My search for a spiritual meaning of life started at 7 years of age,when I was introduced into Quran by my ustad at the local madrasa where all children of the neighborhood muslim families are compulsorily enrolled.Apart from the jolly walk with a bunch of buddies and the light play time at theMadrasa,I found no charm in by hearting the verses of the quaran without knowing the meaning of a single word.
Our ustad,a very old sweet man used to feed us with interesting fables of the prophets which I loved.But he also fed us with stories of fear and terror about life after death and sin and good which I could never ever assimilate.
During one such session,he taught us the meaning of kafir,which is anybody outside Islam and you are not even allowed to touch one of your non Muslim friends once you do the ablutions for the customary namas five times a day.This came as a big shock because in the community I was living at that time,almost 90 percent of our neighbors were non Muslims and we all lived like one big family.We children used to sleep over in different houses during the weekend and was having the most beautiful time of our lives.Our parents were like one big bunch of siblings having each one for the other in every crisis.
And how come this ustad says that they are untouchable before namas? !!! Immediately after the class I ran to my father,Dr.Mammootty who is my eternal hero and asked him ..Uppappa…that’s what I call him..Our ustad says that I can’t touch my non Muslim friends after ablution and my namas becomes nullified if I do so.Is it right?Ustad says we will go to hell if we do so.Infact all kafirs,the non Muslims are bound to hell. He just confronted me with another question.”My dear…In that case,where would you place Mother Teresa,a Christian by birth but dedicated all her life for the poor and down trodden? Where would you place Mahatma Gandhi a Hindu by faith and dedicated his life to our nation? In hell? No my dear daughter,heaven and hell are decided by Allah based on your karma and not by the religion of your birth.And the meaning of Islam is bowing to the will of God whereas the meaning of Kafir is anybody who goes astray from his path..It doesn’t have any religious overtone.They are just Arabic words,so happened to be in Qur’an.And every scripture of every religion is the same.So my dearest,tell your Ustad to go to hell and embrace your friends as you are always doing.There is only one religion.that is the religion of love and humanity.But there are spiritual rituals which has been proposed by different scriptures across the centuries which were designed to discipline the haphazard ways of human nature .
The notion of right and wrong and reward and punishment are said in every scripture in the world for an organised disciplined society norm and nothing else.
He even read out an ayat from the Qur’an in English,saying that a true Christian is a true Muslim and vice versa which meant that all you have to do is follow the will of the Universe and you are it’s child no matter whatever religion you are born into .
And the bhagavad Gita verse Yatha Yatha hi dharmasya …which meant I appear whenever dharma is lost to retrieve it.
My goodness…To my seven year old little mind,Uppappas insights were everything I needed to base my philosophy of life upon.
And I am so proud to be his daughter who guided me through every silly or serious question about life with such profound confrontations and insights.
Thought he left us for the heavenly abode two years back, he lives on and on and on in every cell of my existence.
My Uppappa…the epitome of knowledge,innocence and liberation in its truest sense.
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