Rare Voice

An exchange between 2 men in Karachi:
I smiled back: ‘Tell me brother Ashfaq, how did you respond to the 7/7 event in Britain?’
‘I prayed for the well being of all Muslims,’ he said proudly.
‘Of course, you did,’ I said, with a smile of resignation. ‘But, being a good Muslim, did you also pray for the non-Muslims who died in the suicide attacks?’
Ashfaq went into the trance mode once again. ‘Brother Nadeem …are you by any chance a non-Sunni?’
I laughed out loud: ‘Brother Ashfaq, are you by any chance an idiot?’
Ashfaq went all serious: ‘You don’t have to get offensive, brother.’
‘Ashfaq, what sort of a question was that?’ I said. ‘Am from this sect or a that sect of Islam? I was talking about something a lot more meaningful than sectarian.’
‘Doesn’t matter,’ he said. ‘Islam is for all mankind.’
‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘but how do you plan to prove this? Wouldn’t you rather set a more reasonable and intellectual example in this respect rather than a ritualistic one, or worse, a violent one, like that of the fanatics?’
‘I am not a fanatic,’ he said, his eyes now ogling repressed anger.
I offered him a cigarette.
‘I told you I don’t smoke,’ he said, politely pushing away the offer.
‘You may as well now,’ I said. ‘You have already missed your prayers.’
He worriedly looked at his wrist watch: ‘That’s correct. I did.’
‘Don’t worry,’ I smiled. ‘You wont burn in hell for this.’
‘You are right, brother, I wont …’ he replied, and then in a quiet but foreboding tone, added: ‘But you will.’

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