Faith - Written by Aleya Jung


Written By:  Aleya Jung 

(Read about Aleya on contributor section)

Paresh Bhai looks at me quizzically; I have close-cropped hair, earrings, a tattoo of a dragon on my forearm, dark brown complexion, minimal accent and I am reasonably well built. I correctly assume he cannot place me.

 “You from India” he inquires while nodding his head from side to side, I nod in an affirmative. “From Where, Dilli”? 


“What cashte” he shoots through gutka infested teeth

“No Caste” I reply

“Meanz” again quizzically, in utter disbelief, stupefied!

“Well I have a Muslim Background,” I say resignedly

Paresh Bhai’s fears are allayed.

“It is ok to be Mohammedan” he signs off.

Among Indians, it is unheard of not having as they say “cashte” I know what they mean, they mean to ask what religion, but are used to saying caste due to its existence that goes back many centuries. I believe my Father had a big row with the authorities at the time of my school admission- he was not allowed to leave the caste section blank.

But my question to myself and I struggle with this a bit, the question is- why do I not have a “caste”?. Is it because that was not the way I was brought up? But then my sister follows the Christian belief.

 My late father went back to his given Muslim name a few years before he passed away, he had acquired an Urdu Norm de plume and stuck with it for over 50 years, he was an atheist (but called out to Allah when in pain).

 Is my detraction from this faith in response to how Muslims are viewed today?  My marriage to a Hindu girl maybe?  Have I abandoned my faith due to embarrassment, fright? Have I become an apologist? An auto-defense before someone hits me with a slur?

I have thought about this long and hard, I believe none of my arguments for not following a particular faith are valid, but still, when someone asks me what my faith is, or a practicing Muslim raises an eyebrow when I relish pork (they don’t mind me drinking), I hesitate and even as I am answering their question a doubt crosses my mind, am I telling them the truth when I claim I have no faith?


My Grandfather left home at the age of 14, he traveled from Avadh to Deccan (now Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh) studying in a  Madrassas along the way, where he learned sciences, languages and yes a bit of religion too, much like many decades later I went to a school run by Catholic priests. He was known as a Hindustani in Hyderabad.

Through sheer will in educating himself, the already brilliant young Hosh found a job at the palace, and rose to become one of the chief advisors to the Nizam of Hyderabad, he was even conferred with a title, that of Jung , a title I conveniently transferred on to myself like a few of my family members.

Police action in Hyderabad resulted in thousands dead, Hyderabad became a part of India, Hosh was invited to move to Pakistan and offered the post of the Minister of education. But he refused, while his Brother Sahil accepted.

Thankfully I was born in an independent India, to a Rajput Mother, whose family had converted to Christianity only 75 or so years before her birth, they were persecuted by the Hindus and fled from some place in Rajasthan to a small town in the state of Maharashtra.

So what is Faith? Which Faith is better? Is there something called better faith? Am I going straight  to hell for eating pork and drinking? If I am, isn’t it between God and me?  How is my drinking affecting society? People do worse, and they don’t even drink, besides there is no comparison, I don’t think I commit a sin, I enjoy my drink.

But I do feel disturbed with what’s in the news today and I do rise to the defense of millions of Muslims who are not terrorists, not because I consider my self a Muslim, but because I am human. I did not begin to hate white Caucasians because of the letter bomber and I didn’t because of Timothy McVeigh, I didn’t even develop a dislike for them when a traffic altercation led to this big white male calling me “Fair skinned N word”

 I am comfortable here in the United States, despite the fact that redlining exists in my profession as a realtor and Ghettos are created, despite the high percentage of persecutions of the African American Male, despite Women not getting paid as much as men, it bothers me, but people like me can never hate… so Paresh Bhai that is my faith.

Yes Paresh Bhai, I do have a faith and my faith is of the brand that every human should posses and many do, the brand that promotes justice, equality and freedom. It sounds cliched, but this is the only way forward, if you have a religion you follow… good for you, it does not make you better, nor does my outlook make me better, faith is a very small part of the whole, one's actions determine one's faith, not the other way around. When my Grandfather refused to move to Pakistan, that action illustrated his faith, his conviction, not the fact that he was a somewhat devout Muslim.

 No I don’t have a caste, nor a religion, I want people to stop asking each other these questions, and it can never be a good conversation starter. Belief, faith, religion is sacred and personal, take what you may out of it-and Paresh Bhai, I sense you have, like I, taken something good out of it, like millions do.