Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse
Kaafir, in Islam, is someone who denies the existence of the one God, Allah, and his last prophet on earth, the prophet Mohammed. I’m knee-deep in atheism, and I still can’t help the upper cases that I put in the above line. The definition is so simple. Being a righteous Muslim is so simple. Choice, it seems, is so plain. Yet, the journey to becoming a kaafir has swallowed me whole. The choice of becoming a kaafir has me thrashing in a web, strangled, gasping for any and every next breath. How did I end up here?
The very first time, among the times that really matter, I bowed to Allah, was for forgiveness. I accepted Him as my God, the only God, accepted his prophets, sent prayers for the last prophet, bowed to him in prayer, and begged for forgiveness. I was 10 years old, and I had realised that I had sinned. I had just come to a realisation that I let strangers touch me, strangers with very bad intentions, and it had happened again and again. I had not realised what was happening until a year ago, at the age of nine, when all of it had suddenly stopped. When life stopped going at such a speed around me, it dawned on me that I have let bad things happen to me. Hence, I am very bad. And in the next year, I had realised that there will be nothing but hell for a person like me. The stories of hell passed around in the household, and the tales of the same from the haafiz saheb who came to teach us the Quran were so scary. I didn’t want to go to any such place. I didn’t want my skin to burn, or my body to be cut into pieces.
Zana, in Urdu, means adultery. It stands for voluntary sexual activity between a married man and someone other than his wife. Quran states that the ugliest of sins was Zana, and the people committing Zana would be the biggest in numbers in hell. To my nine-year-old brain, it translated to Zana meaning ANY sexual activity between people, and hell will be filled with those. I broke. I spent years and years asking God to forgive me for my sins. I cried while praying, I lost count of the number of nights I cried myself to sleep to just be forgiven, that I didn’t really know what happened in the past, that I wasn’t the person who did any of that, that I don’t want to go to hell, that I should be forgiven. God’s merciful, surely if I prayed enough, He would forgive me I thought.
It wasn’t until I was 18, that I learned what had really come to pass. In a biology lecture about reproduction, I was taught that I was assaulted, molested and raped. All by different people, more than once and in multiple instances. It took me another four years to accept that I was really only a victim, and I think it will take me at least more than a lifetime to have faith in that God again.
It wasn’t God’s fault. No, humans are vile. I accept that. I am an adult capable of making that observation. But more often than not, I feel stuck with the 10-year-old me, and I have nothing to offer that girl. I have nothing to say to her. I can’t tell her, a mere kid, that it isn’t God’s fault, because there was nothing that protected her. I have four brothers, one sister, I grew up with at least four of them and my mother, in a middle-class house with my father mostly away because of his job. And all of the bad things mostly happened inside my own house. I don’t know how not to blame my mother for not seeing it, my brothers for being so ignorant, for my father to not have been there for me, and God to see me make a fool of myself crying for him to take a nine-year-old victim’s ‘sins’ away. I don’t know if I want to not blame them. But I’m human. And I’m tired. Very tired.
I am going to turn twenty-two this year. I was twenty when I was diagnosed with recurrent depression, also k/a major depressive disorder. God really didn’t want to relent. All the control I thought I had kept slipping away. I had tried to kill myself more times than I could count. I had wanted to become a neurosurgeon since I was 15. And the depression crept its way into my coaching years in Kota, Rajasthan. I never gave my exams with any sincerity. The pressure, the depression, the loss of control, and the lack of faith had taken their toll.
I am tired now. Anger and resentment are such strong emotions to hold. The damage done to me, physically, emotionally, mentally, is too much to be soothed by apologies. So I decided to let it go. An apology won’t do me good anyway. Forgiving without apologies, I found out, is the toughest thing I’ve had to do. My family has changed surprisingly. They have become softer on the edges. They are not very compassionate like that. They care, but they don’t know how to show they care. They don’t care in ways I would like them to. Often I catch myself thinking of the people they used to be vs what they are today, and I almost want to forgive them and still hold on to the anger at the same time. It is happening, just a bit slowly. They have suffered in their own way like any other life suffers under the reign of God. If it wasn’t for the monsters, my family would have been any other family, and I would have been just any other child in this world. I am afraid that I might still be just another child in this world. That, things like these happen more often than we’d know. That my pain isn’t the first, or unique. I am sorry for every soul in this universe. I apologise on behalf of the one who I’m afraid is too arrogant to apologise to us petty humans.
Also read: On Parental Alcoholism And Broken Childhood
Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe in a god. I am desperate, even. It must be so nice to let your worries be taken away with the hope that someone is watching over you. That you can’t be wronged after all. That what goes around will come around. But I want to stop being a pushover. I don’t think there is a God after all. Humans will live and humans will kill each other in the end. That sounds sad. But the other option is to believe that there is a God who will watch over humans living, and then killing each other, and do nothing about it, and I think that’s worse. If that makes me a kaafir, I think God Himself destined me to be a Kaafir. And who am I in the face of the Almighty?