He is not the typical Kifaya topi lungi clad Muslim they show on the TV. He is educated, smart and intelligent. His friends call him Abby, they often say he does not even look like a Muslim. Abby bounces the compliment back with a cheeky smile and a wink. Abby maintains a social media presence and he comes across as person who is well versed with politics and current affairs. Abby is a firm believer in anything and everything that is seen as progressive by his liberal mates.
Abby has just finished work, it was a busy day but Abby knows how to handle work pressure. Negotiating his way through the busy metro traffic Abby arrives at home and throws himself on the couch. Time for catching up with some news. Disaster! There has been an attack on a gay pub in Orlando Florida. Every news channel is running ticker updating the news of this gruesome slaughter. Twenty people have been killed. Abby is nervous. But why would Abby be nervous about an event that is taking place half way round the world? After all mass shootings are a regular occurrence in the US.
Fifty killed! This is no ordinary incident. Abby is not religious man but still he makes a prayer “Oh God, Oh God, please, please let this not be another Muslim involved in this act of shame”, Abby whispers. It is almost like when Abby was anxiously waiting to know about his results in the HSC exam, his future depended on it.
Abby knows the drill, he has done this many times before but still he is nervous. It is a never a pleasant experience. Abby switches off the TV and tries to forget about the whole issue. But Abby’s phone is beeping in ever increasing frequency. Abby figures it out, his liberal friends are tweeting and posting on Facebook, this can only mean one thing. Abby’s fear has come true. The shooter is indeed confirmed as person with Muslim name. Abby takes a deep breath and gets mentally prepared for what is to come.
Abby changes his display Picture on social media to LGBT flag. There should be no confusion about where he stands. His friends are proud of him. He is that rare model Muslim that his friends once believed can never exist. Abby knows he has to be careful. An enthusiastic display of protest can be seen as an attempt to hide is homophobic Muslim existence but not Re-Tweeting his liberal friend’s tweets can also create an impression that he may just be another Muslim who is not worthy to be in the sanctimonious liberal circle.
It was a tough night, Sanghis on Twitter showered abuses on Abby while his liberal friends passionately discussed Islamic theology. Is it the Quran or are the Hadits to blame? Is it this verse or is it that verse that inspired the shooter? Abby, the enlightened soul is visibly uncomfortable; he knows his liberal friends have gently placed him in the box of the accused while they deliberate over Islamic theology. Poor Abby, he has not been exposed to such a high dose of theology even in the month of Ramadan! Or is it Ramazan instead? Anyway!
Abby has gone through this before but it never gets easier. It was a difficult night but he was more scared of the next day. Casual office conversations discussing the sad news coming from Orlando. “Abby! What do you think will be the impact of this attack on the US elections” asks one elderly figure in a thick Indian accent. “I am not following the US election but I think this will help Trump” replies Abby. “That is not good news for you is it Abby?” says the elderly man sneeringly.
Abby knew this was never going to be an easy day. Abby quietly buries his head in the papers pretending to focus on work. His liberal friend notices the discomfort and decides to step in. “Fancy as smoke Abby?” he asks, “sure why not?” says Abby and they both head of the designated smoking area.
Abby’s liberal friend is wise. He knows what Abby is going trough so he decides to switch the focus to something light. “What is your opinion about Triple Talaq Abby? “asks the liberal friend who has a passion for reforming Islam and Muslims. Abby is not sure how to respond. Abby is not even married. Last time when Abby found a girlfriend he spent most of his time convincing her how he was not the typical Muslim. Abby broke up some time later. Apparently the conversations were not going anywhere.
In his solitude Abby often wonders why. Why is he held responsible for the act of a person who he did not even know existed before he saw the news on that fateful day just like anyone else. He was just as appalled and saddened by the loss of so many lives. A guy born and brought up in the US by his parents who migrated from Afghanistan, a guy who has a history of personal problems, a guy who legally bought guns in US, a guy that Abby has no relation with other than the fact that Abby is also among 1.6 billion Muslims and the guy who carried out this despicable act also identified himself as a part of 1.6 billion Muslims.
Abby is hoping the news cycle will die down soon. But Abby is also prepared to be put in the box of accused once again for something he has no connection with. He loves his liberal friends.