It happened while I was working in an organisation in Bangalore. In the morning a maid would come to clean the office. The office staff including me considered her as non-Muslim but by the face and lifestyle, she looked Muslim. One day I asked a man. He told she is a Muslim but lived as non Muslim. I was worried about her. I resolved to spare some time for teaching her children Arabic.I went her home as the man guided me. She lived in a slum area around our office mostly populated by non Muslims. She had a six-years-old daughter and two small sons. I talked to her that I want to teach her children Arabic freely. She agreed.
The next day, I knocked the aluminium door of her hut. She started cleaning the house and collecting scattered stuff to make me sit comfortably. She was upset where to make me sit as the place was congested. She apologized: sorry we didn’t have much space and anything to spread. I sat on a mat and looked around. It hurt me a lot to see how she lived with her children. She had only one bed and a worn out suitcase, and a long rope tied from one side to other on which she had put all the clothes. It felt bad to me when everyone in the villages got an alternate of the wood fire such as stove or gas scylinder. She was still depending on the firewoods to cook the two-time meal. It means either she was far away from the reach of government benefits (Ujjvala Yojna) for the poor or she was even poorer to invest that minimum required amount. In Bangalore, such a developed city she was cooking on the fireplace. I saw her blow into the wood to ignite with sweats runs down from her forehead.
The first day her daughter was scared of me. The first time of her life, she opened an Arabic book. I made her drape a Dopatta around her head and with smily grin I patted her and verbalized the first Arabic Alphabet. She was so intelligent. She understood four letters. That day, I remembered my childhood when I was beaten because of not properly spelling the letters. But she inculcated all the letters with pronouncing in a better way. The mother asked me to have tea, unfortunately, I had to deny because I didn’t get used to have tea. As she pressured I sipped. I was stunned to see that with so little stuff how she managed her life and looked satisfied. I had never experienced the life in the slum except reading in the stories and watching in movies but when I spent the time in a slum, I felt how much privileged and dignified we are compared to them. I heard much more about slum but that day I saw how difficult it was to spend whole life. I saw her children, they were happy with the little things they had. They didn’t know and think of the luxuries the rich are having. She told that they had settled there one year back. Her husband worked as a mason. Sometimes he drank and behaved roughly with his family. Her children go to Kannada Medium School and yet they didn’t know what the Quran and Salah are. I asked whether she was offering Salah. I cried from inside when she told that for one year she had neither offered Salah nor recited a single verse of the Quran. She didn’t have Musalla ( prayer-mat). Even she didn’t have the Quran. There was only a single Muslim house in that area. I asked why you do not have the Quran at home. She replied; because the Non-Muslims enter my house. I asked her, what happens if they come? It is good to interact with them and make them understand Islam in a better way. She said; No, if they enter my house and the Quran is inside, our Kalima will be removed from our forehead. It means we will become Non Muslim. I was bewildered where she knew such things. I taught her that Islam wants to live peacefully. We should teach them Islamic teachings and the purpose of the Quran to be revealed rather than keeping away from them. I told that the Quran and Islam have been revealed for All the human beings not only for Muslims. It is our responsibility to convey Islamic injunctions.
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