AND HE WAS A MUSLIM

AND
HE
WAS
A
MUSLIM…
Fr
Varghese
Paul,
S.J.
I
remember
that
day
very
well.
It
was
the
night
of
March
31,
2002,
Easter
Sunday.
I
had
reached
Patan
late
the
previous
night
where
I
went
to
see
my
friend
Fr.
Tonny
Munnu,
who
was
staying
alone
in
Patan,
and
to
celebrate
with
him
the
big
feast,
Jesus’
resurrection,
on
the
next
day,
Sunday.
In
the
late
evening
of
Resurrection
Sunday
Fr
Tony
and
I
met
some
Christian
families
of
Siddhpur
and
close
by
places.
We
celebrated
the
resurrection
feast
with
them.
Fr.Munnu
tired
from
the
morning
and
evening
liturgies
of
the
resurrection
gave
me
the
keys
of
his
jeep
on
our
return
journey.
Leaving
the
Siddhpur–Mehsana
highway
we
came
about
five
km
on
the
Patan
road
and
the
accelerator
of
the
jeep
suddenly
gave
way.
As
it
was
a
very
dark
March
night,
I
took
the
jeep
to
the
extreme
left
of
the
road.
The
place
was
desolate.
Neither
Fr.
Munnu
nor
I
could
understand
why
the
accelerator
stopped
functioning.
What
was
to
be
done
now?
We
were
very
far
from
our
Patan
residence.
We
had
gone
more
than
five
km
from
the
highway
where
some
help
could
be
possible.
It
was
so
late
in
the
night
that
the
Patan

Siddhpur
bus
services
had
also
stopped.
Occasionally
a
motorcycle
or
a
car
passed
by.
Once
a
tractor
full
of
labours
also
passed
us
by.
We
tried
to
stop
every
vehicle
passing
by
waving
our
hands
but
not
a
single
vehicle
stopped,
because
it
was
a
bad
time.
The
communal
riots
and
massacres
of
thousands
had
taken
places
in
the
whole
of
Gujarat
after
the
train
burning
on
27
February
at
Godhara,
in
which
59
Hindu
pilgrims
were
burnt
alive
in
a
compartment
of
the

Sabarmati
Express”.
Everywhere
thousands
of
homeless
Muslims
were
residing
in
relief
camps
to
save
their
lives
from
the
massacre
around.
More
than
2000
Muslims
had
been
killed
in
the
communal
massacre.
The
ruins
and
destruction
worth
crores
were
scattered
all
over
Gujarat.
At
last,
Fr
Munnu
told
me
that
he
would
go
back
about
five
km
towards
the
highway
and
look
for
some
mechanic
to
help
us.
While
he
walked
towards
the
highway,
I
tried
to
stop
all
the
passing
vehicles.
About
ten
or
twelve
vehicles
must
have
passed
in
an
hour.
At
last
a
motorcyclist
came
close
to
me
and
stopped.
I
explained
to
him
about
the
non

functioning
of
the
accelerator.
He
put
the
light
close
to
the
jeep’s
engine
and
examined
it.
Then
he
said
that
the
string
of
the
accelerator
was
broken.
“Sir,
don’t
worry.
My
farm
is
close
by.
I
am
going
there
to
start
the
pump
to
irrigate
the
paddy
fields.
The
three

faze
electricity
is
available
at
night
only
in
our
farms.
My
farm

workers
are
there.
Perhaps
they
may
fall
asleep
without
starting
the
pump.
I
will
go
there
and
bring
a
torch

light
and
my
tractor’s
mechanic.
We
shall
get
your
jeep
repaired,”
the
Good
Samaritan
comforted
me.
Then
he
went
on
his
motorcycle
and
returned
with
his
mechanic
in
about
10
minutes.
Both
of
them
worked
about
half
an
hour
a
connected
that
broken
string,
and
then
said
assuringly
that
temporally
I
would
have
no
problem
in
driving.
They
also
advised
me
to
take
the
jeep
to
a
garage
the
next
day.
I
opened
my
briefcase
and
took
out
a
Rs.100/

note
and
held
it
to
him,
thanking
him
profusely
for
helping
me
in
a
time
of
crisis.
But
he
refused
to
take
the
money
from
me.
There
was
a
satisfaction
on
his
face
of
helping
a
needy
person
in
a
crisis.
My
heart
was
also
rejoicing
on
meeting
a
sympathetic
man.
“Sir,
you
start
the
jeep
and
go
without
any
worry.”
The
Samaritan
said
once
more.
“I
am
Fr
Varghese
Paul
and
am
coming
from
a
Christian
institution
of
Patan.”
I
said
and,
for
the
first
time
I
shook
hands
with
him
and
also
introduced
myself
to
him.
“My
companion,
Fr
Tony
Munnu
has
gone
to
the
Mehsana
Highway
in
search
of
a
mechanic.
He
must
be
coming
now.
I
will
wait
for
him.
But
you
can
go,
there
is
no
need
now
to
wait
for
me.”
I
added
and
thanked
him
once
more.
He
informed
me
that
his
name
was
“Yusufbhai”.
Before
knowing
his
name
I
was
sure
that
he
was
a
Muslim
by
his
appearance.
His
attire
along
with
his
cap
and
beard
were
that
of
a
typical
Muslim.
I
told
him,
“You
can
go.
I
am
OK
now.”
But
he
waited
with
me
talking
with
sympathy.
We
must
have
waited
about
30
minutes
when,
Fr
Munnu
returned
with
a
mechanic
on
his
motorcycle.
The
mechanic
saw
that
the
work
was
done
properly
on
a
temporary
basis.
The
disrupted
string
was
tied
tightly,
so
while
driving
I
noticed
that
it
was
not
possible
to
drive
the
jeep
in
slow
speed
without
using
the
brake.
Fortunately,
I
had
not
to
drive
slowly
because
there
was
hardly
any
traffic
on
the
road
nor
any
animals
at
night
on
the
road.
While
talking
to
the
people
I
sometimes
hear
very
negative
remarks
about
the
Muslim
men
and
women
after
the
Godhra
massacre
and
the
communal
holohost
that
followed.
Many
people
hate
Muslims
and
their
religion,
Islam.
But
after
my
experience
of
the
31st
March
2002
night
on
the
Siddhpur

