In my high school days some forty years back, I had a class mate named Azizur Rehman. To me, in those days, he belonged to a different religion and I was not supposed to eat anything from him. There were a few more Muslim students in our class also. I simply found them very different from rest of us (Hindu boys) in terms of skull cap and use of odd words by them which were not my Bengali (Subhanallah, Goshol, Allah Kasam, Dawat and Dulabhai etc. etc.). I neither loved nor hated them.
Sometimes I used to talk to Azizur mostly about study subjects. He was a good student. I never wanted to know what his parents were. He, like all other Muslim students, lived in village located out side my small native town. I was very surprised to find that all Muslim students perform dawn to dusk fast for one month in a year.
I was a proud Hindu Brahmin boy without knowing what religion or Brahminism meant. But generally speaking, I harboured a subtle sense of indifference towards those Muslim class mates.
Over the years, I gradually became little closer towards Azizur. I started asking him question about his religion and learnt tit bit of Islam from him. However, I observed that though I was interested to know about his religion, he never asked me anything about Hinduism. It was another matter to put my then-extremely-poor knowledge of Hinduism against Azizur’s vast knowledge of Islam. Azizur’s eyes used to glitter when he spoke anything about Islam. At that tender age, I failed to understand his passion about Islam.
I learnt from Azizur about the formless Allah (I was doubtful about formlessness) and Qur’an, simplicity and fighting spirit of Prophet, the musical beauty of Azan, world’s Muslim population and number of Islamic countries and so on and so forth. As a seventh standard student, I was no match for Azizur to defend Hinduism due to my gross ignorance about it and its different related statistics. Azizur not only knew about his religion well (it appeared to me) but was keen to explain difference between Hindus and Muslims. The last part did not interest me as it was not my concern at that age.
In next few decades, I started to find hollowness in all religions. I left Hinduism behind. The religious conviction of a seventh standard student like Azizur always eluded me. After so many years, the memories of Azizur have come to my mind. I can now only solicit Azizur’s forgiveness for my lack of faith in man made concept like religion.