Fiction

2012 Autumn Edition of IWA Magazine

Passing Cloud by Zeneefa Zaneer

He batted his eyelids continuously to chase away the sleep creeping into him. The mechanical noise around him had no power to stop him falling asleep, but the ache in his heart had defeated his desires of a comfy bed and a peaceful sleep. He watched the lifeless body lying on the bed next to him. The oxygen mask could not hide the wrinkles of sufferings in her young face. Her heavy eye lashes were shut tightly as the dark rings around her eyes had not left room for them to open. The rhythm of her breathing made his breathing difficult. He thought the next moment he won’t be living to breathe. The thought forced his eyes to check the monitor next to her, changing its digits more often, the waves of her pulse rising up and down. The beep of the machine annoyed him; he couldn’t sit there anymore, for he knew the truth. The lifeless machine will malfunction any time; it will stop leaving no troubleshooting options to the life. A warm tear slid down wetting his carelessly trimmed beard.

***
He squeezed his eyes. They ached as a result of staring at the monitor for hours. But he had no choice; his email account was flooding with unread mails, business mails and notifications from his friends. He ticked most of the mails to delete without viewing them, for he knew what they said. As the clock struck he jumped on his seat, one after midnight and he was still staring at the computer, trying to sweep and clean his mailing account. He breathed out a heavy breath. It has been a few days and he could not read a single mail. He shook his head and closed his eyes for a second, but closing his eyes closed the gate to the world he was living now and opened the door for the bitter truth he did not want to live in. He fluttered his eyes open and painfully stared back at the screen, his fingers shook as he tried to move the cursor. Scrolling down, his eyes stopped at the bottom of the mailing list, the sender’s name gave a shiver to his soul. His lips twitched slightly, mocking his helpless thoughts. His upper lip caught between the gritting teeth as he waited until the message was open.

****
Hi honey,

Assalamu Alaikum,

Hope and wish you are fine as always with the grace of Allah. How silly I am to type a message to the person whose breath can be felt while I type this message – you are a hand’s distance away but I feel like you are miles away from me. What am I doing awake at this time?

Just wanted to say that I love you the very same way I did before. I’m sorry for hurting you with my sharp words when we had a row or two. It was not meant to hurt you but to bring you back to common sense. All I feel now is that my bad temper keeps you much away from me. But still I feel lonely when you neglect me, when you have time to talk to others and little to share with me. Sometimes I wished that I was your mobile phone or the television, for you paid less interest to me than those gadgets. Please do forgive me, for sharply pointing out those mistakes of yours. It is not that I hate you, but it is because I love you, I want to spend every single second with you, for I know this life is short. I fear to face the truth, the bitter truth in life. Today or tomorrow I won’t be there for you or you won’t be there for me. But still, I’m wrong. I should not hurt you.

May Allah guide you rightly, bring you under the shade of the truth. May Allah give you happiness alone, and keep you smiling always, may Allah, give you the highest rank in Jannah and grant you a beautiful palace and fill it with laughter and joy, forgive your sins even the size of mustard seed and accept every good deed even the size of an atom. May Allah protect you from the greatest enemy and make you a person that shaitan fears to walk close to and a person whom Allah will love, Ameen!

These will be my duas for you, no matter whether you feel good or bad about me my dearest husband, and yes, I know that even though you pay little attention to me, you never betrayed me or will never hate me, it is just that you show less and store much in your heart.

Love you always

***

Copyright MY Lusankar (London)

Tears followed one another, rolling down, veiling his eyes with moistness. The computer screen blurred as his mind recalled the past. That was just another day to him, and for her. A bitter moment it had been when he, as usual, ignored her when he lay down next to her. It was the best way to neglect her when she annoyed him with her attitude – she expected too much. He could not spend his entire life making her happy, giving up all his desires. Why did she want to start a quarrel on that very same day, the World Cup finals!
“Wish you had more time to talk about our future than watching that game!” She had moaned when he switched on the television. The cheering noises of the crowd streamed through the television and filled their small apartment. He frowned but did not hurry to reply to her. Pretending as he did not hear was the best reply for such comments, he had thought angrily.
“Wonder how you become deaf all of a sudden! Ah! Now he’s not deaf anymore…so answer, I don’t mind!”

As she began, the telephone buzzed and she snapped angrily. He picked the phone as if  he was the only living being in the house. The kids were fast asleep and who else was there? As usual it was a client. The anger was washed away and smiles and politeness embraced him. He was pleased to hear his client rather than hearing her endless complaints.

“How silly I am, talking to a person who continuously ignores me. This is the last time and yes, I will never talk to you” she said tossing her head to one side, and then grabbed a bottle of water and strode out of the room. His lips curled hearing her swearing. Wasn’t that what she always said? But then she will talk to him, smile and giggle and then suddenly will begin the very same topic and begin a quarrel again – and would end up swearing the same words.

On that night, when the match was over he walked in to the room and had been relieved to see her asleep hugging their little daughter. Although he felt sad for her, he had promised himself that he would make her smile tomorrow.

That was the day she had typed this message, he thought painfully, drifting back to the message. Why had he waited for tomorrow? Why couldn’t he wake her up and say that he loved her? Why did he waste his time watching that match, without spending a few more minutes to whisper something she would like? What made her feel miles away from him when he lay next to her? Why? Why? His heart throbbed; a lump of lava was burning in his throat making it difficult to swallow.

***
“We are sorry, but she is not cooperating!” As the chief doctor said this, he turned his gaze towards the woman lying on a hospital bed, feet away. His sharp teeth bit his lip to hold his tears. He felt as his throat was tied with a thin thread. The chief doctor tapped his shoulder and walked away leaving him alone in the room. He watched her, with clouded eyes.

“Why did you do this to me? We need you, my kids need you” his beaten thoughts whispered. He paced slowly to the bed; his shaky fingers grasped her faint fingers. They were frozen, he rubbed as hard as he could to give back the warmth those slender fingers had before. The fingers which knew to stroke his hair when he desperately needed someone to care for him, the fingers which hurriedly cooked for him, the fingers which took care of his children, the fingers which had the power to sprinkle love when sadness crept into the family, the fingers which were furious had pushed his hand away when he had hurt her….The tears he tried to hold within him began to slid down freely. As his tears fell on to her hand, he felt her fingers move. He squeezed helplessly.

She opened her eyes slowly; he moved closer to her. The oxygen mask moved an inch as she tried to greet him with a pale smile. His grip tightened. He was lost in his thoughts as his eyes peeped into her eyes, swollen and reddened with tiredness. There had been a time he adored those beautiful eyes, there had been a time he admired her beauty, but as time passed he was tied with more duties and had less time to spend with her, his soul mate. She had been lonely when he had gone out, seen the world. All her world had been his home with his children. She had lived as a bird whose wings were cut short, for she had sacrificed many of her desires to please him and his family. All she expected in return was love but had he satisfied her with what she wanted? He loved her, still he loved her. But his ego has stopped him showing love for her. Responsibilities blinded his eyes and held him tight, not letting her know how important she was. Days were spent as if there will be many years to live together. But how short the time was that he had spent with her. This was life. As regrets filled his heart he could feel how guilty he was. The guilty conscience made him lower his gaze helplessly.

“Ch…children…?

He heard her weak voice. He swallowed the painful thoughts and looked at her, confirming her children will be taken care with love and love alone. That was the only memento she was leaving for him. He nodded trying to hold his tears, but he failed.

A tear drop rolled down as a pearl from the corner of her eye and smudged on the white pillow. “Take k..ke”.

“I will, I will take care of them…I promise you!

“You.” She lifted her right hand to point him. He bit his lip as sadness crept into his mind. How much love she had for him and all he did was ignore her. He dropped himself to the wooden chair next to the bed. He hugged her hand and wept, for he did not know what else to do. He missed her, he was already missing her. How can he live without her presence? Why had he been ignoring her all these days? Why hadn’t he seen the truth with a broad mind? He had neglected a precious gem for worthless rocks. Why? Why?

He felt her fingers running through his hair. He caught her right hand too and kissed every tip of her frozen finger with endless love.

“I’m sorry sweetheart, I’m sorry…forgive me…I neglected you.” His voice trembled as he said pleadingly. What if he had listened to her? What had she been complaining about? She wanted him to pay a little more attention to the family. She wanted him to discuss things with her before he made a decision regarding her family. Why had he been so selfish? Why had he not given a chance for her to talk? Not because he thought himself superior, but he had thought she would not oppose. She had never opposed him about anything. She had been mourning yet finally she had supported him with his decisions, by giving him every penny she saved.

“N…no…don’t…for gimme!” She found her voice and said with a trembling voice. Hearing her pale voice pricked his heart with thousands of needles. He shook his head several times.

“Why? Why do you have to leave me…I can’t …” He tried to speak but something heavy was stuck in his throat, it pulled every string of it down giving him a severe pain. At the very same time the beeps of the machine increased. Sweat gathered as he was panicked. He saw her finding it difficult to breathe. The gap between the breaths stretched.

Watching her struggling, he forgot to breathe. Tears began to roll down continuously and he screamed. His grip tightened her fingers. The waves in the machine began to change. The staff rushed in to the room, forgetting he was close to them. He watched them helping her to survive, but she was not helping them. His eyes veiled as he took a deep breath. Watching her suffering was painful. He had known her more than a decade, but she had been the other half of him. She had been his best friend, though they had bitter moments in life. She had understood him and sacrificed her life to please him and his children. She was too young to have a heart attack, but this was life. Death is for sure, someone in his mind whispered. How easy it had been to neglect the closer ones and please the strangers? How easy it had been to excuse a stranger for his faults and punish the one who was much closer? How easy it had been to give priority to worthless things and neglect the ones who crave our love? His mind blamed him; he watched her exhaling the last cold breath, with a swollen heart. She had gone; leaving him. How can he express his love for her now? He kneeled down covering his face, hiding himself from his guilty conscience.

***
It has been days. No one to complain to, no one to quarrel with and no one to annoy him with mails and messages, but still he missed them. He wished he had given time to listen to them. She had been a passing cloud. He had been under the shade of her, feeling warmth and cold but then she had moved…he was left alone, watching the empty blue sky. There will be many clouds in the sky, but they will not be the same cloud he had seen, loved and adored.

<End>

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2012 Summer Edition of IWA Magazine

Fiction Buzz

The Islamic fiction story is an excellent example of a Muslim giving da’wah to a lapsed Muslim in a non-judgmental and Islamic way.

Month of Blessing and Abundance – Lasisi Yusuf

Ibrahim threw the brown envelope that contained his dismissal letter on the table. He sat wearily on his sofa. He did not even seek his daughter Rali. He was very sad – just as he felt when Zainab, Rali’s mother left him. He wanted to be alone. He could hear somebody speaking with a megaphone in the compound. He was sure Abubakr, Uthman’s uncle, had organized another in-house lecture, but what for?

To avoid people, he had sneaked into his apartment through the back door. Rali was outside sitting with the listeners.

“We welcome another blessed month of Ramadan,” the lecturer continued.

“Ramadan!” Ibrahim exclaimed.

“.. and we pray that we live to observe it in good faith. Qur’an says ‘O ye who believe fasting is prescribed for you as it were prescribed for those who lived before you.”

Ibrahim was mad with rage. He stood up angrily and closed his windows and doors because he did not want to hear the man speak again.

“How on earth could I lose my job today and a man says a blessed month approaches? A blessed month or a terrible month? He said fasting is prescribed for believers. I am no believer,” he paused. “Leave me alone!” He shouted and continued. “I wonder if all those who sit there are all believers. If all of them are saints, Uthman is an exception. He is my co-worker and drinker too.”

Ibrahim was frustrated by hearing that the month was close by. He lost his job. Uthman would not be available to drink with, for some weeks. He had no savings to take care of his needs and that of his daughter. Club houses would be scanty and brothels would not be vibrant for the next few weeks.

Rali ran inside screaming, “Dad welcome. I was outside listening to a sermon. Ramadan is around the corner. Are we going to observe it this time?”

“Yes my dear,” he answered and thought, Not because I love it but because I just lost my job and I’m broke.  “When is it starting?” He asked.

“In two days’ time. Uncle Uthman is outside listening to sermon. Daddy will you buy hijab for me? I want to pray with Fatimah but I don’t have one.”

“Rali, I am in no mood to engage in this talk. Go to your room.”

Rali quietly went to her room.

>>>

“Your daughter told me that you want to fast this Ramadan and you promised to buy her a new hijab?” Abubakr, the Muallam in the compound asked.

Ibrahim could not deny it. He truly told Rali, but he didn’t mean it.

“That was a very good decision. Uthman told me that you also lost your job and you are broke. You can join us for Sahur and Iftar every day. Try to observe your five daily prayers and pray that Allah should provide you a better job. I will be waking you up at the time of Sahur.”

“Thank you,” Ibrahim answered reluctantly.

He wished Uthman was around. He wanted to scold him for telling Abubakr that he had lost his job. He did not know that Rali would also tell Abubakr that he was going to fast.

It became clear to Ibrahim that he was going to observe the Ramadan fast. He had no money to buy food and free food would only come in the early morning and at sun-set.

“This is a very big punishment. I have never fasted in my life. God save me.”

Abubakr ensured that food was sent to Ibrahim’s flat for Sahur and for Iftar each day.

All the Muslims in the compound gathered to break their fast with fruits, observed Maghrib and Ishah together, and everyone then ate dinner together before returning to their homes.to sleep.

He did not drink alcohol for two weeks. He had listened to sermons on various topics. He knew he had sinned so much. His wife Zainab left him because he was a drunk. He had beaten her times without number for no reason. He once had lots of girlfriends and his fat daily earnings were always expended on wine and women. He could not do without both daily.

Now things were different. He was living his life as a Muslim. He was getting closer to Allah. He was always reading Qur’an and praying. He had food to eat and some money to spend courtesy of Abubakr. He prayed to Allah to provide a better job for him.

As Ramadan approached its end, he was recalled back at his working place. He apologized to his boss and promised to be of good behavior. He was dismissed on the account of negligence of duty which cost the company a huge loss. He was actually drunk the day the incident happened. He vowed never to go back to his sins.

Abubakr prepared his Zakat’l fitr and was hoping to give it to Ibrahim.

“I know you will want to give part of your Zakat’l fitr to me, but you don’t have to bother. I was recalled at my working place. We will give them to the needy so that we will all celebrate the Eid in abundance. Ramadan is not just a month of blessing but of abundance. I pray we don’t go back to our sins again,” Ibrahim prayed and Uthman smiled and said “Amen.”

“Uncle, I was also a drunk, but Insha Allah, we are not going back to it again.” Uthman confessed.

“I prayed it is so,” Abubakr answered.

>>>

Ibrahim rested on the rail of his balcony and reminisced.

It was just two days before another Ramadan. He had saved and built a house. Zainab was in the garden coaxing a new born baby to sleep, because she was back in his home two months after he became a Muslim.

From the author: “May this coming month hold blessings and abundance for us, Amen.”

>>

Below are two comic strips featuring Linda Delgado’s Islamic Rose book characters. The artist is Shirley Anjum, a retired artist based in Ireland. The comic strips were published online and in several print magazines and two are reproduced below for you to enjoy!

Click on the images to read the comic strips.

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2012 Spring Edition of IWA Magazine

In this edition we have two Islamic fiction stories we hope our readers will enjoy: Friendship Well by Nur Kose and an Extract from The Readers by Amina Malik.

Friendship Well by Nur Kose

Quiet moans drifted into my ear from the corner of the room, waking me out of my restless slumber.  I carefully climbed out of my scratchy cot and tip-toed past my 9-year-old brother Hamza and my 7-year-old brother Khalid.  They looked cute curled up on their cots, their chests going up and down with each breath.

Away from my cot and my brothers’ cots, I knelt down beside my baby sister Amina’s rocker and gently rocked it back and forth.  She stopped moaning and looked up at me with large, longing eyes.  I smiled down at her and sadly stroked her thin wisps of brown hair.

A doctor had visited our village last week and had told us that Amina had the first signs of a life-threatening disease.  He informed us that the water we drank was definitely the cause and we should stop drinking that water immediately.  When he said this, I remembered my daily trips to the stream a half mile away from our house.  Every morning, I’d walk along the dusty path to the stream with my best friend Abdullah and a few other village boys.  I remembered looking down into the murky brown stream waters and wishing we had cleaner water.  I didn’t want to go home and give my siblings this dirty water to drink.  I knew it would be bad for their health.  But we didn’t have any other water. I knew that many village children had died because of drinking this water, but there was no other water to drink.    

Thinking of all this, I bent down and kissed Amina’s forehead.  I made du’a to Allah to save my little sister.  I thought of all the people around the world who had so much water that they took for granted.  My friend Abdullah told me so many stories his grandfather told him about people around the world who get endless supplies of fresh, clean water.

As I thought about this, I felt upset with those people who took all they had for granted.  I wondered if they ever thought about us.  I thought, ‘Do people know that we don’t have clean water to drink here in Somalia?’  Do they know that children and babies are dying every day because they don’t have clean water to drink?  Do they even care to know?’ I sighed as Amina looked up at me and smiled.

“I’m sorry, Amina,” I whispered. “But I can’t help you. I don’t know how to get clean water. If I did, I’d do it right away so you wouldn’t be sick anymore.”  Amina held onto my finger with her tiny hand and smiled again.

The next morning, I woke up bright and early before the sun was up to pray Fajr.  After I prayed, I sat in the quiet stillness of the early morning and did dhikr.  I thought about something my father had told me one time when I was little and had a fever.  He said that when we need help or if we want something, we should go to Allah for help. Allah wants us to make du’a to Him and ask Him for things.  Thinking about this, I asked Allah to help the children in Somalia and the children all around the world who didn’t have clean water to drink.  I asked Him to make Amina feel better.

After my prayer was over, I grabbed our water buckets from the front of our house and hurried over to Abdullah’s house.

“Assalamualaikum, Ibrahim,” he greeted me.

“Wa’alaikumassalam,” I replied.  “Are you ready?”

“Yes, I’m ready,” he said.  He grabbed his family’s water buckets and followed me as I walked toward the dusty path that led to the stream.  We kicked dust and pebbles with our feet and swung our buckets in the air as the sun began to come up.

“Good morning, sun,” Abdullah laughed.  “It’s good to see you up.  I thought you’d be sleeping for another few hours.”

I laughed and playfully punched Abdullah’s shoulder.  I thought about Abdullah’s cheerfulness and how it affected my life. Even though his father died a few years ago, and Abdullah had to leave school, he was always cheerful and constantly looking at the bright side of things.  Abdullah always had dreams of finishing school and going to college, but all those dreams shattered when his father died.  However, I had never heard him complain even once.  I was grateful to have Abdullah in my life.  He had taught me to be a cheerful and optimistic person.  He had also taught me how important it was to have a good friend.

When we arrived at the stream, there were only a few other boys who were filling up their buckets.  I put one of my buckets in the water and filled it to the brim with water.  As Abdullah did the same, I looked into my bucket distastefully.  Leaves and twigs swam in the muddy water.  I picked up a stick and tried to get rid of the dirt, but it just made the water dirtier.

“What are you doing, Ibrahim?” Abdullah laughed.

“I’m trying to get the dirt out of the water,” I explained.  “We’re getting sick because of this dirty water.”

“I know,” Abdullah said.

“I’m not being ungrateful,” I quickly said.  “It’s just that I feel so bad giving this water to my siblings because I know it makes them sick.  When the doctor came last week to our village, he said Amina is sick.  She’s my only sister.  I don’t want to lose her.”
Abdullah became unusually quiet.  “Well, all we can do is make du’a,” he said finally.

“I know du’a is important, but make du’a for what?” I asked.

“For Amina to get better,” he said.

“But even if Amina does get better, that won’t solve all of our problems.  Everyone in our village will still be drinking this water and more kids will keep getting sick.  Amina could get sick again.”

“That’s true,” Abdullah said thoughtfully.  “Then we should make du’a to Allah and ask Him to give clean water to our whole village.”

“Is that even possible?” I asked.  “Where would we get the water from?”

“Are you forgetting that Allah is the All-Powerful?” Abdullah asked.  “He can do anything He wants to.”  He looked around the stream.  All the other boys had left.

“Come on,” he said. “Our mothers will be waiting for us to bring the water.”  I sighed and followed him back onto the dusty path.

The next day, when Abdullah and I were walking back from the stream, we heard noises coming from the center of the village.  The village center was where people gathered together for festivities and where children went for school.

“Why is there so much noise coming from the village center?” I asked.  “School is out for another few weeks and I can’t think of anything else that’s supposed to happen.”

“I don’t know,” Abdullah replied.  “It sounds like people talking in another language…maybe it’s English.”

“English?” I asked, surprised.  “What are English-speaking people doing here?”

“Let’s go find out!”  Abdullah sprinted ahead, water from his buckets sloshing everywhere.

“Abdullah!” I called loudly. “Where are you going?”

“Come on!” he yelled back.  I shook my head and grinned and then hurried after my friend.

When we reached the center of our village, we were astonished at what we saw.  A group of foreign-looking people were walking around, setting up tents, and talking.  A group of men were looking over a large piece of paper and some other men were measuring the ground with measuring tape.

“What’s going on?” I murmured to Abdullah.

“Let’s ask Zaid.  He knows some English.  Maybe he knows what’s going on.”  We rushed off to find our friend Zaid who we eventually found asking a man questions in broken English. He turned towards us excitedly and announced, “These Americans are making us a well!”

“A what?” Abdullah and I said at the same time.

“A well!” he said.  “It will have clean water for anyone in the village to use.  And do you know what?  Children in America raised the money for the men to build this well.”
Immediately I remembered the du’a I made the previous morning.  Had Allah answered my prayers already?  Was it possible that Amina could get better?

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “The man said that children in America, on behalf of the Zakat Foundation of America, did a lot of work for building a well here and they raised more than three thousand dollars!  They baked cookies and sold them at a fair.  Another time, they gathered their used toys and sold them in their neighborhoods. They even went from door to door asking people to donate money for our well.”

“Are you sure that’s what the man told you?” Abdullah asked doubtfully. “Your English isn’t that good.”

“How should you know how good my English is?” Zaid asked, pretending to form a pout.

“And yes, I am sure that’s what he said.  They’re even going to call the well a ‘Friendship Well’ and when it is finished, they will take a picture of it with all the kids in the village.  Then they’re going to send the pictures back to the kids in America who raised the money for us.”

“But how could kids raise three thousand dollars?” I asked. “That’s a lot of money.”

“I don’t think only a few people gave money,” Zaid said. “The kids told lots of people about the well they wanted to make so they’d give money.  And the man said that the kids even made small gifts and cards for the people who gave them more than five dollars.”

“Really?” I said.  “They worked really hard on this.”

My eyes began to water as I thought about my baby sister.  We were going to have clean water and she’d be able to get better!  I quickly wiped my happy tears away and excitedly pulled Abdullah, “Let’s go tell our parents!” We both dashed off and hurried to our homes.
Back at my house, Hamza was rolling up the cots.  Khalid was cooing over Amina. Our mother was sweeping the house, waiting for me to bring our water so she could start cooking.  Our father had already left for work.

“Guess what!” I yelled breathlessly, dropping the buckets onto the floor.

“What?” Hamza and Khalid looked up from what they were doing and watched me eagerly.

“People from America came to build us a well!” I said.  “We’ll have clean water to drink every day!”  I  explained everything that Zaid had told me.

Every day after that, Abdullah and I watched men fix our well.  First, they had to find a place where there was water underground that they could drill a hole in.  They had special tools to help them do that. Then they had to dig the hole and build the well.

Sometimes, Abdullah and I would bring Hamza and Khalid to watch.  Other times, we’d help the men out any way we could.

About six weeks later, the ‘friendship well’ was ready.  Our whole village came to the village center to thank the Zakat Foundation of America representatives for all their help.  That day, we all came home with buckets full of fresh, clean water.  As I sipped up the fresh, cold, life-saving drink, I smiled at Amina and bent down to kiss her on her cheek.  Allah had answered my prayers and now we had clean water to drink. I realized that people around the world do care about us and that they do want to help.  I had learned the importance of du’a and how it can really change people’s lives.  I felt ready to take on any more of life’s challenges because I knew Allah was always there to help me.

*.*.*

Nur writes on her web site: “My name is Nur Kose.  I am 13 years old. I love to read and write.” Nur likes to describe herself as an American, Turkish, and Bengali Muslim! Nur lives with her 4 siblings and parents in Newark, Delaware. Nur has authored and had published four books in her new children’s STAIRS series: Trouble with Babysitting¸ Allergy Attack, Time Machine, and Yusuf’s Robot. Her books are available at:   http://www.islamicbookstore.com/b11405.html

Nur Kose is the daughter of IWA member, Nayma Kose.

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 Extract from The Readers by Amina Malik

“We are readers, not writers. And we need your help.”

Aa’idah gazed blankly at the strange green worm who had introduced himself as Folio. She found herself falling into fathomless green eyes, which seemed to sparkle in the dim light coming from the candle on the ground. Folio was smiling at Aa’idah encouragingly. He was sitting on his on tail as he spoke.

As Aa’idah stared, Folio’s eyes seemed to change colour. They had begun as a forest green, darker than the leaves of the trees they were surrounded by. Now they were flecked with turquoise and then, before Aa’idah’s eyes, they changed slowly to sea green. Aa’idah could Folio’s eyes alter slowly behind his round glasses. As Aa’idah watched, transfixed, Folio’s eyes became liquid and gentle waves began rolling into one another. The waves became choppy, splashing into one another like the sea on a stormy night.

Before Aa’idah could drown in the choppy green waves, she began to see herself in the reflection of Folio’s glasses. A confused, round face – altogether more human – surrounded by thick, curly hair was looking back her. Aa’idah blinked and the curly round face blinked back at her. This was an odd creature. It was as if his eyes revealed a brilliant soul, full of knowledge.

“You must help us by writing more books for us” Folio insisted.

“But…but, I’m no writer!” Folio smiled graciously. “Yes you are. You write stories in school and the teachers ask you to read them to the smaller children.” Aa’idah stared silently at Folio. She thought of her school, which seemed so far away now. What would her teachers think if they could see this strange, big worm talking to her? Aa’idah wondered how Folio knew she read her stories to the First Years.

Understanding her expression Folio spoke again, “We saw you” he said.

“How? I mean where…when?”

“We were at your school. We have visited many times, to use your library.” Aa’idah couldn’t speak; she was even more perplexed. This strange little wormy thing had been at her school? And then she realised – there were more of them. Probably lots more.

“We always put books back” Folio added hastily, mistaking her confused expression for something else. “We just borrow them”.

“But why my school library? Why not the public library in town? It’s lovely and big, and full of all sorts of books!” Aa’idah was so excited remembering the library that she forgot all about the strange idea of the worms being at her school.

“The town library has a children’s section, with bright coloured seats and bright shelves!” Aa’idah explained happily. “There are books for little kids and books for a bit bigger ones, like me.  I’ve read nearly half of the books in the children’s section” Aa’idah said proudly.

Folio was smiling at her, nodding and not saying anything. “Erm…so why do you go to my school library?” she asked again.

“We like the children’s books” beamed Folio. “We’ve read all of the ones in the town library.” Aa’idah felt cross. She had read nearly half of them, and that was more than anyone she knew, apart from Mrs Iqbal, the librarian. How had the worms read them all? They must be much older, Aa’idah thought. She looked closely at Folio as he spoke, trying to guess how old he was. He was smaller in height than she was and he was wearing a striped t-shirt. His cheeks were round and chubby.

“We have to wait for new books to be brought in there so we…we…borrow the books from your library”. Folio looked uncomfortable and began twisting his tiny little green fingers together.

Aa’idah finally understood the problem. “Oh! Well, that’s ok! Books should always be shared”. She smiled to show Folio that everything was ok. Folio’s shoulders relaxed and he shuffled round and round in a circle excitedly, his tail wagging from side to side on the ground.

“I’m 9” announced Aa’idah.

“I’m 8 and a half” replied Folio “in human years. In Bookworm years I’m 8,465 years old”. There was that word again. Bookworm. Aa’idah had never heard of these strange creatures until Folio introduced himself. Green worms who borrowed books – and wore glasses and stripy t-shirts. This was all very odd. Aa’idah was sure she was dreaming.

“You’re like the Borrowers!” Aa’idah exclaimed, realising how very much like the Borrowers the worms must be. “Have you read The Borrowers?”

“Yes. It’s by Mary Norton. Shall we go then? Shall we go into the tree?” Folio asked her, eager to move. Aa’idah hesitated. “We have over one million books” Folio declared.

“What? A million?” Aa’idah wasn’t sure.How could that many books be stored in one tree? She looked at the tree carefully. It was a majestic oak with a thick, brown, knobbly trunk topped with hundreds of dark green leaves. No, a million books couldn’t fit in there. Not unless it was hollow inside and the books were stacked up really carefully inside, one on top of the other. And even then they might not fit, Aa’idah mused thoughtfully.

***

Aa’idah didn’t know how it happened. When did she agree that she would go into the tree? Why would she agree to go into the tree? It had all happened in such a blur, but there she was, following Folio into the ground at the base of the tree trunk. She had wanted to know what was in there. She wanted to see the other worms and how the books fit into the tree. But she felt afraid when Folio had pressed the tree trunk with his tiny green hand and then a hole at the base of the tree had opened up. But there she was all the same, following the green worm into the mysterious tree.

As Folio glided and Aa’idah stumbled along in the very dim light, Aa’idah realised that this was like another book she had read a long time ago, Alice in Wonderland. Aa’idah smiled to herself. Yes, she was just like Alice, following the rabbit down the rabbit hole.  She wondered if she would meet a Mad Hatter or a Queen of Hearts. Oh no, thought Aa’idah, I don’t want to meet a Queen of Hearts who will say “Off with her head!”

Aa’idah was so busy with her thoughts that she stumbled on a tree root. Folio was quick – he jerked his tail under her as Aa’idah’s feet flew out in front of her and she fell into a sitting position, cushioned from the ground. “Thanks!” she said jumping up. These worms were super-fast, Aa’idah thought. She tried to concentrate on walking, putting thoughts of having an adventure, like Alice, behind her.

Folio’s smooth, wormy tail and body seemed to glide over the earth but Aa’idah’s ballet pumps kept catching on stones and the roots of the tree. The other strange thing, Aa’idah realised suddenly, was that they were walking downwards. The decent was not sharp but they were definitely travelling down into the Earth. Aa’idah shuddered, suddenly afraid. Where was she going? But she felt safe with Folio – he was a little boy who liked books, just like her.

When they had stopped walking down and ever down, they began to walk in a straight line. Strange little lights appeared on the wall to her right, spread out at infrequent intervals. Aa’idah stopped to look at one. It was a crystal-like cone attached to the wall by a thin strip of metal. Where a bulb should have been was a small, sparkling flame. “Come, come Aa’idah!” called Folio. Aa’idah hurried on, noticing that soon she was flanked by cone-shaped lights on either side of her.

The walls of the tunnel were close together – plenty of space for a worm, but a little tight for Aa’idah. If Aa’idah stretched out her hands she could touch both sides at once. She had to do this several times as she tripped again and again over knotted roots, stones and – was that an anthill?

“Jump over it!” called Folio. Aa’idah obediently jumped as high as she could to avoid the anthill, hitting her head on the roof of the tunnel.

Folio glided back to her. “There was no need to jump so high” he said bluntly. Aa’idah was rubbing her head. “Yes, I know. I just wanted to avoid squashing the ants.”

“Why?” asked Folio, gliding away, leaving Aa’idah to catch up with him.

“I just remember that story, of Suleiman alayhisalam when I see ants. So I always try to be careful.” Folio stopped abruptly and Aa’idah would have crashed into him if it was not for the fact that he was so far ahead of her, because of his speedy gliding. “I don’t know that story” he mused quietly, looking at the book in his hand. “Who is Suleiman?”

“He is a prophet, on him be peace. I read about him in Quran Stories for Little Hearts”, huffed Aa’idah as she jogged to catch up to Folio.

“On him be peace”, murmured Folio solemnly, nodding. Aa’idah didn’t think that Folio knew what that mean but before she could ask; “Come, come. We mustn’t be late”, and he was gliding into the distance before Aa’idah could respond. Just like the white rabbit, thought Aa’idah. As they continued Aa’idah noticed that they were gliding and jogging past another tunnel to the right. “What’s down there?” she asked, pointing.

“Ah, I will show you one day, I promise” Folio said. They continued on and without warning the narrow walls of the tunnel opened up to a huge underground cavern.

The sight before Aa’idah’s eyes was astonishing. The tunnel opened up to a room so big that she couldn’t see the end of it, but the walls were adorned with more crystal, cone-shaped lights and everywhere she looked, Aa’idah could see worms. Worms, worms and more worms. Some were gliding, some carrying books, some reading books and some talking to others about books. It was an incredible sight. There was a buzz of activity everywhere.  Baskets woven out of thin tree branches and twigs and held together with mud and leaves were being pulled up and down the height of the tree in front of Aa’idah’s eyes. The baskets were full of books. Aa’idah tried to read the titles as the baskets shot upwards to worms waiting at the top. “The Twits”, she read. Aa’idah knew that book. She loved it.

Aa’idah couldn’t tell if they were now in the centre of another oak tree but it certainly looked like it. Except the tree is ginormous! Aa’idah thought, her eyes whirling as she tried to follow the worms as they moved around.

“Now Aa’idah”, Folio spoke again solemnly, “we need your help.” He suddenly stopped and the word “help” seemed to be suspended in mid-air. “But I’m only little. I’m not an author”.

“Aa’idah, you write the best stories we have ever read. We have kept your stories in a safe place at the very heart of the Ancient Tree.”

“Mine? But why?”

“Because we love them. And we need your help in writing more. This is what we bookworms live for – wonderful stories. And I have brought you here to show you why we need you to write more.”

This story is due to be published online in full in late 2012.

< End of 2012 Spring Edition of IWA Magazine>

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2011 Fall Edition of IWA Magazine

Adamby Amatullah Al-Marwani

(c) Amina Malik @ MY Lusankar (London)

 “Isn’t that beautiful, honey?”

Caught off guard, she quickly turns her head to take in the scene before them. Laughing children with sandy feet and sunny smiles spin themselves dizzy on the merry-go-round. Even the crusty souls taking up residence on the benches lining the playground wear faces less etched by frowns of displeasure and more softened by fleeting memories of joyful youth.

“Mmm…yes, yes, beautiful,” she replies, her reverie lingering in wisps and tatters. She brushes a hand across her face, deftly tucking loose strands of hair back into her hijab. If only she could whisk away her interrupted thoughts as easily!

Her gaze scans the park, zeroing in without fail on their own addition to the festivities of this summer’s day. He is busy pulling the petals off the bushy flowers potted within kid-friendly reach.

“Adam! Adam, stop hurting the flowers, love, and come here to Mama!”

The toddler looks up, eyes engaged in finding the known voice, hands engaged in exploring the unknown dirt under his grubby touch. His grin requires an antidote, it is so infectious. She catches it and spreads it to her husband.

“That’s our boy!” Expressing emotion doesn’t come easy to this man but he is overflowing with it now. “Masha’Allah, Aminah, that’s our boy!”

She averts her eyes, unable to bear his contentment, his peace. She continues to carry the smile, but now it is the heavy weight of mere reflex, automatic defense mechanism. Her thoughts sweep her away once more as they did when she answered the phone that morning…

“Yes, this is Aminah, Adam’s mother. Who’s calling, please?”

Her palm grips the receiver in a hold that would leave tell-tale marks long after Adam is gone. As she listens in disbelief to the droning voice of the doctor on the other end, she could not know how often she will finger those marks in the future, tracing and re-tracing the imprints left on the day she learned her life didn’t stop just because her heart did.

But that was yet to come and she is here now, with her adoring and blissfully unaware husband. And of course, with her heart. With Adam.

It would be eight months before his smile faded, before the colors of the world dimmed for her. Eight months of learning to let go, to cry in the shower so the tears would melt away with the water, to impart hope from her meager supply, to trust in Allah’s plans of mercy and eternal beauty…eight months to say good-bye and a lifetime to wait.

It would be eight months before his tears would no longer need soothing by her gentle shushing, eight months before his bed would stay made the whole day…and the whole night. It would be until her own last moment before she would forget cradling him in her arms, willing with all her might to disbelieve so she could rant and rave and tear at her empty chest in searing grief. A lifetime to beg forgiveness from the One who must surely know her heart was being ripped from her soul while she still drew breath.

It would be eight months of beauty, the kind one only knows from pain—the more intense the latter, the more lasting the former.

Memories of Adam’s ‘I’m awake, I’m really awake!’ grin every time his dad took him out for the Fajr prayer would overcome those of the distant hollowness his eyes later took and held.

Memories of Adam’s tiny nursling coos, gently drawing life from her life would overcome those of the drug-induced coma neither cuddles nor could cries pierce.

Memories of the baby fresh smell of Adam’s skin would overcome those of the hospital disinfectant wrapping him in its silent shroud.

Memories of the eager to go-go-go little man would overcome those of the swaddled and intubated lifeless form she kissed for the final time.

The son she’d cherished for the immemorial span of two years would overcome the loss no human effort could sate.

Beauty is eternal but only fools and the blind wait that long before appreciating it. A lesson she learned in eight months. A lesson she learned in one phone call. A lesson she needs to share with her husband and with her son. Adam.

“Aminah? Honey? Would you look at that kid! Isn’t he something? Isn’t he? Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than our son, Subhan’Allah?”

On some level, Allah grants wisdom and surety of passage to every soul in need. She is a vessel, filling up and pouring out this strength. “No, my dearest. I haven’t. And I won’t again until we reach Jennah.”

Adam loses interest in the dirt and comes toward them, weaving and waving muddy fingers. The breeze catches his curls and lifts them in a quirky dance. He stops and looks intently at his parents, his lifelines. The tableau freezes in her mind, every detail captured, right down to the untied double-knotted shoestring he is always managing to undo.  He places his chubby hand on his lips and blows them a kiss, his most recent and endearing baby ‘trick’. It doesn’t miss and is big enough for both of them to share forever. If this isn’t beauty, what is?

“Adam…” her voice breaks slightly. “Adam, come on, honey. Let’s get you ready to go, sweetheart. We all have to go home, soon.”

* * *

In November of 2004, Sister Amatullah wrote, “As-Salaamu Alaikum, This is the saddest piece I’ve ever written because, at one time, it seemed to bear the ring of truth for me and my family.  I am thankful that is no longer true.”

 Hakim and the Special Letter by Yahiya Emerick

A breeze as sharp as a razor grazed past Hakim’s forehead. Startled, he stopped to catch his breath.  He had been running off-and-on for over four hours now and needed a break. But it wasn’t the running that bothered him so much. It was trying to keep from tripping over roots and ruts on the slim mountain trail he had to travel over. At dusk when he left his little mountain village, he hadn’t suspected that his journey would be this hard. He had to travel by night so his parents wouldn’t know he left.

After the umpteenth bruise, he began to question the wisdom of that  decision. Three weeks ago a fire damaged one of the houses in the village. But not just any person’s house, it was the home of the Sheikh and teacher of the town. The fire was not a bad one, but it had burned up the only real treasure the people had, an old copy of the Holy Qur’an– the Qur’an that the Sheikh would read to the people in the morning after Fajr prayer. He would translate the meaning as he went, and although his Arabic wasn’t perfect, he could get the basic meaning across to the brothers and sisters. Many people would have gladly traded places in the burning hut to save that special book, the only one they had.

Hakim, who loved Allah dearly, cried when he first heard what happened. He had learned so many surahs, or chapters, and was the Sheikh’s favorite student. After the shock wore off, Hakim made the secret promise to Allah that if He would help him bring another Qur’an to the village, then he would memorize the whole book and become a hafiz!

So Hakim secretly asked the Sheikh’s wife to write a letter requesting a Qur’an from whomever Hakim could find outside their mountain home. It was this letter that Hakim carried in his pocket and this mission that burned in his heart like liquid steel.

The close of night definitely affected his progress. Twice he slid down slippery trails that at times felt more like wet sheepskin than rock. He had never been away from home so far before and wondered what the world was really like. The older men, who sometimes left for trade, told stories of a world of fantastic machines and huge villages, but Hakim was never sure if he should believe them or not. Now he would find out for himself if what they said was true.

He had brought several shirts along with him to protect against the cold, but Hakim found that the further he descended the less chilly he felt. He stopped for a moment, looked up into the night sky, and saw the stars as bright as mini-suns flung across a ceiling. Not a cloud passed over to ruin his spectacular view of Allah’s universe. He stood captivated, wondering if he would see a comet chasing away some Jinns in the sky.

Although he stared intently, he couldn’t see any streaks of light this time. Instead, the sounds of walking and rocks moving from far below him startled him from his day-dreaming. Someone was coming up the trail toward him! Quickly, Hakim scrambled off the trail and hid behind an outcropping of rock. One could never be too safe on the trail, for bandits were well known in this part of the world.

The stranger approached slowly, for the trail was so strewn with small rocks and jagged ruts that one really had to move carefully. As he moved closer in the dim starlight, Hakim made out the figure of a man holding the reigns of a pack-mule, laden with supplies. The man appeared to be middle-aged and wore a large leather shirt of some sort. He was humming something, though Hakim couldn’t quite make it out.

As the man passed by the portion of the trail where Hakim was hiding, he stopped abruptly and poked around in front of him with his foot. “What was he doing?” thought Hakim. Then to his horror, Hakim saw the man pick up one of the shirts he brought to keep him warm. He must have dropped it when he scampered off the trail. The man held it up, turned it around and examined it. Then he shouted, “Okay, who’s out there? Come on, come out! I won’t hurt you.

Hakim’s heart pounded. There was no feeling in his hands, and his body felt heavy. “This must be a bandit,” he thought. “What would he do to me?” raced his frightened mind, “Will he kill me and take my clothes? Will they find my body in a hole like they did poor old Azim’s last year?” Hakim was terrified. He held onto the rock so tightly that he broke a small piece off which fell with a sharp ping on the ground near him.

The man turned his face in Hakim’s direction and peered into the dim shadows of stone. “Come out of there,” the man said, “I know there’s someone there!” Hakim called out in a weak voice, “Asalamu alaikum.” The man paused a moment and replied in an overly-sweet voice, “Wa alaikum assalam.” Hakim then stood up from his shelter and explained, “My name is Hakim. I was unsure about who you were, so I hid myself.”

Come here, boy,” the man growled. “Don’t you know that you must respect your elders?” Hakim obeyed automatically as respect for his elders was ingrained in him like his nervous system. He straddled the few obstacles between him and the trail and approached the man.  Hakim began to feel more at ease and relaxed his tense body.

What should he fear from another Muslim brother, anyway?

But suddenly the man pulled out a long knife and snarled, “And don’t you know that these hills are filled with – bandits!” Hakim nearly lost his footing and flung his arms in the air. He turned to run but tripped over the leg of the man who lunged forward to grab him. The man took Hakim by his shirt and put the tip of the knife into Hakim’s back and said, “Now get up slowly.” Hakim regained his feet cautiously and raised himself up, a little at a time.

Now empty your pockets,” the man then ordered. Hakim proceeded to pull out everything he brought with him: a few coins, a small cloth, a tiny pocket blade, a wrapped piece of goats-milk cheese and the letter. “Is that all?” the man grumbled.

“Yes. I’m just a mountain boy on my way to the place of the big villages. Please don’t hurt me. I have an important mission.”

“A mission!” laughed the cruel bandit, “What can a mountain boy have to do that is so important?  I might just kill you for fun!

Hakim flinched his right shoulder and felt fear rising up in him like a hand trying to squeeze the air out of his lungs.  Silently he said to himself, “Allah protect me.”

Hakim stood there and watched as the bandit deftly took out some kind of a flint and candle and lit it with one hand. The other hand held the long knife, pointed threateningly at Hakim.  The bandit then proceeded to inspect the sum of Hakim’s possessions with a very disappointed look on his face.

Slowly, Hakim sat down when the bandit did so as well. The bandit opened the cheese and started to munch on it as he held the pocket-blade up to the light. He dropped it carelessly to the ground and picked up Hakim’s folded letter.

What’s this?” He demanded, “A treasure map or something?

Hakim hesitated for a moment and replied, “Well, yes, in a way.”

“What do you mean in a way? demanded the bandit, “Here. Read it to me because I can’t read.”

He flung the paper to Hakim who caught it carefully. Hakim opened the letter and shifted his body closer to the bandit, so he could take advantage of the candle-light. Hakim started to read. At first his voice quivered, but as the words of the letter recalled to his mind why he was there, his tone steadied and gained strength.

May the peace of Allah fill the dark corners of all our lives.

Where there is hope in Allah there is happiness. Where there is no hope in Allah there is pain and sadness. And even though we still hope in Allah, we are yet a little sad, for the one treasure of our village has been taken in a fire to test our faith. We declare our faith is true and will remain strong. All we ask is that the light of our lives be returned to us.  We ask that Allah bring joy to our hearts once more as we recite His words anew.

O please, anyone who receives this letter, please allow the boy to return to us with a copy of the Book of Light – that same Book which can change a person’s life forever. We will hold forever in our hearts the name of the person who bestows upon us this gift. We pray for the reward and love of Allah upon the one who returns to us this treasure which lights our hearts and shows us the way in the darkness.

May Allah guide you, always.

A simple villager.

When Hakim finished the letter he looked up to find tears streaming down the bandit’s face. The candle-light made his weeping seem as if rivers of silver ran from his eyes. Dropping his knife, he lowered his head into his hands and cried and cried and cried.

Hakim was puzzled at the sight but felt moved by his sorrow and let fall a few tears of his own. He slowly shifted closer to the bandit and placed his arm around his shoulder. The bandit tilted his head into Hakim’s chest and continued to weep as if he had lost someone he loved very much.

After some moments, under the stars and in the light of a tiny candle, the bandit began to speak, but this time in softer tones, with no harshness. “My father…” he paused, “My father called the Qur’an the book which brought him peace. He was the finest man. He always was good to me, but I wanted to go my own way, to be my own man.  I did so many bad things.” The bandit paused a moment and pushed back his sobs.

“I made him feel so bad.  He thought he failed with me.  He used to read the Qur’an when I came home late after getting into fights and stealing. He was so calm. He never told me to get out or to leave. He just kept reading his Qur’an and telling me he still loved me.” More tears poured out from the bandit’s eyes, and he rubbed his face with his hand. Then he pulled away from Hakim and sat upright.

“When he became sick he asked me to bring him his Qur’an in bed, so he could read it. I told him I would but then went away looking for trouble again. When I got home, I went to check on my father, but I found my father dead…. he was dead! He died, and I didn’t bring him the only thing that brought joy to his life. I failed him after he was so patient with me. I felt like the worst animal on the surface of the earth. I couldn’t face my relatives; I couldn’t stand at his funeral prayer. I had to get away. The one thing I took was his Qur’an. I made a promise to myself that one day I would honor my father’s spirit. That one day, somehow, I would make up for my miserable little life.”

The bandit was silent for a moment. He gazed into Hakim’s face and saw the boy that he once was. The boy he could have been so long ago. Hakim stared back into the aged and worn eyes. Eyes that had been too long from peace, too troubled by an inner pain of the worst kind: the pain of betrayal. Abruptly, the bandit rose to his feet. He walked over to his pack-mule and rummaged through his bags for a moment.

When he returned to where Hakim sat, he lowered himself on his knees and handed a worn-out old copy of the Qur’an to Hakim. Hakim took it in his hands, but for an instant, both the man and the boy looked into each other’s eyes, and a healing that could almost be seen passed between them. “I’m sorry. It’s kind of beat-up.” said the bandit.

Hakim took the bandit’s hand, held it, and replied, “No amount of time can erase or damage the words of the One Who knows the secrets of our souls.” The bandit grabbed Hakim in his arms and hugged him tightly.

When he released his grip, he swiftly turned toward his pack-mule, took up its straps and disappeared back down the trail into the midnight world of the dark. Hakim stood still for a moment. He was no longer a boy. “Allah is the Greatest,” he said softly, “There is no power and there is no might save in Allah.”

And as he turned to go, he remembered that he never asked the bandit for his name.

2011 Summer Ramadan Edition of IWA Magazine

Islamic Fiction Stories

 Dear Diary – Zeneefa Zaneer

 Bismillah!

Assalamu Alaikum,

Dear Diary,

It’s always a pleasure to unfold you and pen down my thoughts. You have been my best friend ever since I could put two words together and make a sentence. Reading back what I’ve written years ago brings back the lost smile. How beautiful the days are? I enjoyed my life for twenty four years, SubhanAllah! Twenty four years…quite a long time hah!

Everyone around me began to mourn, as I am a small kid.

“Too young!”

I heard them whisper. My lips curved and I smiled to myself. Am I too young? For what? Die, of course what else? Huh! Worried? Not a single bit. I know it hurts them. I saw how my mom was grieving, dad tried to hide his emotions. Yet I could read them, for I’ve been with them for so long time.

True, it is not my fault…still death has to have a reason. I can remember when I first learned about the disease I’m carrying now. HIV Aids! How scary it was just to learn about it? It could be a nightmare, yes true it is a nightmare.

Nope, I’m not crying…it’s just…er…dust…oh! Sorry I’ve spoiled a page with a tear. That’s not new for you, how many times I’ve wetted your pages with my tears for worthless reasons? I cried for my lost pencil, I cried for being the second in the class in my fifth grade, I cried for being fighting with my best friend when I was fourteen, and I cried when my mom questioned why I was late after school, hmm…I cried when my secret crush married someone else, why I’ve cried many times after watching SRK’s heart touching love stories, where he fought for someone else’s woman in every film of his!

Every time you helped me to ease my pains, before you absorbed my tears into your pages you consoled me. Do the same now, will you?

No, I’m not scared to die; it is better, peaceful than living. But…it looks scary too. What will happen to me? My body? Will it be a peaceful death? How will I feel when the angel of the Death meets me? Will he look scary? Will he be polite when he sucks my soul out? What will my parents do? Will they grieve? Sure they will, but what will I do? Just watch what happens?

Will it be true, the tortures of the grave as I learned when I was small? Will I be able to answer the questions asked by the Angels of Grave? No matter how smart I was at school, answering the questions for math and science, I’m sure I’m going to fail in this. What good have I done in my life? I accepted it is one God Allah, I witnessed He’s my Lord. I was too smart when arguing with my non Muslim friends to prove He’s the only One God but yet I, in person forgot to worship Him. Prayers were not necessary for me then, what mattered was what is in my heart. What was in my heart? Nothing worth was in it. If I was true and honest and wasn’t a hypocrite then I should have bowed my head before Him, but how many times I’ve skipped my prayers, forcefully trying to pretend as I forgot. When it was Ramadhan I observed fast, yet my eyes were locked in silver screen. It was boring, that was my answer.

I draped my shawl around my neck just representing Muslims. I thought wearing a Hijab was meant for extra beauties to hide their beauty. But who are those extra beauties? Aishwarya Rai or Angelina Jolie? But still they don’t hide their beauty so who am I? I’m just somebody.

I spent so much time in front of my mirror wondering who do I look like, uff! How gorgeous they are, why didn’t I be pretty and smart like them, so my secret admire never would have set his eyes on someone else? I tinted my beautiful hair, I straightened my wavy hair and did all kind of crazy stuff to it…and just walked on street shamelessly.

“Huh! So that’s what she has done at her university? How many times I have told you not to send female child to those places…kitchen! That’s their place…you tried to change the way and see the result…? Everyone is laughing!”

Hmm…that was my aunt; I heard her blaming my mom. Islam doesn’t say kitchen is the only place where a female child can use her talents with, I wanted to say. hmmm…knowledge only meant for books and used aimed as exam targets. never been followed or spent much time to open the Book of Allah. So how can i argue with her?

Anyway what do you think about my aunts point of view? No! That’s not true. True when I was a teen I fell in love with a guy, but he never fell over for me. We never have spoken to each other. My mom tried to explain my aunt about my illness. But she’s not a person to listen. Let everyone talk, I don’t care. It is not my fault!

It’s my adversity that I had to face an accident and went through a difficult time. That’s how I got this, by blood transition. Who cares now about how I got it when the virus has already over powered me? Wish I lost my life there, than going through a painful process physically and mentally like this.

“Don’t let stray dogs in, they carry dangerous bugs in them!”

Our neighbor has put on a board on their wall, I saw it yesterday. My name wasn’t mentioned anywhere, yet knowing them, I knew it was for me, they put it up for me. I heard the woman next door scream that particular sentence many times to her daughter when I went out to pick my dried clothes, or stopped to smile to my friend, her daughter. You know it hurts, when people blame like this? I wasn’t responsible for any such kind they are assuming. Yet I feel guilty now, for in a way I am responsible. I watched the movies which contained haram attitudes and behavior of men and women, even at least with a smaller amount, even a simple touch. I read romance books, American romance, and little romance before marriage is okay kind of stories. Buying such books, watching such movies added another fan to the movie makers and story tellers. Unknowingly I gave credits to them to keep on producing such things and have promoted their idea. Now I’m a victim of someone’s error.

Oh! I know I’m dying. I feel sad to leave everything beside, yet I feel sad to see what I’m going to carry with me. It looks empty. I’m sorry I’m wetting you. I can’t move my fingers for it trembles. Same like my soul. How am I going to face Allah? What would be my destiny? How am I going to meet Prophet Muhammad (SAW) seeking help on the day of Judgment?

Until now I never realized this truth, that there will be a day of meeting of my Creator. Oh yeah! I witnessed, said it louder and wrote in bold letters, faith! Believing in Allah, Angels, books, prophets, life after death and day of judgment …yet it all taken as a fairy tale. I pushed away my faith for a while and followed the motto of my own, live and enjoy until the death. Life is short, make it sweet. To enjoy and make it sweet I accepted the glamorous worldly needs. Walked along that path, yet called myself as a Muslim.

Oh! Allah! Forgive me, I’m a loser. But yet you showed mercy upon me. You gave me a dead line; you’ve informed me that the Angel of Death will visit me soon, inshaAllah. You’ve given me time to repent. Thank you Allah! I’m lucky for having few precious minutes to spend for Your sake before I die.

Good bye my friend, my dear diary! Until today I have been carrying you everywhere I went, I have been too choosy, spent more time in selecting the best and wondering what to leave behind when I pack my luggage to go to my university hostel. But now, I have to leave everything beside…no choice left! *sigh*.

What am I doing writing on you, you are helpless? What on earth I was doing all these days, when my Creator was waiting until I repented? How silly I’ve been pouring all my troubles on you when you can’t do anything. How silly I was when there’s the One who can do everything, I just forgot about seeking His help? How silly I was that knowing death is for sure, and will arrive anytime in my life, yet I forgot the truth?

Whether I liked it or not he, the Malakal Mouth will visit me. I’m running short of time. Thank you for being beside me. I’ve to repent. I want to ask forgiveness from Allah Almighty. May Allah forgive me and everyone else on earth and bring them under the shade of light while keeping out the greatest enemy of our path, guiding us through the path of righteous men walked, protecting from the pains of death and torments of the grave, and may accept us warmly to the Jannah, help us not fall onto the blazing Hellfire, Amen!

It’s me, your temporary owner!

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 Month of Blessing and Abundance – Lasisi Yusuf

 Ibrahim threw the brown envelope that contained his dismissal letter on the table. He sat wearily on his sofa. He did not even seek his daughter Rali. He was very sad – just as he felt when Zainab, Rali’s mother left him. He wanted to be alone. He could hear somebody speaking with a megaphone in the compound. He was sure Abubakr, Uthman’s uncle, had organized another in-house lecture, but what for?

To avoid people, he had sneaked into his apartment through the back door. Rali was outside sitting with the listeners.

“We welcome another blessed month of Ramadan,” the lecturer continued.

“Ramadan!” Ibrahim exclaimed.

“.. and we pray that we live to observe it in good faith. Qur’an says ‘O ye who believe fasting is prescribed for you as it were prescribed for those who lived before you.”

Ibrahim was mad with rage. He stood up angrily and closed his windows and doors because he did not want to hear the man speak again.

“How on earth could I lose my job today and a man says a blessed month approaches? A blessed month or a terrible month? He said fasting is prescribed for believers. I am no believer,” he paused. “Leave me alone!” He shouted and continued. “I wonder if all those who sit there are all believers. If all of them are saints, Uthman is an exception. He is my co-worker and drinker too.”

Ibrahim was frustrated by hearing that the month was close by. He lost his job. Uthman would not be available to drink with, for some weeks. He had no savings to take care of his needs and that of his daughter. Club houses would be scanty and brothels would not be vibrant for the next few weeks.

Rali ran inside screaming, “Dad welcome. I was outside listening to a sermon. Ramadan is around the corner. Are we going to observe it this time?”

“Yes my dear,” he answered and thought, Not because I love it but because I just lost my job and I’m broke.  “When is it starting?” He asked.

“In two days’ time. Uncle Uthman is outside listening to sermon. Daddy will you buy hijab for me? I want to pray with Fatimah but I don’t have one.”

“Rali, I am in no mood to engage in this talk. Go to your room.”

Rali quietly went to her room.

 *.*.*

“Your daughter told me that you want to fast this Ramadan and you promised to buy her a new hijab?” Abubakr, the Muallam in the compound asked.

Ibrahim could not deny it. He truly told Rali, but he didn’t mean it.

“That was a very good decision. Uthman told me that you also lost your job and you are broke. You can join us for Sahur and Iftar every day. Try to observe your five daily prayers and pray that Allah should provide you a better job. I will be waking you up at the time of Sahur.”

“Thank you,” Ibrahim answered reluctantly.

He wished Uthman was around. He wanted to scold him for telling Abubakr that he had lost his job. He did not know that Rali would also tell Abubakr that he was going to fast.

It became clear to Ibrahim that he was going to observe the Ramadan fast. He had no money to buy food and free food would only come in the early morning and at sun-set.

“This is a very big punishment. I have never fasted in my life. God save me.”

Abubakr ensured that food was sent to Ibrahim’s flat for Sahur and for Iftar each day.

All the Muslims in the compound gathered to break their fast with fruits, observed Maghrib and Ishah together, and everyone then ate dinner together before returning to their homes.to sleep.

He did not drink alcohol for two weeks. He had listened to sermons on various topics. He knew he had sinned so much. His wife Zainab left him because he was a drunk. He had beaten her times without number for no reason. He once had lots of girlfriends and his fat daily earnings were always expended on wine and women. He could not do without both daily.

Now things were different. He was living his life as a Muslim. He was getting closer to Allah. He was always reading Qur’an and praying. He had food to eat and some money to spend courtesy of Abubakr. He prayed to Allah to provide a better job for him.

As Ramadan approached its end, he was recalled back at his working place. He apologized to his boss and promised to be of good behavior. He was dismissed on the account of negligence of duty which cost the company a huge loss. He was actually drunk the day the incident happened. He vowed never to go back to his sins.

Abubakr prepared his Zakat’l fitr and was hoping to give it to Ibrahim.

“I know you will want to give part of your Zakat’l fitr to me, but you don’t have to bother. I was recalled at my working place. We will give them to the needy so that we will all celebrate the Eid in abundance. Ramadan is not just a month of blessing but of abundance. I pray we don’t go back to our sins again,” Ibrahim prayed and Uthman smiled and said “Amen.”

“Uncle, I was also a drunk, but Insha Allah, we are not going back to it again.” Uthman confessed.

“I prayed it is so,” Abubakr answered.

*.*.*

Ibrahim rested on the rail of his balcony and reminisced.

It was just two days before another Ramadan. He had saved and built a house. Zainab was in the garden coaxing a new born baby to sleep, because she was back in his home two months after he became a Muslim.

From the author: “May this coming month hold blessings and abundance for us, Amen.”

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Islamic Fiction: A Worthwhile Struggle – Yahiya Emerick

Back when I embraced Islam as a bright-eyed youth twenty years ago, there wasn’t much with an Islamic flavor available in the fiction and literature department.  At the time, I didn’t really notice it for I was tearing into every book on seerah, hadith and aqeedah that I could lay my hands on.  It was a brave new world that I entered.  Likewise, religious writings were a new type of subject matter for me, given that for my entire life before that I was a big fan of science fiction/fantasy literature.   Ah, the heady days of the new convert: zeal, enthusiasm and the fuzzy promise of the perfect world just over the horizon!  Life is so simple for the one-track mind.

At some point, I started getting involved in youth activities, camps and classes.  I began as a Sunday school teacher in a masjid and then eventually graduated to summer schools, youth camps and youth clubs.  By 1992, I was a full time teacher in an Islamic school.  (This is not at all an unusual track for a convert to follow.)  Along the way, I began to realize something: even as the youth were learning from some pretty boring textbook materials, they had absolutely zero reading literature that reflected any type of Muslim identity.  In vain, I searched through the catalogs of Muslim booksellers for stuff I could recommend to those precocious little readers who seemingly devoured every Goosebumps or Baby-Sitters Club book they could find.  There were a few small books available, but they were mostly directed toward little kids, or they were so polemic and obviously “guided reading” that they had no appeal to the youth.

At about the same time, I felt compelled to begin writing some short stories I could share with the youth.  I had never been a writer before, but I did have a very active and creative mind, honed by many years of reading sci-fi and playing Dungeons and Dragons.  By the winter of 1992, I had enough stories and poems to put together a small book.  I entitled it, The Seafaring Beggar and Other Tales. A brother who worked at the Islamic school (the bus driver) worked on the side for a small xerox-type shop, and he offered to print 300 copies for me for $400 dollars.  I was on cloud nine!  When the books came back, they were not printed very well, but I didn’t care.  I was so happy to see something I wrote in print that a little seed of hope was planted in my mind.  Maybe I could write for Muslims and give them something they would enjoy.  But then I hit a brick wall.

I thought the Muslims around me, especially the activist types would be happy to get something for their kids to read that had some kind of an Islamic flavor.  I thought the youth would be enthused at the same time. Neither happened.  I offered my book to everyone I knew for a mere $3.  No takers.  Then I lowered the price to $2.  I think I sold two copies.  By the end of the week, I was just giving the books away to anyone who would take them.  To this day not a single person ever told me they read it and/or enjoyed it.  That was almost fifteen years ago.  But I didn’t give up.  I never felt there was anything wrong with my writing style.  Heck, I liked reading my own writing.  So I had to look for other explanations.  I’ll get back to that in a moment.

