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Diary of a Beardless Rumi - How it All Began

Diary of a Beardless Rumi - How it All Began

Issue 76 January 2011

 My name is Musa. This is a diary of my journey to gain a spiritual experience. Now, you’re going to think that’s kind of funny because if you were to look at me you would automatically assume that I have spiritual experiences the way people have dandruff. I have a longish beard and I generally wear a white shalwar kameez. I always wear a white skullcap and if you were to look even more closely, you would see a small piece of a tree sticking out of my head, just above my right ear. That’s my miswak. I never go anywhere without it. It’s more a part of me than my boxer shorts.

 I used to chew bits off and spit them into people’s ears - just to see their reaction. But I stopped doing it after a while; it’s really childish and you rarely hit your target anyway so what’s the point?

 To add to that- I am almost a hafiz. I say almost because I got sent home on medical grounds. The elders at the madrassah where I study thought I had chronic diarrhoea because of me spending so much time in the toilet. In a madrassah, everything is rationed. Food as well as toilet time and because everything is run on a budget people get irritated if you exceed your quota. Really, it wasn’t the case at all. I got hit in the thigh with a cricket ball. For the guy living in a normal home with a normal toilet, it isn’t really an issue. But if you’re guy in a madrassah with a hole in the ground for a toilet, then it becomes a problem. Because you can’t squat so well - if you get my meaning. So they sent me home to get cured.

 Now, you’re probably thinking what the hell is this guy doing in a madrassah. Truth be told, it wasn’t really my idea. You see my father (Aboo) heard from someone that a hafiz can take 10 people to paradise with him. So he became very keen on getting entry through me. The reason was he’d been a naughty guy when he first came to England. He got involved with an Englishwoman and had a son. He figured he could keep two wives the way you can keep two jumpers. But unfortunately, when my Mum came over she told him it was her way or the PIA (Pakistani International Airlines). So Aboo got all mushy and cried and said he would die without her. Even though he was obviously doing pretty fine so far. So he had to say goodbye to his English family.

 Aboo always felt bad about the whole affair. So he came to the conclusion that I was his get-out-of-hell card. I asked Aboo about his English experience one time. He told me it was a temporary marriage, which I did not understand at all. So he explained it by saying it’s the same idea as a courtesy car. You come to a new country and you realise you need a car. You look around and find one. Then, after a while you realise that cars in England are more trouble than the cars in Pakistan. They make more noise and need more money, and you know that when you have to send money back then every penny counts. So you have to make do with one car: so you settle for the one that gives you less trouble.

 I don’t know much about cars, but his thinking seemed pretty screwed up to me. But kids have got to do whatever their fathers say. So off I went to madrassah for the two-year course to become a hafiz. Eighteen months had gone and I had just 30 more short surahs to memorise. Then I got sent home.

 On my first day at home I heard someone knocking on the door. I opened the door to find an old woman with a lot of makeup. She smiled at me and asked if I would be interested in a spiritual experience, as if it was a two for one deal down at Tesco’s. I smiled back at her and promptly slammed the door shut in her face.

 But her words stayed with me for the entire day. And then it finally hit me. Here I am, a holy man who prays five times a day and has a miswak in his ear, but I have never ever had an actual spiritual experience. None of my knowledge means anything unless I have a spiritual experience. At that moment, I made a huge decision. I don’t want to be a holy man. I want to be a spiritual man. So my journey begins...


This new section of the magazine is based on the lead character of the best selling novel by Sagheer Afzal, The Reluctant Mullah (which we reviewed in April 2010). You can read the review here.




Words - Sagheer Afzal

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