And so begins my reflection for Ramzan – Ooops I said Ramzan and not Ramadhan. Does that make my roza, sorry rodha unacceptable?

I was born in Pakistan and my mother tongue is Urdu in which we wished each simply “Ramzan Mubarak” i.e. happy Ramzan. I date myself but at that time there was no ‘Arab-ization’ of Pakistan so Urdu was our medium of communication and English was our show-off language.

Similarly we used to wish each other ‘Khuda Hafiz’ another Urdu term meaning God protect you. Such a nice meaning and such a lovely thought. Of course we used the term ‘Allah as well’ as in Hai Allah surat aapki SubhanAllah and Alif say Allah in our first Quran reader. But we were never told that Khuda was somehow a lesser God.

A few years ago however, it seems that ‘Khuda’ was abolished from Pakistan and replaced by ‘Allah’. Now I grew up believing that Khuda and Allah are the same as God, Yahweh, Lord etc. As a promoter of interfaith harmony I spent years telling non-Muslims that we pray to the same God. Imagine the irony when upon questioning a family member who transitioned from Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz, I was told that ‘Khuda” and ‘Allah’ are not one and the same and all good Muslims must change their speaking habits and start saying Allah.

Well strike me down with lightening! Allah is Arabic for God. I am not an Arab. So I continue to say Khuda. Oh wait, just a moment. It seems that the word ‘Khuda’ is derived from Persian. Urdu is a compilation of many languages including some Persian. So that makes the word Khuda un-acceptable?

Coming back to Ramzan. Our simple greeting of Ramzan Mubarak has now been elevated to Ramadhan Kareem which is beautiful of course, but not my language. It seems that there are Muslims who are not Arabs but they believe if they spout Arabic they will somehow become holier-than-thou, maybe their rozas will become more sublime and maybe they are better than those who simply say Ramzan in their own mother tongue.

I call this an identity crisis and want to bring back the beauty of Urdu because

Language is a beautiful thing. When a people loses its language, then it loses almost everything  Shan Davis, Karuk

Khuda Hafiz.