By Almas Kiran Shamim
7 June 2011
I am a Muslim and I am an Indian. I was
born and brought up in this country, speaking Urdu/Hindi and using terms like ‘Namaaz’
and ‘Roza’. I have no desire to suddenly change my language because
‘some’ people find it inappropriate. I absolutely hate the de-Indianisation of
Indian Muslims, saying, for example, “Ramadan Kareem” instead of “Ramazan
Mubarak”, and “Salat” instead of “Namaaz.”
Today, someone told me that ‘Khuda hafiz’
is not the correct word to be used, and we should rather say ‘Allah hafiz’. The
reason given was that “Parsis also use Khuda hafiz”. I have heard the same
ridiculous notion earlier as well. I am very sure that a lot of people reading
this also have similar views. In any case, I make it clear to anyone and
everyone reading this post, that I, Almas, will not stop saying ‘Khuda hafiz’.
Also Read: Changing
Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
Firstly, for the benefit of the readers,
‘Khuda’ is a word incorporated into Urdu from Persian (like many other Urdu
words). If you do a thorough search, you will find that the word ‘Khuda’ has a
very elaborate meaning – from ‘the powerful one’ to ‘the one to whom sacrifices
are offered’. To keep it simple, we shall use the commonest meaning for which
the term ‘Khuda’ is used, i.e., ‘God’.
When I say Khuda, I mean my God, my
Creator, the One to whom I shall return. When I say Khuda, I mean my Allah.
However, obviously, not everyone in the world speaks Urdu and not everyone in
the world calls Allah ‘Khuda.’ Just like not everyone in the world speaks
English, not everyone in the world would call Allah ‘God’. However, I am not
‘everyone in the world’, and I do call my God ‘Khuda’. It doesn’t matter to me
who uses this word for what other purposes. There are people who say that
‘Khuda’ should not be used because a lot of other people use this term for
Urdu is a language, so is Persian, and
anyone who speaks in this language can use ‘Khuda’ for his God. A Christian
from Pakistan can use ‘Khuda’; a Zoroastrian from Iran can use ‘Khuda’. This,
by no means, implies that a Muslim from either Pakistan or Iran cannot use
When you say that ‘Khuda’ can also mean the
Christian God or the Parsi God or even the Sikh or Hindu God, you are actually
trying to say that there IS a Christian God, a Parsi God, a Sikh God, and a
Hindu God besides a Muslim God Allah.
Tell me, is this what you believe in?
Does this make you a Muslim?
Tell me, what is the most important thing
to be a Muslim?
The belief in one God.
La Ilaha Illallah.
There is no God but Allah.
So, when anyone says ‘God’, what should
come to your mind?
Allah, because who is Allah but Allah?
There is one God who created us all, who
provides for us all, whether we be Muslim or Hindu or Parsi or whatever. Then what
exactly do you mean when you say that ‘so and so people also call their God
Do you realize that a Christian Arab also
uses the word ‘Allah’ but for him Allah is the father of Jesus. So, now,
shouldn’t I stop using the term ‘Allah’ too? Do you realize that when Huzur (Salallahu
Alaihi Wasallam) became a Prophet, Arabs belonging to the Jahiliya also
worshipped Allah, only that they also worshipped Uzza, Lat, and Manat? So,
doesn’t this also mean that I should stop using ‘Allah’?
A lot of Non-Muslims believe that Allah is
some ‘other’ God, i.e., a God other than their own God. So, doesn’t ‘Allah’ too
conjure images other than what we, as Muslims, know ‘Allah’ means? Now, if
‘Allah’ despite being used by other sects means Allah then I am sure ‘Khuda’
too can mean ‘Allah’ for me.
When a Christian says ‘Khuda hafiz’, he
might be leaving you in the protection of God the Father. However, when I, or
any other Muslim, say ‘Khuda Hafiz’, we are leaving you in the
protection of Al-Ilah – The God.
There are definitely reasons why you can
tell me to use ‘Allah hafiz’ instead of ‘Khuda Hafiz’. The best
being that Allah calls Himself Allah in the Qur’an. Also, that saying the
‘word’ Allah itself brings blessings and that it binds the Ummati in a common
thread. If you give me these reasons I will agree with you. However, if you
give me the stupid reason that a Parsi also calls God ‘Khuda’ than you
are going to get a piece of my mind.
Besides, Allah created us all differently –
there are Muslims with golden hair and blue eyes, Muslims with black skin and
curly hair and Muslims with brown skin and black eyes. We eat different food,
speak different languages and have different cultures. We are united in our
belief and our belief doesn’t include us becoming Arabs. No, I don’t mean that
‘Allah’ is for Arabs alone. What I mean is that this sudden need among Indian
Muslims to switch over from ‘Namaaz’ to ‘Salaah’ and the like, and also a
sudden defilement of ‘Khuda hafiz’, have all arisen (I believe) from that same
misconception that Muslim and Arab is synonymous.
It is NOT.
I live in Kerala (at present) and the
Muslims here use the term ‘Niskkaram’ or ‘Namaskkaram’ for ‘Namaaz’
/ ‘Salaah’. Yet, I don’t find huge forums on the Internet debating the
usage of the term. Nor do I find Keralite Muslims with any sense of shame in
their usage of a word that is well known to have Hindu origins (if I can call
them that) to refer to the second pillar of Islam. Yet, ‘Namaaz’, ‘Roza’, and
‘Khuda’ are so vehemently opposed. The only explanation that I can find for
this absurd phenomenon is the huge population of Hindi/Urdu Muslims.
Keralite Muslims form a small population
and their ‘terms’ are not so apparent to the larger Muslim world, nor are they
a threat. Urdu/Hindi Muslims are a huge group of people and since we have
become part of a global community the Urdu/ Hindi Muslim ‘terms’ have somehow
stood as competitors to their ‘Arabic’ counterparts.
With an increasing Western Muslim
population, due to an unprecedented rise in reversions, Arabic in its chaste
form is being embraced as the sole language of Islam.
In such a scenario, naturally, the older
Indian/Pakistani Muslims who use Urdu/Hindi in its various forms present the
single largest ‘alienation’. Thus, there is this need to extol the usage of
‘Arabic’ terms, or rather deprecate the usage of Urdu/Hindi terms that the
larger Muslim World cannot understand.
I feel that this is ridiculous. Trust me,
my God can understand all the languages he created. He really does. The need to
de-Indianise us (Urdu/Hindi Muslims) stems from the belief that how can
anything Muslim be non-Arab? It is very similar to the Urdu/Hindi Muslim
beliefs that how can anything Muslim be non-Urdu/Hindi (within India)?
Since most Muslims in India know one or the
other form of Urdu/Hindi, even if their mother tongue is something totally
different (for example, Tamil), there is a common belief that all Indian
Muslims speak Urdu. This is not true. I know Keralite Muslims who don’t know
the ‘Alif’ of Urdu and yet they are beautiful Muslims.
We need to realize that the pulse of the
Ummati, the golden thread that binds us as Muslims, is our belief and not our
language. We need to understand that ‘your God and my God and his God and her
God and that God and this God and their God’ is for people who believe that
there can possibly be more than one God.
What makes us Muslims is our proclamation:
“There is One God.”
Now, whether I call him God, or ‘Rabb’ or
‘Khuda’ or ‘Bhagwan’ or ‘Malik’ or ‘Parwar Digaar’, is not of as much importance
as that I call Him and Him alone.
There is only One who can possibly be God
Him – Al-Ilah – The God
Wahadahu la Shareek
Almas is a medical student in Kerala
Muslim Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz