Chapter 20: Fear of Hell, Greed for Heaven: The Savior’s Soft Sell
They have a word of condemnation for the person who is not a Mohammedan. Just as Christians call him a heretic, Mohammedans call him kafir - which is even worse than heretic. Kafir comes from a word, kufr; kufr means sin, a sinner. Kafir means a sinner: anybody who is not a Mohammedan is a sinner. There are no other categories, only two categories. Either you are a Mohammedan, then you are a saint.. Just by being a Mohammedan you are a saint, you are saved, because you believe in one God, one prophet - Mohammed - and one holy book, the Koran. These three things believed is enough for you to be a saint. And those who are not Mohammedans are all kafirs, sinners.
It is a strange fact that India has the greatest population of Mohammedans - even today, after Pakistan was divided from India. Before the division, certainly India was the biggest Mohammedan country in the world. With Pakistan, it was hoped that now Mohammedans were going to have their own country. They got a great portion of the country, according to their population, but all the Mohammedans did not move to Pakistan. All the Hindus in Pakistan were killed, so Pakistan is purely a Mohammedan country. But the Mohammedans who did not move to Pakistan and who remain in India are still more in numbers than in any other country in the world, Pakistan included.
India, although a Hindu country, has the biggest number of Mohammedans. Still it is impossible to communicate. I have tried my best, but if you are not a Mohammedan then how can you understand? There is no question of any dialogue: you are a kafir.
I had a professor as my colleague in the university, who loved me very much. He was a Mohammedan. I asked him, “Farid, can’t you manage.?” Because Jabalpur is one of the big centers of Mohammedans and it has great scholars. One very famous scholar, Burhanuddin, was there. He was old, and famous all over India and outside India also as a scholar of Mohammedanism. I asked Farid, “Find some way for me to have a dialogue with him.”
He said, “It is really difficult - unless you can pretend to be a Mohammedan.”
I said, “That too is very difficult, because then you have to teach me a few basic things of Mohammedanism - their prayer and what they do. And moreover that Burhanuddin knows me - we have spoken many times from the same platform - so it will be very difficult for me to act. I can try, there is no harm. At the most we may get caught and we can laugh at the whole thing.”
He said, “You can laugh, but my position will be very bad. They will kill me because you are a Mohammedan and you are supporting a kafir, and deceiving one of your great masters.” But he was willing to do it. He started teaching me the language, Urdu. It was difficult to learn because it is just absolutely the opposite of any language that is born of Sanskrit. An Urdu book starts from the back and the sentence starts from the right corner and goes towards the left.
It is so difficult to get adjusted: it is just upside down, the whole thing. You have to open the book from the end; that is the beginning. And then the sentence starts from the right and moves towards the left. And because of the way the Urdu language is written a perfect way has not yet been found to print it or type it. The way it is written is not scientific at all; most of it has to be guessed. So those who are accustomed to read it, they can read it because they can guess what it will be. But for somebody who is learning, it is very difficult to guess.