By Mohd Sageer.
As I stand below
the green grass valley looking at the distant misty
mountains beyond the pine trees in awe and wonder, a breeze of
tranquility descends upon me. I close my eyes and take a deep
"One of the
most beautiful experiences on Earth" . I ponder.
Then suddenly the
cool air is ripped apart with the siren of azaan (call to prayer) from a
near by mosque.
I cringe and open
my eyes. Next moment the thought of an Islamic hell with its rising
blazes and boiling waters grabs my mind. The realization of the horrendous
punishment waiting for me for not offering the ritual prayers frightens
me to the core of my senses. Now I do not see any more beauty
around. The mountains, the valley, the mist and the smell of
flowers, all these don't mean anything to me. My serenity is lost.
But I am a Muslim.
I cannot spend more time there immersing myself in the beauty of nature.
Each time I here an Azaan I must stop whatever I am doing and without
delay should enter into a ritual prayer.
Don't ask me why I
am not allowed to offer a spontaneous, personalised prayer from
where I am standing now. Because I am a Muslim! I cannot offer my prayers in whatever
manner I wish. Firstly I have to find a place where I can
perform my wudu (ablution). If no water available then I have to pour sand
over my hands and legs as a symbolic washing ritual. Then I have to
do some geographical exercise for finding the location of
. Don't frown up on this!! Don't you know that is where the Holy
I am a Muslim. And
I need to face towards the direction of Kaba each time I pray. Or
else my prayer becomes invalid.
Last summer I
married the woman I loved. We used to come to this valley as friends.
She was a Christian at that time. I would watch her closely as we walked
along the foggy valleys holding each others hands. I admired her
beautiful hair as it rippled in the softly blowing wind. She
too felt the fresh air fondling her wavy hair and she used to enjoy
every bit of it. But not anymore! She is a Muslim now. I was
told I should better have her converted to be a Muslim before I marry her. And
a Muslim woman is not allowed to display her hair when she is in public. If
she does so, the Mullas said, she will go to hell. And I did not want her
to go to hell. The refreshing winds coming from the gardens of
daffodils could not do anything about it. In the all encompassing
Burqua she now looked like a walking Coca Cola bottle.
And I cannot pity her. Because I am Muslim!
These days my
paint brushes are gathering dust in the attic of my house. "Don't
waste your time. Recite Quran if you don't have anything better to
do". They said. Or if you really want to paint, do Arabic
calligraphy of Quranic versus". Anything other than this was not
Last week when my
wife picked a poetry book to read, they said. "Don't read this
rubbish. What poetry is there on Earth better than Quran?"
A while ago, when
my friend visited my house, he eyed my guitar with a suspicious look.
"These things are for "Kaffirs". He sneered. And
I put away my guitar not to touch it anymore. Just like Cat Stevens (Now
Yusuf Islam ) was ordered to do when he converted to Islam.
Allahu Akbar ....Allahu
blaring out of the mike. Time for another
ritual prayer in a series of five! As I get up clumsily to prepare myself
for the next prayer, I see a group of people going towards
the mountain. They were laughing over a joke someone just cracked. One
of them began to sing a song and the others soon joined.
Now they are singing together.
I knew they were
not Muslims. Suddenly I realized that I have started to become
jealous of other people.
I am a total stranger
to the romantic existence of human life. Because I am Muslim