The following year I paid the same brother to publish a small hadith book I assembled.  Then I started work on another book I called: How to Tell Others About Islam.  I thought that these non-fiction titles would have more appeal.  I certainly didn’t want to give up on my fiction writing, though.  I even entertained the fantasy that one day I might be able to make a living through writing.  (I’m still nowhere near that dream, even after finishing 25 books and even a new Qur’an translation!)  Well, I had the same problem: I had to beg people to get my books.  Enter more speculation on the eternal question: why don’t Muslims buy books?

Then I moved to New York in 1995.  I got a job at an Islamic school there, and found that the kids were bored with their history lessons, so I began to use my imagination to weave tales that would connect them to the subject at hand.  One day I started a yarn about one “Ahmad Jones” and how he discovered spectacular archeological treasures.  I guess I got carried away and turned it into a full-fledged tale that was so compelling – I sat down one week during a vacation and wrote a whole short novel about him.  I realized that I didn’t like using Jones as his last name, so I changed it to “Ahmad Deen” (after one of my best student’s last names.)  Thus, Ahmad Deen and the Curse of the Aztec Warrior was born.  I found a local Korean printer to print it (300 copies for about $700) and I began to offer it to people.  The kids in the school loved it.  I was so happy.  I mean, there really was nothing with an Islamic flavor for them to read even by then, and to hear their excitement and love of the book confirmed to me that more was needed.

In a mad rush I did a longer Ahmad Deen book (The Jinn at Shaolin), a Layla Deen book, and then I rewrote an existing story (Isabella) in better English with a more streamlined plot.  I published them all cheaply at the local Korean shop and then started renting booth space at Muslim conventions to try to get them “out there.”  For anyone who has ever tried to sell something in a convention bazaar “may Allah reward us for our patience.”  The Muslim consumer is a hard-to-convince cookie.  Beyond the automatic skepticism that a Muslim seems to be born with by nature, the seeming need to haggle for every little dime is unnerving at best and downright frustrating at worst.  (I explained to one brother who was trying to haggle a price below my cost that I would wind up paying him to take the book.  He apologized and said it was “sunnah” to haggle every price.  He wound up getting the book at below my cost, simply because I was so disgusted at that moment I just wanted to give everything away and go home!)

I expended so much effort in the mid-Nineties in promoting these books and lost so much money doing so that I wondered aloud how Muslims could ever hope to have a voice of their own in the bookstores of America.  I actually had many parents discouraging their children from purchasing books from my table with reasons that ranged from “don’t you want a candy instead” to “why buy a book? You read it only once and throw it away.”  I realized then that many of these parents, who came from other countries, never really grew up reading fiction themselves.  That was my eureka moment, and I steeled myself for the long struggle.  The immigrant parents just didn’t know the value of Islamic fiction because they didn’t have much of it when they were young.  In the West, youth literature is everywhere.  Perhaps the next generation, which was exposed to this phenomenon, would be more open to Islamic fiction for their own children!

It wasn’t all bad news at the conventions, however.  Some people did buy my fiction books, and after some years, enough people came back and complimented my writing to give me hope that even immigrant Muslims really did want better reading choices for their children, even if it would be delayed by a generation.  Well, I got sidetracked by non-fiction again, and for the last ten years I’ve been concentrating on textbooks and such, but soon I want to go back permanently into fiction and literature “my first love.”

When I go into Barnes and Noble or Borders and see the youth section, any kid would want to become a reader after seeing all the diverse offerings there.  As you know, reading helps to form our attitudes about the world, so the content is as important as the cover.  When you look at what the young adult and pre-teen books are about they’re all about magic, witchcraft, dating, “troubled” youth and more.  To this day, I’m shocked by how ignorant some of our Muslim parents are when it comes to what their children are reading and “oh, they love it when their kids are reading books by non-Muslim authors!”  Suddenly, the concern that books are only read once and thrown away is forgotten about.

I know of so many Muslim authors who have as much passion about providing good literature for our youth as I do.  Each of them is struggling as to whether they should compromise with the non-Muslim world and remove the Islam from the books making them mere “ethnic” tales.  Islamic fiction should be a reflection of the dual world that Muslim youth are growing up in.  They should see something of themselves in the narratives, even as the presence of the non-Muslim world is acknowledged.   Too many youth are being raised on a diet of literature that has no mention of Islam or Muslim values, and that contains everything Muslims abhor.

You have to decide what kind of child you want to have.  Do you want your kid to live out some perverse fantasy of yours, of being assimilated and completely “accepted” by the non-Muslim world, to be just another loyal and compliant “ethnic” on the cheerleading squad or at the bar?  (Ah, the deep sense of inferiority is ever-present in some!)   Do you want your kid to be ghettoized and cut off from the wider world, embittered, angry and without imagination?  Or do you have no real plan and just let the winds blow your child where they may?  Yeah, Islam is the truth, you say, but I want my kid to be rich and successful, even as they carry on my cherished ethnic traditions.  (Whither Islam, then?)  In the end, you may not get any of those things from them.

The youth are a work in progress.  The young mind absorbs information, molds itself to various stimuli and experiments with different identities.  If a Muslim child gets no exposure to Islam in their hours of reading pleasure, then Islam never enters their imagination.  Instead, non-Muslim values will occupy that space.  They may appear outwardly “Muslim” but inwardly they have no real allegiance to Islam.  Ponder upon these things, and then support your children by supporting Muslim fiction.  How do you do this?  That’s simple: buy fiction books written by Muslim authors and slip them on your kid’s bookshelf!  Let Islam have a part in their imagination and you plant a seed of the possible that may produce some truly satisfying results in later generations.

Originally published in the July/August edition of IQRA Newspaper 2008, Page 6, September 21, 2008.

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2011 Spring Edition of IWA Magazine

Saladin and the Eyes of Syria© 2011 Soumyana

Syria – 12th Century CA

When the boy was growing up, like all Arabs since ancient times, he was taught the deeds of courageous Arab knights, the genealogies, biographies and histories of the Arabs, as well as the bloodlines of their horses.

               He memorized the Quran by heart. From the Quran, he learned: ”Never let your enmity for anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Always be just” (al-Ma’idah 5:8)

               Then he memorized the Hamasas of Abu Tammam, ten books of poems recalling Arab knights feats.

               In the Hamasas, he read: “You always pardoned their misdeed and gave freedom to any who admitted a fault.”

               He spent his life proving the Quran and the Hamasas right. He was Salah Al Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyubi better known in the West as Saladin.

***

                Saladin saddled his horse. His head barely reached the saddle and his frail silhouette swayed in the wind of the desert. He had a thoughtful look on his face that rather looked sad. A letter was resting in the sash of his tunic while he pulled on the cords.

“Assalam alikum, Sultan of Egypt.”

“Wa alaikum assalam, my son,” answered Saladin, turning toward his son, and his face suddenly lit up with a comforting smile. “Are you well rested?”

“I believe so, father. What have you got in your belt? Is it a letter for mother?”

“Indeed. I must warn her of our arrival. She must be anxious even though we were summoned to the late Nur Al Din’s court. I must give this letter to the courier.”

Saladin looked around at the camp for a sign of the courier. He looked at the emirs, soldiers, Kurds, and Bedouins who had joined them after passing through Basra; the emotion of their hearts was to be seen on their faces. Even his 700 trusted Egyptian horsemen beamed with happiness. They all looked forward for the renaissance of Islam.

He sighed and the sad face came back creeping on him.

“Father,” said Afdal.

“Yes, son.”

“I was just wondering why, when nobody is looking, you never smile.”

Saladin struck his short, net beard with his hand. A trail of sand immediately started to trickle, following the hem of his tunic from his face to his heart.

He answered, “How can I smile when Jerusalem is in the hands of the Christians?”

“You are called Saladin, Righteousness of the Faith. All the righteous ones pour rivers of sorrows at the feet of Jerusalem, but they still enjoy the joys of this earth. But you don’t.”

“I cannot forget our loss when it cripples the Muslim community.”

Saladin looked away. He remembered but too vividly what he was told about the first Crusade. Year 1099, 30,000 French, English and German noble men had massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem and had looted its wealth. Jerusalem, the land Muslims had shared for centuries. The sacred land was the land where he did not even dream of shedding blood, not even the one of his enemies. He could see in his imagination Pope Urban claiming to all the knights stooped on one knee: “Undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the Kingdom of Heaven!”

Saladin could not understand how killing children, the elderly, and shaming women could earn someone Paradise.

He finally said, “The Muslims are like a single body. When one part is harmed, the rest of the body suffers. The Franks are like a plague that runs on one side of Mesopotamia. We will carve out this red scar on our ribs. I swear to Allah.”

“Father, you speak harshly. Were you not taught to forgive when you are able to punish? To act gently when you were angry? To wish your enemies well and do good to them?”

“Indeed. I was taught all of that. But, isn’t Jerusalem the second holiest place in the Muslim world after Mecca? Didn’t Muhammad, our Prophet, rise to Paradise from Jerusalem? And isn’t Jerusalem on the soil of the Arabs?”

“Indeed, O father.”

“The eyes of all Muslims are turned towards Jerusalem. I will give these eyes satisfaction with as much mercy as Allah will give me.”

Saladin mounted his horse, and they soon arrived in Damascus where they waited for the gates of Damascus to open. Saladin was allowed to enter without his army. He trotted silently to his old father’s house where his family was awaiting him.

“Othman, Aziz, Adil, Zahir, come here, boys. Your father has returned,” exclaimed Umm Afdal beside herself with joy. She wore a brocaded tunic put over two layers of clothing. The long pointy sleeves gave her gait a look of importance. At her feet, she wore high heel wooden sandals that made little clicking sounds on the marble floor.

“Where are the other children?” exclaimed Saladin with happy tearing eyes.

“At school.”

“Good. And these boys?”

“They have a private tutor now.”

Saladin looked at the boys with proud appraisals. After a moment, he declared, “Then go along and return to your tutor, my sons. Knowledge does not wait.”

“Yes, father,” they answered all together obediently.

He then turned towards Umm Afdal. “How was my family treated in Damascus during my absence?”

“Well, dear husband.”

“I am glad,” answered Saladin. Next, he turned towards Afdal who was still at his side and declared, “One day, you will govern Damascus. Mark my words. You should consider this town like your family. Go, tell the governor we are awaiting his visit.”

“All right, Father, but will you tell my brothers stories about your conquests? They must be waiting impatiently.”

Saladin put a hand on his eldest son’s shoulder, and said, “They are not mines, Al Afdal. They are Allah’s conquests. Never forget that everything we have is a gift from Allah.”

Afdal departed, his heavy rida cloak swishing the air behind him and his kuff boots leaving a sandy powder upon his path.

Umm Afdal walked a few steps with her husband before saying, “The shadows cool the air of our home when you come back.”

“You know, Umm Afdal, that nothing pleases me more than sitting in the cool gardens of this palace, playing with my sons.”

“My dear husband, you are carrying with you the sand of the desert and with it hordes of supporters, but where are the sand devils?”

“For now, the Franks are keeping safe in their castles.”

“Then, today is truly a day to rejoice.”

“Dear wife, my happiness lays in seeing you after such a long time.”
“I have been blessed with many victories over death,” she said pointing at his sons. “I hope it will not be in vain.”

Saladin recoiled, knowing his companion more than anybody else. He asked, “What is it, Umm Afdal?”

“Here, I expect you to gain victories over men, not in battle, but over their hearts. You have yourself escaped many deaths in foreign lands. Beware, our enemies are not only overseas.”

“Praise be to Allah. Only Allah decides who is the most capable and gives success to whom He wills. I will not bring war to Damascus. I did not come for a siege. You know that I always prefer negotiation and diplomacy to fighting. Allah will provide.”

Umm Afdal sat down on a bench and invited her husband next to her. She said, “Listen, Salah Al Din. You are heir of the richest of Muslim dynasties. Allah watches over you. The moment the ruler of Damascus wanted to take it away from you, he died, leaving you the vast empire of Egypt and a door opened to Syria. Two months later, your deadliest enemy, Almaric, also died on his way to Egypt. The only monarch left who could harm you is Manuel the Byzantine, and I am confident that Allah will push him away from your road.”

“God willing. Umm Afdal, you are a loving wife. You have known me for more than twenty years. You know that I do not take anything for granted.”

“I know that you will succeed here. I am certain of your success, Allah willing, but in case your luck would turn, I will not have enough money to provide adequately for our needs.”

“I gave you three shops which gives you twenty dinars a year.”

“Dear husband, this is not enough.”

“I have nothing else. With all the money I command, I am but the treasurer of the Muslims, and I have no intention of betraying them, nor of casting myself into the fires of hell on your account.”

