A close friend of mine brought one of his closest friends to visit me the other evening. This latter man brought with him his daughter who was 28 years old. The occasion was a shared meal and he had driven up from 100 miles away to have dinner with my friend during Ramadan. Conversation continued and B told a long and very animated story of his trip to New York recently.
He had been warned by his mother that he might be mistaken for a terrorist, B is from an Indian Muslim family. This is exactly what happened and he found himself under interrogation at the airport in America by Homeland Security. He was of course released after some time but during the questioning he was asked “if he was a good Muslim?” Now, B is in fact a weed smoking man of many years vintage. Yet he is a good Muslim. He has been on the Hajj. He is a Muslim. However during his questioning than America in order to diffuse the situation he said “No, I don’t go to mosque”.
Following this his daughter spoke about the trip she had taken where she had been crossing from Palestine to Israel or the other way round. She had been asked the same question. She said something like this:
“Then they asked me if I was a good Muslim and I thought to myself, leave me alone, I’ve got to say yes, it’s the only thing I’ve got left.”
What all this means I can only hazard a guess. What I understood was that this young woman, left to her own devices in a sense, had retained effectively very little of the cultural traditions that were her grandfathers and grandmothers. The one thing that was left was that she was a Muslim, possibly in some sense the good Muslim, the question of being good or bad being very dodgy. So when she was asked this question it produces something else.
No wonder people return to their religion through all these years. It is what they have left?