The Most Important Man in my Life

The most important man in my life is my father. When I was young, he taught me to question – to never assume anything.

November 26, 2021

He asked me: How would I explain to someone from first principles how to boil an egg? Why is it ok to wear a bikini outside but not underwear? Is it loving to give a cigarette-lover a gift of cigarettes when the gift can kill? He was getting me to think.

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There’s a film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg – feminist icon and US Supreme Court Justice – which includes the frustrations daughter Jane had with her mother constantly questioning her. Jane’s father explains to Ruth: “[your mum was taught] to question everything. [Your mum] now wants to give you what her mum taught her…that’s how [your mum] shows her heart.”  She was getting her daughter to think.

My father’s approach was a key part of my own journey of questioning and reflection – a journey which unexpectedly led me to becoming Muslim. The book Muslims turn to for guidance, the Qur’an, is full of questions to get people to think. For example, one verse asks the reader: “why do you dispute in matters of which you have no knowledge?” – a question many of us could find helpful to think about. And the Qur’an relates an incident where angels are questioning God about the wisdom of creating humans. Even angels ask.

As my father gets older, he continues to probe. In this month of Movember, all about men’s health, he’s focused on health too. He’s recently started kidney dialysis, so he’s considering answers to practical questions like: What needs to change to improve the appointment system? How can the written information he receives be made clearer? What steps could be taken to enhance the medicine delivery process? I hope his questions benefit others. To me, his questions still hit home. That’s how my father shows his heart.

Lucy Bushill-Matthews