Remona Aly
Tuesday 03 October 2017 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

The Mirror and the Truth

The Mirror and the Truth
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans Breakfast Show


I was expounding the complexities of Islamic theology to a tough crowd last week – my three year old twin nieces, who kept flinging themselves off the sofa and onto me.  

When I showed them an old family photograph, they saw their granddad smiling out at them from the frame. They never got to meet their grandad, but I told them:

“You can meet your daada in Paradise.” “What’s Paradise?’ they asked. “Paradise is a beautiful place filled with all the things you love – it’s got rainbows and dinosaurs…” – “And shreddies?” one twin interjected. “Yes, and shreddies,” I assured them of their favourite heavenly cereal, although I’m sure other breakfast varieties will also be available.

“And Elvis?” The other piped. My nieces are so cultured. Yes of course Elvis the King! They were in fact talking about Elvis the cat – their cousin’s pet.

But I imagine both Elvises swinging about in Heaven. And how Elvis the King would have been utterly devastated by yesterday’s tragic events in his special town of Las Vegas.

I join my prayers with people around the world for all the innocent souls who have lost their lives, and trust they find their peace in Paradise.

It’s always been a mind boggler to me when different groups of people claim they’re the only ones with VIP access to Paradise.

I remember some crusty old uncle telling me ‘only Muslims can go to heaven’. I didn’t buy it. Heaven plied up with only Muslims is not my idea of eternal fun.

When my nieces are older, I’ll tell them the wiser words of the Muslim poet and scholar, Rumi, who said: “The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”

No one has monopoly over truth, that’s the beauty of it, there are shards of truth everywhere. I love to learn about them, piece them together, find the reflections in it all.

The Quran tells me that God could have made us all the same – same culture, same belief, same language, same music taste – but we were created with wondrous diversity so that we can know, understand and live with each other.

Belief is a complex thing, it’s gone through twists and turns in my life, yesterday’s tragedy was another challenge to it. But I love my faith, and I love how others love theirs. The truth is with me, and it’s with others too. If we could all accept that, then maybe we can find a piece of Paradise right here on earth.