Remona Aly
Saturday 25 November 2017 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Hell’s Angels

Hell’s Angels
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary


If my home village in Kent were a person, it would be an introvert. It’s quiet, reserved, and hates socialising – in short, there really isn’t much going on.

But, in this sleepy village lies its best kept and coolest secret – a commune of Hell’s Angels.

I hear the hungry rumbles and the deep roars of the Angels’ bikes as they whip up a stormzy to ride out into the setting sun of the Kent countryside. I pipe out a nervous ‘Morning’ when I cycle past them like a pubescent on my purple little bicycle, which they could crush in an instant. There is the epitome of cool, and then there is not.

The term ‘Hell’s Angels’ has always intrigued me. As does a story involving a hell’s angel that’s been passed down through 14 centuries.

It’s a story that Prophet Muhammad related about a man who came from an evil land where he’d killed 99 people. But with a heart yearning to repent, he sought out a monk and asked, ‘Do I have hope of mercy?’ The monk was like ‘Er no. Are you kidding me, you’ve killed 99 people.’ Wrong answer. Thus denied, the distraught man killed the monk. He’s got 99 problems but a monk aint one, comes to mind.

The repentant killer finally found a pious scholar who gave him hope and directed him to a land of goodness, but on the way there, the man fell dead. A hell’s angel appeared, as did an angel of mercy and they argued over his soul. But God in infinite compassion, rewarded the man’s desire to repent, so it was the angel of mercy who carried his soul away.

This story tells me so much about the big time mercy upstairs, but mercy doesn’t come as easily to us lot down here.

If someone hurts those I love, cuts me up on the motorway, or my brother eats all my chocolate again, I feel very unforgiving. It’s so hard to forgive. But that’s because compassion isn’t passive or weak, it’s active and strong. It requires effort, resilience, sacrifice.

A Sufi sage was once asked “What is forgiveness?” He replied, “It’s the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.”

No parfum de mercy or eau de forgiveness can come to me without a little crushing, but preferably not under the wheels of a hell’s angel.