In my post Religion Vs Spirituality you will find a new commentator Sultan. Please do read his comments.
Sultan is among my close friends. His family including his in laws and mine were very closely linked when we lived in Bombay at the same time. After that, both of us have lived in different places and he has retired to Mumbai as it is now known and I to Pune. His family home in Patna was my home whenever I went there and even during Ramzan, his mother who kept roza would cook meals for me so that I did not have to fast with them. I am family for them as are Sultan, his lovely wife Farida and daughter Shehla are to me.
Sultan has been an enigmatic atheist all his life. Enigmatic, because he is also an Al Haj. Al Haj is one who has performed the Haj more than once in his lifetime. Sultan has done it so many times that he has forgotten how many. He has also performed the Umrah any number of times. Being an atheist and all this? The mystery is in his Indianness. He lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for decades before he returned to retire to India and all his family members and Muslim friends wanting to perform either Haj or Umrah would depend on his hospitality and escorting to do those. A remarkable fellow really, with so much patience and affection.
This atheist friend was a Consultant teaching Indian companies productivity in the seventies before he took off to the KSA. It was a time when I was burning the candle at both ends in Bombay and Sultan suggested that I try Transcendental Meditation to get my act together. He had attended some lectures given by a TM Instructor during the process of his consultancy work and felt that I would benefit. Off I went to learn and that was the beginning of my spiritual path. That nudge from this atheist friend took a trajectory of its own and while he continues to be an atheist, I have changed. It has had no effect on our friendship though.
His comments on my blog post for the first time ever, took me down memory lane to his family, Patna, and also my tryst with meditation and all that involved. And most importantly, the nostalgia took me to how Sultan and I met. That is another story waiting to be told at a different time.