It was just a regular evening. Bored, I was flipping channels on the TV when, suddenly, I came across a somewhat substantial man singing a religious song, a ‘Naat’. He looked vaguely familiar but for the life of me I could not place him. I mentioned this to my wife and she, after complaining about my failing memory, pointed out that it was someone we knew very well.

I was stunned. This could not be the handsome, slim lad with sharp features, the heart throb of all females; someone who could gyrate with the best. What I was seeing on the screen was a rotund, potbellied, bearded individual, waving his arms and swaying in what appeared to be a trance. This was an individual who had ‘seen the light’; he had found religion and the change was simply amazing. I had to find out the reason for the puffy face, the flowing beard, the substantial paunch. And this is what I found.

Modern day religion is fattening. This was not the case in the early years but during the past century or so, specifically in the Subcontinent, religion somehow acquired a high calorie content. In a reasonably large sampling of religious individuals, my research proved that those who profess to be deeply religious are invariably obese. Flowing beards consistently adorn well rounded faces, bulging jowls and double chins. Protruding paunches and ample posteriors appear to be common denominators of turbaned heads and ankle high shalwars. Of course there are always exceptions but they are rare and only go to prove the rule.

Look around you and where you find a beard you will find a paunch. Where you see a raised shalwar, you will find that it is raised in the direction of a somewhat large backside. Be it the group of Mullahs that suffered from food poisoning after eating stale halwa or the bearded gentlemen of the Ruet e Hilal Committee who get together on Chand Raat to locate the moon, everyone is blessed with sizeable girth. My local mosque Imam; fat. The muezzin; fat. The green turbaned guy in the corner shop; plump. You do not believe me; go switch the TV on and scan the Islamic channels; what do you see. Bearded, round faced guys with sizeable guts. Each channel has them; fat guys with wild eyes; but the eyes is another story. Let’s stay with fat.

Some of you will instantly object, citing a couple of channels that have slim, well dressed preachers. Fakes; trust me. These are not religious guys….. they are simply smart individuals with the gift of the gab and a good memory; an impressive, uncanny ability to quote the Holy Book, chapter and verse, twisting the meaning to suit the current argument.

Religious people are always well fed. Hence, fat. Thus, religion is fattening. QED.

Any doubts I had disappeared when I was taking a shower. As I soaped my body one morning, lo and behold, a paunch was now quite prominently visible. My once enviable, six pack abs were no more. It was then I realized that my premise was correct. My desire for acquiring a deeper understanding of religion was working. I now have proof that I am on the right track.

Enlightenment is nigh.

Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar