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01 February 2012

“Food” & “Salt”

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By Wasim Ahmed

When we separate Dunyā from Dîn it appears to me that we are separating food from salt. The food and salt are ‘inextricably enmeshed’. From which particular rice in the entire plate of Biryani we can separate the salt? If we separate salt from food it will make both of them complicated. The salt and the food both were very simple when they were together. It is the commonsense that says that the food and the salt should be together. Also, there is a philosophy behind both of them being together.

Do we ever enjoy food without salt? How much do we enjoy salt without food? When we hear about (avoiding) “religious discussions” does it mean that we are differentiating those discussions from the “secular discussions”? Does it mean that the “religious matters” have nothing to do with the “secular matters” and vice versa? In other words, do we mean that the food has nothing to do with the salt and the salt has no connection with the food?

Classifying knowledge (of truth) into “religious” and “secular” categories is akin to separating salt from food. There are places (“secular institutions”) where a lot of Biryani is cooked and eaten without salt. And also, in many places (“religious institutions”) we get plenty of salt but aren’t quite sure what to do with that amount of salt.

While we can somehow eat the food without salt, eating the salt without food is certainly not an easy task. We will not be able to see any higher purposes behind the Biryani without salt and the salt will remain complicated despite numberless books and countless lectures.

What needs to be done, then? Not much, in fact. All that we need to do is to rethink about our own frequent or infrequent use of the terms like “religious” and “secular”. As soon as we do so, let us recall the “FOOD” (Dunyā) and the “SALT” (Dîn).

[Wasim Ahmad is Department Head of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE. He can be contacted at malikwasimahmad@gmail.com or +971505363235]

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