Author: Dr Jonathan Ingleby, Head of Mission Studies, Redcliffe College
If you travel on the bus from Mysore to Ooty in South India you will find that the bus stops at a little wayside Hindu shrine. The local priest boards the bus and offers flowers and holy water to those who wish to reverence the local deity. The idea is to provide a traveller’s blessing for passengers whose journey takes them seven thousand feet up into the hills. I have made that particular journey many times and the arrival of the priest was a moment I never relished. There was always that slight awkwardness in signalling to him that he should pass me by. I remember doing so on one occasion and being rather pleased when the man sitting next to me did the same. Looking at him more closely I realised that he was a Muslim. We exchanged glances, united by the common feeling that we were two monotheists amongst a bus load of idol worshippers. The truth is that in India it is not all that difficult to look on Muslims as allies!
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