By Heesha She, New Age Islam
05 June 2018
Muno was in the hospital, by Resha’s side.
Resha’s condition was fast deteriorating. The cancer had eaten up his insides
and the doctors had announced that he would probably die within the week.
A glimmer of a smile quivered on Resha’s
lips as their eyes met. It was as if Resha was saying to Muno: “Don’t at all
feel sad for me. Please don’t look so glum! You won’t believe how glad I am
that I’m going very soon! I’ve almost finished playing my role in the
Muno nodded his head and smiled back—a sad
smile—as if to say, ‘Yes, dear. I understand.”
Muno had never been so close to a dying man
before. The thought struck him that this was the last time he would ever see
Resha, who had been his colleague at office for several years. It felt surreal.
Muno didn’t want to burden Resha with his
presence much longer. It isn’t good to compel a dying man to make polite
conversation, he thought. He stood up to leave.
But he couldn’t just leave like that, could
he? He had to say something or the other to Resha while parting. But what? He
had never addressed a dying man, and so he didn’t know what to do.
Of late—after many years of chaotic,
‘no-limits’ living—Muno had begun to take God seriously. He had even started
praying and spending time at places of worship and retreat centres. He hadn’t
told anyone about this though. Who knows what they might think or say if they
came to know? He was petrified that they might rake up his past (especially the
reckless sex life that he had revelled in till God rescued him). “You did all
sorts of things all these years, and now you’re posing as so pious!” he could
imagine them mocking him.
As Muno was taking leave of Resha he was
seized by the urge to tell him: “God bless you dear. Spend as much time as you
can now thinking of God. Pray to God to forgive you for your sins. God will
take care of you. Your last thoughts before you leave the world should be of
God. They say that your life in the hereafter is shaped by the last thoughts
that you have before you depart from here. So, try to think of God now, and
But Muno forced himself to resist the urge
to utter these words. Instead, he muttered, with false cheerfulness: “I’ll go
now. All the best, Resha. Hope everything will be fine.”
Some days later—this was after Resha had
died—Muno’s mind turned to the events of that day at the hospital. He was
ashamed at his behaviour: offering those meaningless words as sham consolation
to his dying friend. What had prevented him from saying to Resha those things
about God that had come into his mind as he was parting from him, words that
might have been of invaluable help in Resha’s journey to the other world?
“It’s because you are just too embarrassed
to take God’s Name”, a thought came into Muno’s mind.
That was absolutely true, Muno at once
admitted. Although he had faith in God, he rarely talked about God with others,
even when he wanted to. Sometimes, as in the hospital that day, he felt a deep
urge to refer to God in his conversations, but he held his tongue.
To Understand Why, You Need To Take Into
Account The Following Facts:
No one in Muno’s family ever spoke about God. The only time the word
‘God’ was mentioned in the house was not in reference to God, but as an
expression of extreme, generally negative, emotion (as for example, when Muno
might say: “Oh God! I’m late!” or “Oh God! I hate Maths!”, or when Muno’s
mother might scream at him: “Oh God! I’m
fed up of you!”, or when Muno’s father might exclaim, ‘I swear by God I’m not
lying!”). You might not have been wrong if you said that things like money,
fame, power, sex, food or ‘having a good time’ were the gods the family (Muno
included) actually ‘worshipped’—because these were precisely what they lived
for and what they regarded as of ultimate value in life.
No one in Muno’s family prayed. (As a child, Muno’s mother had taught
his siblings and him a set of prayers, which they recited before meals. But
this practice had stopped not long after it had started).
God wasn’t mentioned even once in Muno’s conversations with friends and
teachers at school or later, at university—over a period of around 25 years.
And mind you, Muno studied in what were regarded as some of supposedly
In all the jobs that Muno had held, not once could he recall a single
conversation with colleagues or anyone else where God was referred to (other
than when someone claimed that faith in God was a sign of ‘alienation’ or
‘false consciousness’ or some such thing).
Muno and the people he was surrounded with
had completely exiled themselves from God, you see. Their abandonment of God
was so total that in the circles in which Muno moved if anyone were to take God
seriously, he or she would be branded as:
and in need of psychiatric help.
Belief in God, these people insisted, was
‘sheer escapism’. Only ‘pre-scientific’ or ‘pre-modern’ people took God
seriously, they claimed. If challenged, they might even had said in their
defence something like this: “According to a recent survey, many scientists in
the West are atheists, and so, God is a myth”—as if the beliefs and practices
of some self-appointed ‘experts’ in some distant part of the globe were the
standard for the rest of the world to compulsorily follow.
Given the milieu in which Muno had been
brought up and lived, it wasn’t surprising, he told himself as he reflected on
his behaviour at the hospital that day that he hesitated to talk about God with
others. He didn’t want to be mocked or thought of as strange or worse for doing
“Well, then, your fear of what people might
think of you if you speak of God is stronger than your professed love for God”,
Muno told himself.
“That’s true,” Muno hesitatingly admitted.
“It’s something that I really need to think about.”
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