Last night I was wondering over the feelings of young Mehdi
I met a few days ago. I was sitting in the library reading some works of
literature when I heard some sound near me. My eyes caught him. He was a young
boy in his early twenties, with a look of Averroes. I saw tears in his eyes. He
seemed to be a rarity in these times, somebody whose innocence was the life and
blood of his character. I moved towards him and tried to make a consoling
remark: ‘What’s wrong, my dear?’ I inquired. He looked at me and probably found
something common among us that was sufficient for him to burst out his emotions.
‘Sir, I can’t understand this world, full of two-faced creatures’. ‘What has
happened, young man?’, I inquired. ‘Sir, I suppose we hardly find anybody saying
something against the norms of his profession. I mean if you ask a doctor to do
a heart surgery not in my chest but in my abdomen, he would laugh at me --
rather scold me. And then if you ask an engineer to erect a building without
balancing the opposing forces, he would ridicule me like anything. But, sir, if
you ask some cleric to use his brain to address religious issues, he would smite
me in my face’, was his instant reply. ‘You seem to me an intelligent boy, my
dear. But what really made you lose your composure this time?’, I continued.
‘Sir, I don’t know. I can’t control myself, can’t keep myself calm on hearing
something that I believe is antithetical to our unfathomable love for the Holy
Prophet (sws)’ he blurted. ‘But what was it and with whom were you conversing?’,
I went on. ‘Sir, I was talking to the honourable Imam who leads the prayer in
the mosque near my house. The issue was the posthumous religious practices of
the 3rd Day and the 40th Day’, he went on. I then inquired: ‘How on earth could
one induct these concepts and practices in the all-wonderful and immaculate
framework of Islam. Besides, the sources that narrate such practices have been
termed ‘unreliable’ by the great researchers’. ‘And sir listen to what he said.
He said it is mentioned in the Ahādīth and these concepts are ratified by the
Holy Prophet (sws). And then I’m afraid, sir, I couldn’t overcome my inner
feelings. This declaration, I felt, was a debt to be paid on my part. A
statement that could make me feel relieved about my brimming love for the Holy
Prophet (sws). I said to this gentleman that how dare he associated something to
our Holy Prophet (sws) without any proof. How dare he attributed something that
is against his teachings. What made him say something that is so contradictory
to the all-intellectual guidance of the Holy Prophet (sws). I ... I feel it a
betrayal, sir, to ascribe anything weak or unconvincing to our great Holy
Prophet (sws). And, and ...’, he lost the serenity of his soul and couldn’t
speak any more.
‘O you the relic of the days bygone!
My young blood of this land!
A true warden of the soil of religion pure!
Unleash the fumes of thy soul,
No less, but whole.’
These were the words that I spontaneously uttered in a fit
of ecstasy for so mesmerized was I by the sincerity of that soul.
He began afresh: ‘Sir, the next moment that gentleman
slapped me in my face and left. Pray, tell me, sir, did I say something wrong?
Did I reply disrespectfully? Guide me, please, where I was wrong’.
The incident narrated above is an all-encompassing example
of our popular approach to religion. If we look around ourselves, we discover a
startling feature of our lives -- surely, a hypocritical realm of ideas.
Consider any profession that we can conceive. Be it the sphere of engineering,
or the science of medicine, or the field of law, we hardly see anybody who moves
against the established principles and concepts of his discipline. As aptly
pointed out by the innocent Mehdi, simply ask a doctor about a medicine and he
would tell you about the academic/clinical treatment of the dosage. Just ask a
question against the established science of medicine and you would hear him
saying, ‘Have you gone mad? This is medicine and not a joke, Mister’. But it is
one of the most hilarious as well as the most agonizing phenomena that we
encounter when it comes to the question of religion. Be it a scientist of the
stature of Einstein or the respected Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,
whenever they take into account religious issues, they literally behave like
blind and deaf living creatures. No argument, no philosophy and no logic can win
them to the right opinion. And quite surprisingly, at times, they make
themselves absolutely ignorant of the stature of the Holy Prophet (sws) without
On the one hand, we regard our Holy Prophet (sws) as an
individual whose intellect was impeccable, whose character was without blemish,
and whose teachings were divine -- free from any flaw. But very astonishingly,
on the other hand, we are either so eager to associate anything to his
personality without taking any pain to confirm the validity of the source, or
just too willing to act according to a weak reference. A nutritionist won’t
accept any new food item until he or she is given an authentic proof about its
nutritional value. But as soon as any religious question arises in his or her
life, the demeanour is absolutely bereft of the care to find the truth, the
seriousness required to discover the answer and above all the true understanding
of the stature of the Holy Prophet (sws).
In such a milieu of ignorance, the presence of such
individuals like the beloved Mehdi is like a soothing breeze for all the sincere
seekers of the truth -- but a menacing wind for all the non-serious stuff.