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Interfaith Dialogue ( 26 Oct 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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A Cab Driver Decided To Lecture Me Because I Said both ‘Allah Hafiz’ and ‘Hey Ram’

By Shalini Gupta

October 26, 2017

Has religion become the epicentre for our morality, safety and dignity? Have we, as human beings, sold ourselves to the judgments and agendas of religion?

A few days ago, I stepped into a cab that was waiting outside my house. The domestic worker handed me the things I needed and in her customary way bid farewell to me by saying, “Allah Hafiz, Didi!” I reciprocated by saying the same.

As I shut the car’s door, I sensed the cab driver’s body language stiffening. There were pictures of gods and goddesses in the car, which made me understand why his attitude had changed. Halfway through the journey, there was a jerk and the words “Hey Ram!” came out of my mouth, unconsciously.

He asked me why I said “Hey Ram” because when I had sat in the car, I had said “Allah Hafiz”. He said, “Aap Musalman Hain! (You are a Muslim!)”. I told him that I am a Hindu.

Ahh! These words were an instant shot of morphine calming his piqued religious sensibilities. He took the next 15 minutes to educate me about the rights and wrongs of my religion. Later in the evening, I relived the incident and a plethora of questions raced through my mind.

Is this the progressive India we talk about?

The absurdity of what had transpired in the morning completely astounded me. The number of communal violence incidents made me think about the magnitude of the problem and the hatred that is simmering inside many people of this country.

Could the underlying factor actually be repressed anger with oneself? Tomorrow, will I have to check whether the driver in my cab is a Hindu or a Muslim? I don’t know where we’re headed in this century – a blooming period or on a pathway of doom?