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Articles tagged "Islam"

The Guest

She has become more like her grandmother than her mother, Hend thinks to herself. She remembered how she used to squirm in her grandmother’s lap, an angry child with a bare bottom. She was hard to keep up with as a child, light and thin, teething and crawling and speaking well before any of her brothers did. She proved that she was a creature capable of surviving and flourishing on the barest necessities of life. Her mother often left her to her own devices. She would crawl up the...

Destitutes Compound

At the time I left home for good I must have been around twenty-two or twenty-four years old. What prompted me to leave was my father’s attitude. He complained that I’d developed bad habits. When I think about it now, it seems he was right to complain, and he was also right to try and find out on his own how I was spending my time. Back then, though, I thought it was all rather unfair and I used to complain to my mother about it. What galled me the most was that whenever he...

Beyond the Fog

1 Throughout the day English sahibs, memsahibs, and their baba log cross the bridge on mules and horses or riding in rickshaws and dandis. In the evening, the same bridge becomes the site of milling crowds of Indians. The swarm of rushing humanity going up and down the slopes huffing and puffing looks like the surge of a massive tidal wave. Movies starring Esther Williams, Joan Fontaine, Nur Jahan, and Khursheed are playing in the local cinemas. Skating continues in the rinks. In the...

The Saga of Jaanki Raman Pandey

Somebody should have gone and inquired from this Jaanki Raman Pandey, Advocate, why in the name of God did he have to go to Rasoolpur and die there when he was doing so well in Allahabad? And die, not just figuratively, but literally. The common belief is that the time and place of a person’s death are preordained (and also the time and place of some events more important than death, e.g., marriage). So why the fuss if one believes it has to be so? Well, what can one do? There are...

Pink Pigeons—Was It They Who Won?

An early August wind whispers through the lush green trees of Alma Ata. The tiny leaves break into applause. "What are these trees called?" I ask the interpreter. "Tuzhi," the ravishing, delicate Tatar beauty responds gently, in a distinctly American accent. Her name is Gulnaz. So beautiful, fragile-looking, adorable! Like a refreshing vision of paradise itself. And the words flow from her mouth in a cascade of flowers. A persistent breeze keeps blowing her short blonde hair across her...

The Man With Three Names

He had three names: Majeeta, Majeed and Ma'i Dada. Those who called him Majeeta had given up the ghost during his lifetime. The few hoary old men who called him Majeed, or "Arey Maan Majeed," lingered on for a while longer. To the rest—and this included the whole town—he was at all times Ma'i Dada. His real name though, as he himself stated, was Abdul Mazid Khan Esoop Ja'i. Thus, in the police papers, ration cards, state hospital records and finally in the register...

Do You Suppose It’s the East Wind?

The enormous weight of three hundred and sixty-five days once again slips from my hand and falls down into the dark cavern of the past. The windows in this desolate room are wide open. How improbably strange the sky looks, draped in a sheet of dense gray clouds, behind the luxuriant green trees. It seems as if someone has filled space itself with a sweet, melancholy beauty. A cool breeze has finally started to blow, after much heat and sun. Could it be the east wind? Papers and books...

The First Love

Once I happened to visit a fishing village in the Andaman Sea, west of the Malay Peninsula in the Indian Ocean. Unlike typical fishing villages, this one was not situated on shore, but floated in the sea. Its houses were built on rafts that were anchored side by side and connected with ropes and wooden walkways. The village rocked tranquilly upon the waves, up and down, creating a strange sensation. In general, when you go from a boat to a dock, you feel at once the reassuring solidity of...

Road to Heaven

When my mother died, her face changed. I was the first to notice. When other family members and friends came to pay their respects, what I saw in their eyes was doubt; none could believe that the deceased was my mother. Even my brother, who hadn't seen my mother alive for three years, when viewing her corpse, straightaway announced that the deceased was our aunt, the youngest girl in my mother's family. The doctors and nurses who had cared for Mother when she was in the hospital...

from “Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded”

Yusuf al-Shirbini wrote his primary work, Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded [Hazz al-Quhuf bi-Sharh Qasid Abi Shaduf], in or shortly after 1686. His only other known work is a homily written entirely with those letters of the Arabic alphabet that do not have dots. Little is known of the author's life, though he appears to have studied at al-Azhar, Cairo's religious university, and to have worked as a bookseller and perhaps, at some point, as a weaver. Brains...

from Wanderings

In the Country of Sands There are hours apart, very mysteriously privileged moments, when certain lands reveal to us, during sudden intuition, their soul, in some way their own essence, when we develop an accurate and unique vision, and which months of patient study would not be able to complete, nor to modify. However, during these furtive instants, the details necessarily escape us and we are only able to perceive the whole of things. A peculiar state of our soul, or a special aspect...

Silence

Throngs of sound advance toward the little girl, each throng attempting to reach her ears first before the others, to come down on them like a gavel, and her ears take them all in. After her brother screams, she hears a fly, then it flutters away, so she hears the whisper of the electric meter. In the entire world, she cannot find a single moment of silence. The sounds that invade her ears do not leave, but form layers, one on top of the other. She puts her fingers in her ears in an...

