An obituary by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED: I first met Asghar Ali Engineer in January 2002 in Mumbai. I was a fellow with the America India Foundation and a few weeks later I would be posted to work with an NGO in Ahmedabad.
A few minutes before his presentation, I noticed him standing off to the side in silence, staring at the ground. I walked up and introduced myself. I was young, in my twenties, and I did not know what to say.
“As-salaam alaikum,” I said.
“Wa-alaikum salaam,” he replied.
I am not sure what response I expected but I thought that perhaps because he and I share the same faith that we might have a special bond, that my greeting would spark a conversation. After all, I always thought phrases like these serve less as greeting and more as an announcement, as in, I am part of the same religion…
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