LOOKING BACK AT MY DISTANT PAST
By Khalid Umar
I am a Muslim of the Indian subcontinent. Let me tell you a story. This is the story of my life.
I am 1,300 years old. I live in India, which has now one of the largest communities of Muslims in the world. I also provide intellectual leadership to Islam. I am also home of great scholars and Sufi tradition of Islam. And yes, I am proud of who I am now; a Muslim who worships Allah and believes in Muhammad & Quran. I live and die for Islam. I even divided the land called India for Islam with the help of foreign rulers and I am ready to do it again if opportunity arises.
But I was not always a Muslim. About 1450 years ago there were actually no Muslims in this world. I was a follower of Hinduism which is the oldest religion of mankind. I had been like this for generations. If human civilization is 10,000 years old, then I was a Hindu for 10,000 years. If human civilization is 100,000 years old, I was a Hindu for 100,000 years.
But then something changed.
I rejected everything that I had been following for thousands or even million years. This change did not come easy. Habits are not easy to form and it was my dharma; the story of my lineage for centuries. It was a life of exquisite stories, mythology, colours, rituals, dances, music, mantras and food, infused in my blood. It was the most difficult transition which took many generations of hardship to accomplish. But, Al-hamdolillah, I became a Muslim, dheeray dheeray, slowly, albiet surely.
I have some vague memories in my hereditary DNA how it all started. My forefathers were peaceful and spiritual people who lived in harmony with nature. They had no expansionist desires. We were a vast land from the world’s tallest peaks to the longest rivers and deserts. Herds of Arab, Afghan and Mongol armies of looters started ransacking my land, about 1000 years ago. The came & came in droves. They killed my fathers and brothers. They dishonoured my mothers and sisters. My mother was one who was enslaved and sold in the bazars of Baghdad. The mountain pass in Afghanistan looking at the Indian plains was named Hindu-kush, so much was the blood strewn of my brethren. They massacred my people and continued to do so for centuries. I died and lived as well, to pass on my genetic lineage and expand my tribe of Islam that in 1941 census we were 24.3% or 95 million in 1230 years of coercion & conversion (712-1941).
I dishonoured my foundations due to fear initially. Slowly generations who followed forgot the sacrifices of my parents, sisters and brothers. I became a diehard Muslim. I reassured myself that it was time for a change and may be that was the only way my family could live in peace and without disgrace of slavery. It was the most tragic, bloody, dangerous, sad and painful compromise in my life’s story of 10 centuries.
The effect was so brutal that I refused to look back at my history, lest my old wounds begin to fester again. When I am told by Will Durant that “The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within,” no tears or remorse touches my heart.
I am suffering from historical amnesia. I have forgotten my entire history. Today, when someone reminds me of these painful experiences, I refuse to pay attention to them. I dismiss them as stories concocted by anti-Islamic elements and dismiss the facts of history and archaeology. I don’t question the ruins of Nalanda, Gyanvapi mosque or Somnath temple.
I forgot the high principles taught to me by nature. I forgot the lessons of my relationship with the Cosmos. I forgot that Brahman lives inside me; indeed, I am the Brahma, the eternal God. I externalised my God as Allah, perched somewhere in a far corner of the Universe. I relegated myself from being the God to an entity without any knowledge of relationship with the reality. My paradise became a brothel house of 72 virgins, food, fruit and booze, owned and managed by Allah. I killed many of my brethren for the lust of that brothel house. It was the scare of hell which overtook my sanity. I forgot my scriptures. I lost my relationship with Upanishads & yogic traditions. I lost dharma as well as karma.
Now sometimes if the memory of my blood-soaked past emerges in my dreams, my eyes no longer ooze out tears of blood, my heart no longer misses a beat. I retaliate by clinging more fiercely with my faith group.
I know I have lost so much. I have lost connection with the land of my ancestors. I have sacrificed a lot to become a Muslim. Islam was not handed to me on a platter. No prophet spoke to me in my language. No angel descended from heavens. I adopted a revealation which was not meant for me. I believed the hearsay and destroyed everything that had always been my foundation; the history in which my ancestors were the heroes. The stories which were part of my intellectual and cultural heritage. I rejected all just to become a Muslim. I bet no one in human history has made such a sacrifice. I destroyed myself and the land l belonged to.
I am an unfortunate member of the lost tribe of Hinduism. I live with those who are related to me in blood and history. But I can’t love them or go back to their fold, due to the gruesome memories of blood inflicted on my soul, via generations of blind faith on scriptures, holy in name only. To me my own blood brethren are Kafirs!
I am an indoctrinated lost soul. I am an (unfortunate) Muslim of the Indian subcontinent.