Once more, you are humbled by the Lord of the Worlds
In a land where death is a regular feature of life, you lose the yearning to complain. There is no more in you the belief that every wrong that has been committed will be handled, that someday someone will convince us that life is a beautiful experience once again.
And yet there are those who expect you not to give up, not to yield to pessimism. Times will change, the transformational wheels necessary for a change in history, for the better, will turn. There will once again be sunlight once the storm has blown over, once the darkness has lifted or is pushed to the edges of our world.
We live in hope, therefore, and we tell ourselves, even as we approach twilight, individually as well as collectively, that a better tomorrow will dawn to replace the morbid present we go through. The bloggers have been murdered; Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims have borne the ferocity of machete attacks; diners, local citizens and also foreigners, have been eliminated by men who thought God was on their side in their killing mission.
You walk through the dark, through the monsoon rains shaping a sheet around the village, and you make your way to the ancient cemetery holding the bones of your ancestors. You knew them, most of them; and you remember the piety which drew them to the Creator of the Universe. They prayed to a God who did not sanction the killing of man by another man. Their religion did not ordain that the defenders of one faith possessed the right to bring the life of men of other faiths to an end.
So where do these barbarians calling themselves Islamic State or Taliban or al-Qaeda or al-Shabab or Boko Haram come from? They kill, as all murderers do. They rape, as all men devoid of morality do. But they do all this on the strength of false belief.
They do it in the macabre colours of misplaced faith. The world, they will tell you, was created for them, for the likes of them. For these denizens of the dark, the world was without light until they burst upon the scene with their black banners.
Islam is what they say they are working for, knowing not that Islam is the one religion they are bent on stripping of its core message of peace and brotherhood. They have stolen Islam from us and now have it in their soiled hands as a plaything.
The rains keep pouring. In the distance, through the sudden sound of thunder, a man calls out loudly for his son. Beyond the pond, the flickering light from a kerosene stove in the thatched hut shines on the face of a woman preparing the family dinner.
That man who calls, this woman who bends before her mud stove, indeed all those around you are people who have, in line with the traditions laid down by their forefathers, not lost sight of God. For them, God loves and cares and guides -- and He exists for all mankind.
Drenched in the rain, you know it is that unalterable truth of life which comes back to you, to speak to you of the universality of man: The paths of glory leads but to the grave. Thomas Gray speaks through the rain and the thunder. Life, you tell yourself for the millionth time, is but a transition to the end. We do not know where the seasons take us. We flow.
It is spirituality which eludes the savages who kill in the name of faith. They kill through the brutal weapon of inordinate hate -- hate for other faiths, hate for women, hate for music and literature, hate for Creation. This hate infiltrates areas of the deepest philosophical interest to men and women everywhere.
These men insult the Sufis who lie buried in their ancient graves; they go looking for bauls and mendicants to kill. They feel no shame and no embarrassment in detonating bombs close to the Prophet’s mosque in Medina.
There is no religiosity about these brigands masquerading as representatives of Islam, for these men insult the name of God and humiliate His Prophets. In their twisted version of faith, they cannot do without the company of women they have kidnapped and who they pass on to one another as sex slaves.
They do not tolerate anyone who does not share their dark ideas of life and swiftly put them to death. But they have no issue with abducting Yazidi women and raping them to satisfy their animal lust.
Twilight grey envelops you in your peregrinations through the ancient fields of your village. A rising wind makes merry among the palm fronds and causes the water in the pond to waltz in widening ripples from the centre to the edge. From a distant mosque, the call to prayer strives to reach out to every living being.
In your heart, it is Allah or God or Yahweh or Bhagwan who reigns. Once more, you are humbled by the Lord of the Worlds. The flames of faith rise in your soul.
Syed Badrul Ahsan is a journalist.