I had a great time yesterday evening, and I spent much of it in the company of Hindus .
I’m not saying that to be funny even, though my irreverent intention is to get a giggle out of a few of you. I did spend this evening chatting with a bunch of Hindus (and some Jains too) and just to shock you further, they were Indians. *gasp!* You know, those evil people from across the border that lurk in dark places waiting to sabotage our national interests and scare our children at night.
There weren’t any Sikhs though, that much they assured me of. But still. I hung out with Hindus. I have hung with Hindus before. My best friend in eight grade, Yama Patel was a Hindu, and she was one of the sweetest people I ever met. Then in ninth grade I met Priti, whose mother was always happy to have us over playing in the living room, who knew I was a Pakistani Muslim and loved to talk about the food that was similar between the two cultures. (A Common Ground for Interfaith Dialogue: Parathas)
In high school I met Nipun, who in spite of his cool-guy veneer, managed to be a genuinely nice and honorable person. This doesn’t sound very impressive as far as adults are concerned, but it’s different when you meet a teenager with a developed sense of chivalry, someone who will actually stand up for others even when they don’t have to.
The Hindus I hung out with last night were equally high on the ‘Genuinely Nice Human’ scale. They were part of the Cricket For Peace 2004 tour that’s currently being played in various cities of Pakistan, and unlike other cricket series played between India and Pakistan, they two teams were not divided along national lines (the teams were mixed), and more interestingly, they were composed of children rescued from the streets in both countries. The most interesting thing though, was what the Hindus looked like- Pakistanis.
I was reminded last night of what I sometimes forget, that all people come in only one model (human) with the occasional variations (male/female) and are basically the same, Muslim or Hindu, Christian or Jain, Pakistani or Indian. And though I may not agree with India’s stance on Kashmir (and pigs may not fly) there is no reason why I should hate an Indian solely for their nationality. And I may not believe in Hinduism, but I have no reason to hate all Hindus as a matter of principle. Religion and politics can sometimes make us enemies, but it was Allah who made us all human to begin with, and I think that as long as we remember that, we can save ourselves from spiraling into the type of hate that fuels ethnic cleansing and massacre, two acts that are morally reprehensible no matter religion or nationality.