Some time back, I’d read a wonderful post on OM’s blog about her daughter’s love for Krishna. The little girl loves her idol of Krishna and even lines up her barbies as his devotees 😀 . It was a very cute post and I confess I felt a bit teary towards the end. A child’s love is so pure!! Do check out that post.
Reading the blog, I was reminded of an innocent question a colleague asked me at lunch one day. We were talking about goodnight prayers and I was narrating the twin’s prayers to Allah to keep their Big-Dadi (The BF’s grandmother) trouble free in heaven. I also mentioned that whenever the kids get hurt or fall ill, I ask them to ask Allah for relief. They do this without question. At this, the friend quipped, “Do your kids understand the concept of God?”
I was a trifle startled at this question but realized that the answer was Yes, indeed they did. They did believe in a God up there. I’m not really sure when exactly they started believing, but the truth is that they understand the concept of God, of a power much higher and greater than us, a power that is invisible, no form, no image, without representation.
I realized early in life that being a Muslim was purely about believing in Allah. That there was a power up there which wrote our destinies, who gave us a choice in everything we did and decided our fate based on the choices we make. As a kid, we didn’t realize the depth of believing in that power with our eyes closed, with no visual aids, no images, no pictures, no idols. How exactly could we believe in something that we knew nothing about? I personally believe that most muslims don’t become muslims by birth. We become muslims the day we realize that the power exists, that our prayers do get answered (and I’m not talking about the wishes for extra helpings of ice-cream or a lifetime supply of chocolates 🙂 )
We become muslims the day we understand that there is someone out there looking out for us. That one day, we have to go back and meet our maker and on that day we will have to answer for all the good or bad that we did in our lifetime. I’m sure my children aren’t there yet. The only thing I’ve instructed them to do is to believe in their hearts that even when it appears that no one is watching over them, there is someone up there who is doing so. For now, they do understand that Allah is watching over them, so they have to be good 🙂 .
The kid’s day-care lady is a Jain. She adores the twins and sometimes, she takes them along to her Society’s Mandir for a puja. I don’t mind it. The kids enjoy the visits and tell me in the evening that they went to see ‘Bhagwan’. Its only when I accidentally kick a book which is lying on the floor and a kid says, “Mummy, say sorry to the book. Issmein Bhagwan hai“, that I feel the need to correct them. I know that there are other religions that equate many things with God. Islam doesn’t. For us, the Lord above is too mighty and too sacred to be compared or even represented by anything on this mortal planet. This is just our belief and not meant to offend anyone else’s sensibilities. But yes, a book is a book, it helps one get education, so respecting it is fine. Keeping them in its place, is what I teach them to do. But I draw the line when they start referring to it as God.
Being a muslim is not easy. Specially when it comes to teaching the kids about Allah. We have no aids, only books written in a foreign language that the children will understand only much later. Till then, they are on their own. I can just let them know what I’m doing, I cannot make them do what I do. I can teach them prayers, but the only ones which are answered are the ones which are offered from the heart. They may not offer namaz, but whenever one gets hurt, the other quickly asks Allah to heal the hurt. Though this is not a formal prayer, it is true in its expression and I’m sure Allah understands 🙂 .
I send my daughter to school with a headscarf. She is free to remove it if she wants. This is just my way of introducing her to the beauty of this most misunderstood concept of Islam. As she grows older, she will make her own choices, but till then, I do my bit and introduce her to it. Alhamdulillah, she has taken quite a fancy to it, though she does remove it after school and goes to the day-care. One day, in office, as I was showing the snaps of my kids in their uniform to my colleagues, one was offended to see Lui with a headscarf.
“Why is she wearing a scarf?” she asked me.
“Because I like her to”, I replied.
“Doesn’t the school object?” she asked further.
“No. They don’t object”, I replied.
“But why not?” she asked vehemently, ” They should ban it . It is against National Integration”.
At this point, I was too stumped and stupefied to reply.
Our country’s National Integration was at the mercy of my daughter’s headscarf! That was quite a burden she was carrying on her head, I say!!!
Over the years, I’ve met many people who have zero knowledge about Islam but consider themselves an authority on anything Islamic. Like, for instance, believing that the huge population of muslims in India exists only because the Mughals forcefully converted the Hindus. By that logic, the Christian population should be almost neck-to-neck with the muslims, right?
Anyhow, that is an argument for a different time. For now, as I see my kids grow older and learn new things, I need to show them that there is lot of beauty around them. That though some people may doubt their loyalties (Heck! My Dad served in the Indian Army and yet there were certain people who made snide remarks about his loyalty. Imagine! A man who gets war medals for his country, was looked upon with suspicion. What chances do my kids have? ), there will be others who will give their undying love and friendship. That there will be hurdles in their lives, surprisingly the kind which never appear for their friends, but for them alone, but still, the One above will sail them over it.
Faith is all about believing. I believe that though there is a lot of hatred in this world, my children will find their share of love and kindness, of friendships and happiness. Of loyalty and togetherness. Not just with each other but with most of the people they come across in their life.
I pray that my children will not be stigmatized as adults, if they chose to wear a headscarf or a cap. That no one will question their loyalty towards their country. That they will be accepted for who they are and how they chose to live. InshaAllah, those days will come.
Because Allah is watching over them 🙂 .
Note : The contents of this post are my opinions alone. I apologize if any sentiments are hurt and want to assure everyone that such was not my intention.
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