From a black sparkling Toyota XLi, they pulled off a man onto a wheel-chair and took him into the shelter home; the board outside, read “Gill’s Shelter Home”. Two men in crisp white got off from the same car and shuffled hurriedly behind the man on the wheel-chair. They had some documents in their hands. I sighed.
The inhabitants of the shelter-home are always brought in this way. Their departure sometimes is very grand when their family takes them back for a nice and grand burial, ignore the sarcasm if you’ll please. While sometimes their departure is as quiet as their arrival.
All through the year, the shelter-home remains a forlorn, lonely place. Some people, who notice it, click their tongues a couple of times and pass. Some, like me pledge that they will pay a visit sometimes. Some however fail to see it altogether, their vision fogged by their own problems.
I remember the day it opened, or rather the day they put up the sign board; I was taken aback. I had heard of such places, but for the first time I saw one. The “inauguration”, of the shelter-home was a quiet one. And although I did not for a moment expect fireworks, I thought that may be the people of the area will not let cobwebs adorn the place. Days passed. I forgot; so did the people I guess.
Until the day, when in the same locality, a Madarsah opened.
There was a grand inauguration. A dars, refreshments and the inhabitants of the area were invited. Most of them went, pledged to read the word of God, and send their children. People were assigned duties so that the Madarsah never remains un-attended.
This was the day when I remembered the shelter-home again.
The Quran has been read, understood and preached around me ever since I was a kid. After 2 decades of seeing the word of God being honored and held to the hearts, I wonder, when will come the time, to practice it.
As a student of medicine, I see life at its least and highest worth in the same place all day long. I see people struggling to arrange money for one basic diagnostic test in ways un-imaginable. I see them being dragged on stretchers underneath the buildings of Civil Hospital Karachi that are under-construction and through alleys where uncovered man-holes puke all the human shit out of their bellies.
And at the end of this day when I get back home and attend a wedding because it is rude not to, I see the same people who preach, and read the Quran at the Madarsah spending millions over the food and deco.
I do not weigh and put everyone in the same scale nor am I one to mock at the Madarsahs or against Quran being read and preached. But I simply want us all to realize that it’s high time we stop making religion an excuse for our puny irrational motives and politics and live up to it, instead. The best way to reach God is through His people. That is what we need to be teaching our kids more. The best way is to make them realize what they have, that others don’t and let the love of God brew in their hearts. No amount of incorporating Insha-Allahs and Jazakillahs in our lives, can bring us closer to Him as compared to using our time and money for His people.
©2014. Habiba Danyal
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