Umm Afdal stared at her husband in shock. The man was so generous with the peasants, as he bought food from them for his army. The man who did not have a dinar to speak of and whose treasurers kept hidden a portion of his wealth from him for fear that he would spend it all. This very man who was more generous than anyone she knew, the man of the house, her husband, Salah Al Din, refused to give her the money she needed for their children. She tried to reply, but her jaw dropped and she felt unable to speak.

“Salam alikum Salh Al Din,” interrupted the governor of Damascus followed by other dignitaries. With them was a qadi from his army.

The qadi said, “The army is marching inside Damascus. The people have opened the gates for you, Saladin. You are their only hope.”

“Wa alikum assalam, brothers,” answered Saladin pulling his cloak around himself more tightly. Dear wife, would you excuse us?”

Umm Afdal covered her face and ran out of the room.

Saladin addressed the men directly, “I have not pitched camp here in order to make war against you or to lay siege, Governor.”

The men sat down and fruits and nuts were served to them.

Saladin continued, “I was summoned here.”

The Governor gathered his robes and agreed.

Saladin concluded, “By God, if Damascus falls in the hands of its enemies, Jerusalem will never be re-conquered.”

“We came here to ask you your intentions, Saladin.”

“Malik Al Din, the son of my king is too young. At eleven years old, he is not yet ripe for command. He needs me.”

“This is treason!” exclaimed the Governor.

“Nur Al Din’s son should be the heir!” approved the rest of the men.

Saladin calmed them down and explained, “Sultan Nur Ad Din was a mighty persecutor of the Christian name and faith. He was also a just prince, valiant and wise, and a religious man. He leaves a son too young to rule. I was the representative of Nur ad-Din in Egypt and I became sultan of Egypt myself. I stopped the Fatimid fever that was weakening our faith. I have proved myself worthy of commanding. Syria and Egypt were about to start open hostilities toward the Franks. I will continue what Nur Ad Din has started and will finish it with the help of God. I will be the next sultan of Syria, not for myself, but for the future of Islam.”

Saladin’s qadi walked in the middle of the men who started to shout in anger. He topped the tumult of their voices and tried to reassure them, “Saladin tells the truth. No sooner did he assume the over lordship of Egypt the world and its pleasures lost all significance in Saladin’s eyes.” Ibn Shaddad paused and then said again in front of the Damascus’ delegation that was heated hot, “He has renounced the temptations of pleasure and he has taken to a life of sweat and toil, which increase day by day. Such are the words of Allah: Perhaps you hate a thing while it is good for you and you may love a thing while it is bad for you.”

The delegation stopped but a moment to listen. Soon, their blood got heated again and they yelled one after the other, “We will not stand for this. This is treason, madness, unseen before.”

Saladin took a stand on the table and declared, “If Nur Ad Din had thought any one of you capable of taking my place or of being trusted as he trusted me, he would have appointed him to the government of Egypt, the most important of all his possessions. If death had not prevented him, he would have bequeathed to none but me the guardianship and bringing up of his son. I perceive that to my hurt you have arrogated to yourselves the care of my Master, the son of my Master. Assuredly, I will come to do him homage and repay the benefits of his father by service, which shall be remembered forever; and I shall deal with each of you according to his work, especially the abandoning of the defense of the King’s Dominions. Brothers! We are all Muslims. The best in the eyes of God is the one who has more faith. I call for jihad. I will negotiate if I can or conquer if I must. But foremost the Muslims must be one single body, one single will.”

“We will not let a power-hungry scholar from a barbaric Kurdish tribe rule us!” they said in anger.

Saladin climbed down from the table, his tunic twirling in the cold air and moving a small wind that chilled the men closest to him, “Look carefully. We have surrounded Damascus with a sea of steel. We have dawned on the people like light in darkness. The people have rushed to us both before and after we have entered the city in joy at the coming of our rule. Had we not made haste to come to them, they would have hastened to us. Damascus is only a step to the conquest of Jerusalem. To hold back from the Holy Wars is a crime for which there can be no excuse. That was what Nur Ad Din would have wanted.”

Saying this, he went into town. Saladin went directly praying at the Umayyad Mosque. While he was praying, the markets re-opened, someone proclaimed in the name of Saladin, the new ruler of Damascus, “No looting will be allowed, taxes are cancelled and pardon is given for those who repent.”

Soon, people applauded Saladin for distributing the wealth from the city’s treasury.

He then rode to the castle to meet the queen.

Nur al Din’s widow was looking behind a veiled wall. She was expecting him. On her lap sat a little girl, but nobody could see them. Saladin approached her and looked through the veil.

“Ismat Ad Din Khatun, queen of Damascus. Your spouse is defunct and you are only a woman. You are a pious founder of mosques and a price for a husband. Your son needs my help. For all these reasons, would you consent to marry me?”

Ismat braced herself and asked, “Will you serve my son?”

“I will serve your son in the cause of Islam.”

“Then, call me Asimat.”

Nur al Din’s youngest daughter was then brought to him.

“Young lady, what would you like as a present?” asked Saladin with admiring eyes.

“I would like the castle to be given back to my brother Malik.”

“Agreed.”

Saladin then asked for the cartographer. The man brought a map of Mesopotamia. Saladin stood next to it with the girl. He was smiling enigmatically. He traced the contours of his kingdom on a map with his finger, explaining, “Come my lady, I will show you. In the West, the Fatimid Egyptians Shias, an Islamic sect menacing the orthodoxy. Tamed, thanks to Allah! In the North, the Syrian rebels have made a pact with the Crusaders. Not a threat to your brother anymore. Soon, the big dark shadow that has risen from the West, dimming the light of the Middle East, will darken on their side and brighten on ours. And Aleppo, where your brother has taken refuge, is the key to the lands. This city is the eye of Syria and the citadel is its pupil. I will give you more than a castle, Milady. With the help of Allah, I will unify Syria. The eyes of all Muslims are turned towards Jerusalem, but I must first conquer the eyes of Syria, starting by your eyes.”

Soumyana is a French revert to Islam now living in the USA. She is a writer and teacher by profession. Education: M.D. Linguistics, Montessori Certificate. Web site: http://www.alhidaayah.net/soumyana/ and Web site: http://soumyana.weebly.com/

2010 Winter Edition of IWA Magazine

 © Pirate’s Peace by Brandy AZ Chase

Alessandro twirled his thin moustache keeping half an eye on the Italian ship. His slender hand clutched the hilt of his sword, flicking it in irritation at having to stand guard. As the sharpest blade in all of Italy, he deserved to board the Libyan merchant vessel caught off the coast.

A sudden flood of Libyans surging from the merchant hold turned the tide against the bold Italian pirates. Alessandro’s keen brown eyes spied Capitano Drago starboard, battling three dark men single handedly. Looking aft, he saw his best ship-mate, Bonafacio, fall to Libyan steel. With a deep roar of rage, Alessandro grabbed a line and swung over, landing on the port side of the vessel, where the Libyans had a stronghold. His blade was a blur. Six men fell to avenge Bonafacio.

“Ao! They’re taking our ship!” Jacopo bellowed in outrage. Alessandro cast a guilty look over his shoulder. Five dark figures were lopping off the Italian hold lines. Scrambling to his rope and swinging across, his sword reached its target. Seeing themselves surrounded by pirates, the four remaining held up their hands in surrender, swords clanging to the deck. With the revolt checked, Alessandro took survey of the other vessel.

Capitano Drago had three Libyans remaining, kneeling in surrender, as the pirates freely plundered their booty. Feeling Alessandro’s scrutiny, Capitano whirled around scowling fiercely, his dark heavy eyes glinting. Sailing his beefy mass over the gap, Capitano landed directly in front of his underling, seizing him by the shirt.

“If you weren’t so handy with that sword, I’d cut you down myself you filthy mongrel for dereliction,” Capitano spat. “We almost lost our own ship! Your incompetence deserves a reward! You’ll serve to scour the hold and brig ‘til we reach shore. Get on with it you pestilent sea bile!” Capitano barked as he released Alessandro with a shove that landed him on his back. Cursing his fate, punishment, and above all, Capitano Drago, Alessandro muttered his way down to the brig followed by the seven remaining Libyans.

“A man who chooses to do wrong has no one to curse but himself,” one of the Libyan men said in jerky Italian, leaning against the brig bars. Alessandro caught the man by his homely green shirt and glared into his dark eyes. Their noses, one pointy the other flat, almost touched. Cursing him with a long stream of Italian, Alessandro released the prisoner to tend to his duties.

***

All week Alessandro was worked to the bone. Capitano descended daily to the brig for inspection. The Cat-O’Nine-Tails was not spared if anything was found wanting. After meting out lashings, he’d return top deck to gorge his already widthsome girth. Alessandro joined his sea mates for their meal. Often he was too late for first choice and had to make do with scraps. He made up for his hunger by eating some of the scraps offered to the prisoners.

One afternoon as he swabbed the lower deck, he spied the flat-nosed man sharing his portion with his friends. “Why split your meager means?” Alessandro called out leaning on his mop handle.

“Allah has given me this food from His Mercy,” the flat-nosed man explained. “I’m showing my gratitude to Him. By returning the favor to my Brothers, they may in turn thank Him for His Benevolence.”

“Allah, eh?  Some heathen god is he?” Alessandro sneered and spat on the brig’s bars. The dark man stood slowly and came cautiously near, but not too near, the bars.

“No. Our Lord is Lord and Creator of All. He is One. There is nothing like Him. He is God over you as well and Knows All,” he said with his voice so full of certainty, his smooth face so serene, and his eyes at peace, that for a moment Alessandro could only stare. After realizing a length of time passed, he shook himself and snorted dismissively at the man. He resumed working but continued watching the dark pious man. Alessandro’s heart fluttered in his chest like a caged butterfly. He never knew peace like that. He never valued his ‘mate’s welfare as his own. If this God, Allah, knew everything, then He knew how he longed for a spit of land to call his own. Land on which to work and raise a family.

That evening, he walked numbly up the stairs to the top deck, his crew celebrating with rum and bawdy sea songs. He half joined them before sinking to lean against a rail with his close friend, Reno. The songs quieted down while he studied the stars glimmering above like candles leading him through the night. A warm breeze caressed his cheek and threaded through his curly chestnut hair, hanging from the tight red bandana, like a mother soothing a child’s troubled mind. Reno guzzled his rum and took his ‘mate’s share as well. Alessandro’s eyes flickered over the empty cup in annoyance.

“What think you of God?” he asked Reno.

“As long as me have rum in me cup, a bella by me side, and a tip of gold in me pocket, I have no need for gods,” he slurred standing and hobbling down the rail. Alessandro had an overwhelming urge to knock the buffoon overboard at his crass remark. He needed to speak with someone possessing more brains.

Creeping down to the brig, he peered through the bars at the seven Libyans laying neatly in a row. Spotting the green-clad flat-nosed man, he sat cross-legged in front of him.

“Psst, you there! Wake with you!” Alessandro hissed through the bars. The man woke and copied his pose. The moon showed half full through the porthole, lending its surreal light. Alessandro propped his elbow against the black cannon and twirled his moustache thoughtfully.

“Tell me your name and more about what this Allah wants from us lowly men. How do we gain His favor?” he mused in an undertone.

“I am Munashe,” the Libyan replied leaning forward, his thick lips lifting in the corners with a gentle smile. Speaking softly of the Power and Attributes of Allah, and our purpose of worshipping Him in this fleeting world, he answered Alessandro’s unspoken questions. “We are united in Peace. These brothers would give each other the shirt off their backs. We honor ourselves, men and women. Even formal criminals, like pirates, we respect, for once they enter Islam their past sins are forgiven,” Munashe elaborated.

With the sky lightening in the East, Munashe excused himself and made ablutions with sea water, then prayed. Alessandro’s heart beat rapidly in his chest; he could feel it saying Allah, Allah, Allah. The Libyan returned sitting and Alessandro nervously licked his lips, “how do I join you in your path to peace?” Munashe woke his companions by whispering in their ears. They sat crowding around Munashe and Alessandro.

“Just say after me—,”speaking slowly Alessandro repeated the Testimony of Faith, the Shahadah, after the Libyan leader. He felt like a king, newly crowned as the beaming Libyans silently shook his hand through the bars.

“I want to free you. If I do, will you arrange a way for me to remain safe from Capitano Drago in Libya and even come to own some land?” Alessandro whispered fervently, hardly believing his own ears, only feeling the pull of giving to them, as if his new heart was directing his mouth without asking his brain. Their eyes shining with hope firmed his resolve.