The Abolition of the Profession of Curser

Other rumors might have circulated widely in earlier periods, but without a doubt these new ones should have produced the greatest effect. The current reports concerned the abolition of the office of curser. Their effect should have been as great on those whom this eventuality could not fail to vex as on those who were ready to delight in it. The former group included, first and foremost, the individuals directly concerned, as well as their friends and relations. Among the latter were...

The Locusts

The village follows a never-changing script: Things are today exactly as they were yesterday, which is the same as they were the day before, and a year before that. There is Omran, dutifully executing his daily chores, drawing water from the well using a bucket raised by a beast of burden. Now he's tossing daily feed to his livestock. Now he's moving back and forth with an ox, cutting a furrow in the ground. From the mountains through which so many tomorrows pass floats a sweet...

Omega:  Definitions

I am a Muslim feminist from the Fertile Crescent. I have a tattoo on my right wrist. It's of God. I designed it. Do you know where the Fertile Crescent is? One day when we were alone together Shah treated me in a way I didn't like at all. Shah means King in Persian. I don't remember the details. But it was theatre. I don't think it made any difference. I don't usually talk about my religion. Some Muslims might not accept me as one because I sometimes...

from “The Perfect Novel”

Chapter Five We were working on "recording" the following scenes from my novel: the Sunday lunch in the garden at Manuel's house, where the two families part amicably, mothers and aunts included; Manuel's family life, Ana's, their respective conjugal misery, their children, the frustrations and pleasures of their daily lives and routines; we were about to arrive at the adulterers' next rendezvous which would end with the tragedy that would give rise to the plot of the...

Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha

In the history of Islam, perhaps no woman has been as widely (mis)interpreted as Zulaikha—the beautiful and perfidious wife of Potiphar in the story of Joseph. It was she who tried to seduce Joseph into the whirl of adultery and unbridled hedonism. It was she who upon being rejected by Joseph accused him of raping her, thus causing him to be incarcerated for years in the terrible dungeons of Potiphar's regime. And it was she who has over and over been blamed, condemned, and...

Damascus, What Are You Doing to Me?

1 My voice rings out, this time, from Damascus It rings out from the house of my mother and father In Sham. The geography of my body changes. The cells of my blood become green. My alphabet is green. In Sham. A new mouth emerges for my mouth A new voice emerges for my voice And my fingers Become a tribe 2 I return to Damascus Riding on the backs of clouds Riding the two most beautiful horses in the world The horse of passion. The horse of poetry. I return after sixty...

from The Almond

Aunt Selma was in the middle of a gathering of women when I disturbed her. Later on, I learned that in Tangiers the afternoon was the time for women to congregate. All dressed up, fashionable and lighthearted, they'd meet around platters filled with pastries to sip their coffee or tea, try a Spanish or an American cigarette, exchanging their off-color jokes, gossip, and only half-sincere confidences. These ichouiyyates were a most serious social ritual, almost as important as the...

Hameed Nylon

Hameed, who had yet to learn the nickname by which he would be known for the rest of his life, entered the house, which emitted a fresh country scent. With his foot, as usual, he shoved open the heavy door, which was fashioned of walnut and decorated with large, broad-headed nails. Only at night was it closed by a bolt with protruding teeth. Verdigris had spread across this till its edges looked bright green. He climbed a few steps, making his way to the two small rooms over the entryway...

from Maryam of the Stories

The whole city gave up on sleep that night. Explosions sealed up ears and filled the city sky, turning the anticipated weekend into a nightmare. Then Monday came and the shelling calmed, so I goaded my body out of the apartment and down to the empty street. I headed in the direction of the office, not because I was expected there, but to pretend that there was still life not far beyond my reach. As I drove through deserted streets, I felt as though I was descending into a vast cavern...

from Three Dreams on Mount Meru

Today, in the year 1170 of the Hegira, as I finish the narration of my journey to Mount Meru, I can't help thinking about Omui. He was the best storyteller in all Mombasa. The fabulous stories he would tell every Friday in the square in front of the grand mosque always enchanted me. I keep the memory of that man alive within me. I like to think that I'm made of the same stuff and that like him, I too belong to the race of enchanters. Of course, I'm guilty of pride to think...

Bloodred Dew

The two men were alone now. Or was it two women? The night stretched on endlessly. So did the mountain. And the frosted sky lying lightly over the mountain began to pale. The mountain stood facing them, bristling with rocky spurs, with clusters of thorn bushes: snow-dusted specters, already white-congealed. The men (the women?) were two lone figures. The silhouettes that had been climbing for quite some time now might well have been taken for two phantoms. Just the two men, alone, cut...

Epistle on Cosmic Unification

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Blessings upon our master, Muhammad, and upon his family and companions. . . . From my insufficiency to my perfection, and from my deviation to my equilibrium From my sublimity to my beauty, and from my splendor to my majesty From my scattering to my gathering, and from my rejection to my communion From my baseness to my preciousness, and from my stones to my pearls From my rising to my setting, and from my days to my nights From my...

Of the Tree and its Four Birds

It is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the unseen and the visible. Not a single one of His creatures can fail to find Him in its primordial and original nature. -Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Ibn 'Arabi-or Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn al-Arabi at-Tâ'i al-Hâtimi, also called Muhyiddin, the Revivifier of the Faith-was born in 1165 C.E. in the city of Murcia in Muslim...

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