It’s Time! Secularism Should Become An Official Religion

You know what’s the best part about travelling and exploring the world? If you have travelled then you do, and those of you who haven’t, this one is especially for you.

I’m afraid what I’m about to tell you might just shatter your feelings but No! The best part about travelling is not finding Instragram worthy posts. It’s okay; take a moment to let that sink in.

Now that we got this out of our way, let’s hop on to the real deal. So I was born in Palghar, a small village on the outskirts of Mumbai. Fortunately I was only born there; my parents raised me in a popular suburb of Mumbai. I said fortunately, because I take pride in the fact that I come from THE cosmopolitan city of India. I went to a convent school and my first two friends at school were Muslim, and Parsi. I was constantly surrounded with classmates from different religions and backgrounds.

I grew up praying to Jesus every morning, then praying to Ganpati Bapa every evening while simultaneously hearing the Adhan calls. Every year I celebrate Diwali, Christmas, and Eid. Honestly, the latter is just about eating Biryani and Sheer Khurma.

As I grew through my teenage years and entered the young adult phase, my personal life complications kept me so occupied that I forgot to address God, religions, and form an opinion on the same. All these things just existed in the background. On the foreground however, my belief in God kept decreasing. I didn’t pray daily, I didn’t visit temples and I became agnostic. I couldn’t decide whether God existed or didn’t. I didn’t even try to understand Hinduism, let alone our fellow religions and their significance. By 23 I had quite a handful of friends but they all were Hindus, maybe one or two Christians. Remember my Parsi and Muslim friends from school? Well, over the period of time I lost touch with them too.

I was quite indifferent towards any religion. In fact I even occasionally blamed people’s annoying behaviours on their religions/castes. I did that because their stupidity would fit perfectly in all the stereotypes I had heard about all the castes and religions. Heard… not experienced.

To be honest I had become too lazy to care and understand why the world was divided based on their faith in God, why people were at war, and why were religions a defining factor. Until one day when I magically and quite unexpectedly landed in an African Muslim country. How and why was it magical and unexpected? That is a story for later. Today, I’ve sat down to write about what my time in Egypt, and travelling across the country taught me on a deeper level.

I met people from all across the globe who’d also come to Egypt to work and travel. My friends are from Brazil, Georgia, Tunisia, Columbia, Germany, Mexico, Kyrgystan, Spain, Jordan, and Canada. I lived with a few of them and we exchanged our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and learning. However, three months out of the four, I lived with a bunch of Egyptian girls; A bunch of Egyptian girls… that’s a bunch of Arabic Muslim girls. That’s a bunch of girls who wore veils every time they stepped out of the house, and read Quran five times a day.

To be honest, before I flew to Egypt, I had inhibitions about Muslims. No offence, and nothing personal but the fear media, and society had ingrained in me, led me to believe it’s a territory I wouldn’t dare to explore. I was better off living in the dark, believing what I was told by filtered sources. And then there I was, willingly moving in with these wonderful girls.

Honestly, the most comfortable I felt throughout my time there was with my Arabic Egyptian friends. I could connect with them without even understanding their language. We ate the same food, lived in the same house, used the same washrooms, and slept in the same bedrooms. We had similar insecurities, fears, and worries. Our core values were the same. Our parents taught us to not disrespect people, to be compassionate, honest, caring, independent, bold, smart, value education, build careers, and not just have opinions but also voice them. Through my Egyptians friends I made some more Egyptian friends, and by the end of my stay I had more Egyptian friends than I have Indian friends.

They told me about Allah, the teachings of Quran, why they wore veils, why was fasting so important during Ramadan, and how was praying five times a day changing their lives. By now I know as much about Islam as I know about Hinduism and Christianity. I learnt a lot of life lessons in those four months; it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows but I’d still without a doubt say it was the best time of my life.

This time for the first time during Ramadan, I was more aware of why half the world was strictly fasting during the day. I ate the delicious Iftari with a sense of familiarity of where it was coming from. I’m still an agnostic, but only this time I am more aware of different religions and have finally formed my personal opinions.

For a change, after a long time in the midst of all the hullabaloo of my city, I paid close attention to the call of Adhan. It took me back to the memories of the Adhan I heard five times daily while travelling across Egypt.

So going back to the beginning, the best part about travelling is (without a doubt) realizing the fact that irrespective of our faiths, we’re all just humans, after all.

P.S. Now you know how Adhan called out to the writer in me and awoke the slumber of my blog.

P.P.S. Penning down this post has honestly been quite difficult because of the constant recurring of words like Religions, Castes, Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc. I strongly feel if only the world was a secular place?

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Adhan Awoke The Two Year Old Slumber Of My Blog

Before I start pouring out my thoughts I’d like to thank the rain and internet for finally making me do this.

I sat to write this post, got distracted and decided to hear an old song called Replay by Iyaz. Then found an Alia, Siddharth, and Fawad’s old interview in the suggested video section.

Procrastination is a bitch. But a procrastinator gets f#@ked.

So magically I sidetracked my plans of writing and started watching this video where they spoke about dysfunctional families.

5 minutes into the video, heavy rains temporarily made my Wi-Fi unconscious. This helped to finally shift my focus back on this post and so, here I am.

Sigh.

Honestly, I’m writing this post just to force commitment down my throat. I’ve been meaning to resuscitate my blog for a long time now, and hopefully post this post I will successfully keep it alive. It took me a lot of time, thinking, self motivation, and numerous Adhans to finally reach this stage in life. I’ve decided to ritually dedicate time to my writing without expecting a pay check at the end of the month. Last two years the only time I wrote was when I knew I was getting paid for it. It was simply easier to discipline myself then. However, what I am about to do now is as good as deciding to go on a diet from this Monday.

After 5 months of going back and forth, I have settled upon a semi-steady path for the next two years. I will be in Mumbai, studying Masters in Communication and Journalism. That’s five hours of college, 6 days a week. In my remaining time I intend to continue playing and practicing Tabla for at least an hour daily along with writing. I’m happy to tell you that my ‘someday’ has finally arrived and I’ve decided to revive my blog that has been napping since June 2015.

I’ve taken this as a challenge to inculcate habits that do not promise immediate benefits (pretty much like writing and dieting daily). I think this will be a good way to feel less guilty and more productive in my everyday life. So, in the fit of self-motivation, like every other enthusiastic writer, I have decided to write more on this lovely space that I mother. I hope to receive constructive criticism and support from all of you in this journey.

When I started this blog I intended to put up only fictional stories and poems. However, I’ve now changed my mind and decided to put anything and everything that inspires me just enough to sit down and write in my otherwise lazy life.

To know why particularly it was Adhan that awoke my blog, stay tuned for the next post.

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