“I swear by Allah the All Hearing, if we escape safely, we will provide you with a good life including fertile land, a good wife, and a means of earning an honest living,” Munashe promised placing his hand upon his heart. Alessandro beaming added lowly,

“Then keep a weather eye for my signal. Tomorrow night I have last watch.” He heard Capitano Drago stomping around above, cursing at the pirates, and rushed to his duties. His body so elated by his new faith and promise of a future that it didn’t notice the lack of sleep.

***

Alessandro slid on his recently shined black boots and admired the flow of his best livery. In a few hours he would assume the last watch of the night. While Capitano had taken his lunch earlier, he had snagged the brig keys and a stash of valuable goods and concealed them close to the tow line, still pulling along the Libyan vessel behind them.

Waiting patiently for the last third of the night to fall, Alessandro eyed the sky warily. The sea was smooth as glass without a breeze. If Allah didn’t send them a wind to aid their escape they would be doomed. Capitano had no mercy for treachery. He would first be lashed, and then tortured. He had seen it done to others. Shivering at the thought, Alessandro raised his palms to the sky whispering, “Oh Allah, grant us safe passage from those who deny You and mock You. Bring us strong winds to carry us far to safety where I may start life anew, striving to please You.” He lowered his hands taking a few deep breaths, feeling the calm flow through him.

Alessandro assessed there were only three awake now. No one further would rise until first light. So, if he and the Libyans were long gone by then, it would probably be well after sun up before anyone raised the alarm. He had to take these three out. Creeping up behind the first leaning on a rum barrel, Alessandro used the butt of his pistol to gently lay him down.

“What happened to him?” one of the remaining asked seeing him kneeling next to the man.

“Couldn’t hold one more drop. Better cart him below.” Alessandro grinned, hiding his pistol. The two men strode over to lift their fallen mate. He moved swiftly behind them, pretending to assist, when they too fell, leaving only Alessandro standing. He listened for a further challenge then stealthily stepped down to the brig and slid the key into the lock, gently turning it. With every click he winced, but no calls rose from the dark.

Seven dark men silently slid to the aft of the ship, taking the offered sacks of supplies and climbing along the taunt tow line to their vessel. Running to their stations, they prepared to cast off. Tense minutes passed wordlessly, with everyone looking over their shoulders until Munashe signaled. They lined up on the deck in a row and began praying.

Alessandro, so taken by the sight, ran to join them, though he knew not the words and knew not the rituals. Up and down, four times his face touched the rough deck; the wood imprinting on his forehead in his earnest desire to please Allah. Like a true miracle, the limp sail began to billow and stretch with a gust of wind filling it. Alessandro cut the tow line.

The Italian pirate ship shrank into the horizon with the sky lightening. Clasping Alessandro on the shoulder, Munashe proclaimed, “You have kept your promise my new brother, and so we give you the new name of Unathi meaning ‘God is with us’. We will fulfill our promise to you. You will be staying in my home until I have satisfied it.” Alessandro clasped Munashe back in affirmation, and then moved to stand alone by the rail, looking out at the blue sea glimmering.

As the sun woke, climbing out of its watery blanket and bathing the sails golden, Alessandro Unathi could feel it well up inside him and settle in his bones: peace within. The beauty of the feeling brought a tear to his eye.  He had gone from killing seven of these good men to saving seven. The tear ran down his rugged cheek and he quietly praised Allah, for the beginning of his new life.

Brandy AZ Chase was born and raised in sunny Tucson, Arizona, USA. She converted to Islam at seventeen from Atheism and goes by the Islamic name of Aminah-Zahira. She lived in Lebanon for four years and Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates for four years, now she currently resides in Dubai with her Lebanese husband and two children.

She has been writing poetry, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and historical novels since she was twelve and has been studying art and drawing with different mediums. Recently discovering the genre of Islamic Fiction, she has written many short stories and poems. In addition to writing she does homeschooling, art work, interior and landscape designing, and blogging at http://www.AmericanMuslimaWriter.blogspot.com/.

She created an All Muslimah Blog Directory at http://www.AllMuslimah.blogspot.com/  and can be reached through her e-mail BrandyAZChase@gmail.com.

Of the things in life she loves are books, sword fighting, wooden ships, tiger-lilies, delving into the realms of Imagination, and above all Allah and all the great things Islam has brought to her life.

August 2010 Edition of IWA Magazine

By the Light of True Dawn
by Amina Malik

There once lived a tribe of people – more animal than human – who dwelled behind the Wall where they had been imprisoned long ago. Hunch-backed and barefoot, they scrabbled at the earth beneath the Wall, with long blackened fingernails and stunted feet, trying to dig their way under it.

“When will we be free?” They asked one another, hoping to leave their confinement and escape to the outside world, where they could perform all manner of mischief once again. “Soon, soon,” they would reassure one another; they would lick the earth with their rough, dirt-covered tongues, breaking away the vast mounds of soil and swallowing both earth and worms in one.

The Tribe would struggle and strive by night and eventually would pierce a hole in the mass of soil and the faintest fragment of the outside would flicker through the gap. “We’re nearly free!” They would cry with joy, their eyes would flash with glee and they would renew their efforts to dig their way out of their prison and escape. But when the first beams of light would fall on the earth – before the sun had emerged in the sky – the soil dug away from the hole would be replaced and the tribe would be disappointed to see that their efforts had been in vain. By the light of the true dawn they would sit back down on to the ground and cry that they were confined forever.

When a new child was born to the Tribe the child would not question why he was confined behind a copper-coloured wall; hard and unflinching set before him, with the walls of a narrow valley on either side. He would simply play with the other children and watch his parents lick the earth. He would watch it break away and watch as it was re-created every single day. As he grew older he began to wonder why he had only ever seen this small place and these people. He, like all of the older children born to the Tribe, would ask why they licked away the dirt each night and why the hole would become filled each morning. Each child would then be told the story of The Time Before the Wall.

“There was a time,” the oldest of them would begin the tale; all of the children wide-eyed and enchanted, “there was a time when there was no wall and we were free to do as we liked. We had control over the earth and we killed and pillaged until rivers of blood would flow across the lands and all of the inhabitants of the earth would know that we had passed by”.

“But how did we come to be trapped in here?” The children would always ask.

“The humans of the earth would flee before us and would run to hide. Then one day a two-horned man crossed these valleys, one who was strong and righteous. The humans begged him for protection against us and a wall of copper was erected barring our exit. We were sealed inside the valley with this wall before us. We have been trapped behind it ever since.” Then the children would cry and the elders would cry and they would again lick the soil that night.

One day, after a thousand seasons had passed, a child was born to one of the Tribe who had already brought six into the world before. As with all of her children, the mother tried to kill the child, but was stopped by the child’s father. “No!” He hissed and picked up the child placing him down on a mound of soil that had been broken away earlier that night.

“We have no space for these,” she hissed, her face sullen. “We should destroy it while it is too small to fight back”. She licked her lips at the thought.

“No,” insisted the father. “What shall we name it?” The earthen ceiling above them shook.

“What’s happening?” asked one.

“People are passing over us” whispered another. They craned their necks to listen, all work ceasing. The sound of voices above was heard and then there was a shriek from inside the hole. One of the tribesmen had snapped the arm of another and was laughing mercilessly as the first writhed in pain. The others ignored this, as they were a barbaric and uncivilized people, and they strained once again to listen. “It’s incredible! Such a remote part of the world…Inshallah we will come back again one day…” The voice trailed away.

The child was named Inshallah and the father was pleased with such an unusual name.

Several more years passed by and Inshallah grew bigger and stronger despite more efforts to kill him from his fellow tribesmen. They were a blood-thirsty group and the desire to kill had not faded despite their imprisonment. As he was now big enough, Inshallah also licked the earth, and also cried when the hole was magically re-filled.

One day when true dawn had emerged and the earth was a lighter shade of dark, but the sun was still at rest, and the hole was re-created once again Inshallah sat down on the cold hard ground, but this time he did not cry. “When will we break past the Wall?” he asked his father.

“Tomorrow, Inshallah” his father replied through his sobs. Little did he know that he had invoked God Himself.

The next night the Tribe began their usual laborious task of licking the earth away and each person was enlisted to help. Hands and feet scratched away at the soil, and stones that dug into nails were ignored. Hours passed by and the sliver of light of true dawn was soon visible. Half of the Tribe had fallen back on to the ground, exhausted and defeated, waiting for the hole to be magically resurrected. The others continued, including Inshallah and his father; they pushed themselves to lick at the soil and continue until the last mound had broken away and crumbled beneath them.

They could not believe what had happened at first; they were actually free. Silence, then screams and shouts as the ones at the front of the hole called back to the others that they had reached the surface. Then the Tribe was out on the other side of the Wall. They ran out of the valley in bursts; the weaker among them trailing behind. They rushed headlong down every mountain and attacked the people they found there. The people ran and screamed as they were pounced upon by the Tribe; shocked at just the sight of the wild men with hideous faces. All who saw them approach ran to hide. A call went out across the globe and all of mankind was told: the Eaters of Blood were free.

The Tribe gathered into a vast army and marched in pairs across the lands to reclaim the Earth as their own. They marched onwards until they came to Lake Tiberias and there they took turns to stop and drink deeply. As each one drank his fill and moved away another took his place. Thirst quenched, each one would march on but when the rear of the army reached the Lake, they found it drained and dry, so vast was the army of the Tribe. “A lake used to be here,” they commented to one another and marched onwards.

Every country they crossed they pillaged. Every human and animal that came into their path was devoured or killed by the men who were more like vicious beasts than humans. Every surviving human scattered and hid. The Earth belonged to the Tribe once again and they were free to do as they liked. There was no one to oppose them or prevent them from creating mischief and they rejoiced as they continued to spoil the lands.

Then one day a Great Man emerged from Mount Tur with his followers and he saw that the Earth was in ruins. The Great Man prayed.

God heard his prayer and sent a billion fat worms that fell from the sky and they began to crawl across the Earth. The worms had teeth as strong as steel and a blood-thirst as mighty as the Tribe. They were fierce and had only one purpose. They slithered across the Earth at speed until they reached each member of the Tribe; crawling over the bodies of the tribesmen until they reached their shoulders, they began to bite into their necks, their spear-like teeth cutting into rough skin. Some members of the Tribe fell immediately to the ground as the sharp, venomous teeth of the worms sank into their flesh. Others stood and tore at their skins with their overgrown nails, trying to drag the worms off their necks. But the worms were strong and God-sent and they ate away the flesh from the necks of the Tribe until the tribesmen were all dead. When the worms had completed their task they disappeared into the ground and were not seen again.

The Tribe numbered several thousand and when they fell the Earth was littered. Days passed by and the humans began to emerge from their hiding places to reclaim the Earth once again. But the bodies of the Tribe were many and they had begun to rot and fester, decaying with a putrid smell. The stench was so unbearable that it caused the humans to hide once again beneath the ground or high in trees.

The Great Man prayed once again and God again answered his call. A heavy rain fell all over the Earth until the water levels rose up high, engulfing the bodies of the Tribe and washing them all away. Then the Earth was free again and the humans re-emerged and nature continued on its course. Trees and plants grew and the humans took sustenance from them, living freely once again on Earth, as true vicegerents. The remote valley was left empty and the copper-coloured Wall remained standing tall, glinting in the sunlight.

© Amina Malik, 2010. All Rights Reserved

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8 Responses to Fiction

  1. Debora says:

    Interesting story, masha Allah!

  2. saara says:

    Salaams:

    An amazing story!

  3. Amina Malik says:

    Jazakallahkhair sisters!

    Please visit my website for a short explanation of the story if you would like further information http://www.aminamalik.co.uk/1_78_Islamic-Fiction.html

  4. Pingback: By the Light of True Dawn | Amina The Writer

  5. Safia says:

    Yahiya Emerick;s article was really to the point!.Loved it.
    Enjoyed the other stories .Was thinking wouldn’t it be nice if there was some illustrations too.
    Safia

  6. Safia says:

    Yahiya Emerick’s article was really to the point!.Loved it.
    Enjoyed the other stories .Was thinking wouldn’t it be nice if there was some illustrations too.
    Safia

    • IWA Magazine says:

      Salaams Safia,

      Thanks for reading the article and leaving your comments. Yes, I too have thought that adding illustrations would be nice, but I don’t personally illustrate. I rely on the IWA membership to donate content to each magazine edition and when relying on volunteer contributions there is no guarantee that illustrations would be contributed for every edition. This would make it more difficult to design the content. For the next edition I will see what I can do…maybe create a special section just for members who illustrate or do graphic designs and showcase their work. A one time request for this kind of content might work. Thanks again for your interest and suggestion..
      Sincerely,
      Linda Delgado
      IWA Director

  7. Author says:

    Absolutely loved reading the Friendship Well! It’s an inspirational story and puts us back in touch with people living in very different environments to ours. The story was also written by a very young author, mashallah.

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