Patan
road,
if
I
had
any
prejudices
against
Muslims
and
their
religion,
it
had
vanished
totally.
Not
only
that,
but
now
I
have
more
love
and
respect
than
before
towards
Muslims
and
their
religion.
Why
was
it
that
no
other
traveller
who
passed
by
on
that
road
dared
to
stop
his
vehicle
to
help
me
at
that
time
in
Gujarat
except
that
Muslim
brother?
At
that
time
the
communal
riots
had
spread
all
over
the
state.
The
incidents
of
attacking
and
killing
people
of
other
faiths
even
by
friends
and
neighbours
also
took
place.
So
the
people
were
afraid
of
unacquainted
people
and
followers
of
different
religions.
So
a
person
like
me
in
real
trouble
at
night
was
left
without
help
on
the
road.
No
one
came
to
my
help,
but
that
brave
Muslim
brother.
I
believe
that
his
religion
had
inspired
him
to
help
an
unknown
person
like
me.
Islam
has
made
an
earnest
request
in
the
Koran
to
help
other
people
like
one’s
own
brother
especially
if
the
person
is
in
trouble.
The
Prophet
Mohammad
says,
“The
lives
which
are
created
by
Allah
are
His
own
family”.
So
all
the
people
(irrespective
of
religions)
are
brothers
and
sisters.
[Muslims
consider
themselves
as
heirs
of
Abraham’s
son
Ismael
whose
story
is
there
in
the
Bible
and
the
Koran.
The
Bible
narrates
the
story
of
throwing
out
Ismael
from
his
own
house
along
with
his
mother
Haghar.
At
that
time
Ismael
and
Haghar
went
to
the
desert
Bersheba.
There
she
saw
her
child
Ismael
crying
for
water.
Haghar
put
the
child
under
the
shade
of
a
tree
and
went
a
little
further
saying,
“I
don’t
want
to
see
the
child
dying.”
She
was
sitting
there
crying.
[The
Bible
says,
“The
Lord
heard
the
voice
of
the
child,
and
the
messenger
of
God
shouted
and
said
from
the
sky,
“What
has
happened
to
you,
Haghar?
Do
not
be
afraid.
The
Lord
has
heard
the
voice
of
your
son
from
where
he
is.
Arise,
take
your
son
and
protect
him
in
your
hands,
because
I
am
going
to
create
a
great
people
from
him.”
Then
the
Lord
opened
her
eyes
and
she
saw
a
well
of
water.
She
went
there
and
filled
water
in
the
leather
bag
and
made
her
son
drink.
The
Lord
helped
the
boy
and
he
grew
up.”
As
the
Christians
consider
themselves
the
heirs
of
Isaac,
the
son
of
Abraham
and
Sarah;
the
Muslims
consider
themselves
the
heirs
of
Ismael,
the
son
of
Abraham
and
Haghar.
In
the
same
way
that
the
road
had
helped
Haghar
and
her
son
Ismael
in
a
time
of
crisis
sending
messengers
in
the
Bersheba
desert,
the
Koran
orders
Muslims
to
help
people
in
need.
I
am
happy
to
confess
that
Islam
came
to
my
help.
Today
Muslims
and
their
religion
are
hated
by
many
people.
Sometimes,
not
a
religion
but
the
prejudices
and
misunderstandings
about
it
detain
us
from
building
relationships
with
the
followers
of
other
religion.
I
was
aware
that
the
feeling
of
brotherhood
among
Muslims
is
more
than
in
any
followers
of
other
religions.
I
experienced
the
brotherhood
of
Muslims
and
profited
from
the
feelings
of
brotherhood
on
that
memorable
day.
I
feel
happy
that
a
Muslim
brother
had
helped
me
as
a
human
being.
When
he
stopped
his
motorcycle
near
me
in
that
time
of
trouble,
there
was
nothing
in
my
appearance
that
to
show
I
was
a
Christian.
Even
my
jeep
did
not
have
any
sign
of
being
a
vehicle
of
a
Christian
institution.
Neither
did
he
ask
me
my
name,
surname,
community
or
address
before
or
after
helping
me.
He
only
helped
me
as
a
human
being.
If
there
was
a
Hindu
brother
or
a
person
who
considers
Muslims
as
his
deadly
opponent,
that
Muslim
brother
would
have
helped
him
whole

heartedly.
There
is
humaneness
in
the
common
people.
There
is
love
and
humaneness
in
common
people
but
not
hate.