Aaaand I’m back! Long time no see, friends 🙂 For today’s Motley Monday I just wanted to share an anecdote. Make of it what you will, but I’m hoping not all of you are painfully cynical…because I’m painfully idealistic. And this bittersweet story is one that I cherish:
My parents, like many of yours, grew up in midst of serious Hindu-Muslim tension–most of it partition related, but probably not completely. My father’s youngest brother was murdered by their Muslim neighbors–boys that grew up eating from my dadi‘s hands–on the steps of a local temple. Children killing children. I can’t even begin to understand the world that my parents grew up in and I honestly don’t like to think about it. I grew up hearing not these stories, but instead stories of the aftermath.
My father’s family never went to a temple together again after this incident and instead visited Sufi shrines, where neither Muslims nor Hindus found it appropriate to riot or disturb people. Until this past year, I had no idea about the back story and was under the impression that my dad’s family just liked Sufi shrines. These Sufi places of worship offered a quiet place to pray, meditate, and contemplate for much of the day. And when they were full of people, they were full of love. You didn’t see crowds of people swarming like bees. You just saw devotion. You heard love. My dad reminisced about these experiences frequently when I was younger, especially after leaving the temple. I remember telling him that it all sounded like a day at the temple and I didn’t understand what was so special about these Sufi shrines. He said, “They are the same. And that is what makes it special and great. If differences are so special, how come people find so many? Differences are everywhere, the similarities are the gems that only some people are lucky enough to find. Even if it takes you an entire lifetime to find them, just look.”
Yes, there are plenty of technical differences between a Sufi shrine and a Hindu temple. No, these practices are not reflective of all Sufis. Yes, we can draw a hundred distinctions between even two Muslims or two Hindus. But I’m not interested in talking about those things. Plenty of scholars, cynics, and skeptics to do that for me. All I meant to do with this post is share an anecdote that I’ve been reflecting upon a lot recently.
I’m going to leave you with this video of Sufis singing about the glories of God in Tamil. I think it’s lovely and thought I’d share.