more than pleased to wish us back in their customary embrace. We had given such cards to about 200 people and also to some Muslim commuters passing us by. And when finally the last card had been given away and wishes given, I stood there churning up what I had experienced in the 20 min I was there. I felt that deep down, we all were the same. The attire was just a layer on the outside, but the essence of humanity was the same on the inside. Just as this thought passed my mind, an aged old man whom we had given the card to earlier came rushing back, held my hand and gave a blessing for the noble work he believed we were doing.

These chain of events seemed to stir something inside me. I felt a drastic shift in my perceptions. I realized that the religions and festivals that we have around us, in India or elsewhere, were not so much about creating a divide amongst us humans and allowing a community to enjoy, but to unite us with the belief that we are eventually the same and even though our paths may be different our destinations are well the same – to uphold and achieve the highest ideals of humanity. So I would urge everyone, on today’s day to go out of their way and wish someone Eid Mubarak, and see the magic happen for yourself.

And for all my Muslim brethren who read this post, a happy Eid-ul-Fitr to you and your family. May Allah fill your lives with all the peace and prosperity of this world!  

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