This is part 3 of a multipart series; you can find part 1 here and part 2 here

Louis splashed water on his face, pulled on a t-shirt and pocketed his wallet. Watching Hassan leave had felt like watching his last chance go up in a puff of smoke. He'd wanted to say, “Hold on, don't leave. I'm not a drug addict.” But he couldn't say the words, partly because of pride, and partly because… well, what came next? “I need help, but I don't know what kind? I need…”

He needed a drink, that's what. No, he needed to get red-faced drunk, until his thoughts were drowned in a pool of scorching alcohol. He was running low on savings, but he would worry about that tomorrow.

What difference did it make? He'd ruined everything. Hassan would tell Kadija what he had seen and she'd never have anything to do with Louis again. Kadija. Her name was music in Louis' mind. Thinking about her was like gazing at an impossibly bright gem: his mind approached her image then shied away, unworthy. She had captured him, entranced him in a way he didn't understand. But it was pointless to hope.

When he exited the apartment he found Hassan sitting on the front stoop, performing some odd wrist stretches on himself. It was dusk, the sky still navy blue and the moon rising low on the horizon, orange as the blossom of fire from an artillery shell. Hassan glanced over his shoulder at the sound of the door opening, saw Louis, and returned to his stretches. Louis stared at Hassan's back. He felt a sense of profound relief, but pushed that aside and tried to act angry.

“Why are you still here?” Louis said.

“I was about to leave,” Hassan said without turning around, “and I realized that you never answered my question.”

Louis considered. What was the harm? “I'm not on drugs,” he muttered.

“What?”

“I said I'm not on drugs. I'm not normally a drinker either. It's just lately. Something's shaken me up.”

“Okay,” Hassan said.

Louis sat on the stoop next to Hassan. He saw Hassan glance at his scarred and raw cheek. “These are scars, not sores,” Louis said. “From Iraq. When I feel unsettled the scars itch, and I can't stop scratching.”

“What's got you unsettled?”

“You a veteran?” Louis asked.

“Not exactly.”

“Huh. You've been into something though. I can tell.”

Hassan did not reply. In spite of Hassan's reticence, Louis felt a rapport with the man. It was that look the man had, that look of being a soldier. There are certain things you go through in life, and no one can understand unless they've been there. When you were with someone like that you didn't need words, which was the whole point. You knew them, and they knew you.

“Do I seem dead?” Louis said.

“Dead? What do you mean?”

“Your book, the Qur'an, says we were dead and God brought us back to life. Kadija says that the person who believes in God or Allah is alive, and the one who doesn't is dead, spiritually. So do I seem dead to you?”

“That's what shook you up?” Hassan said. “You read the Qur'an?”

Louis did not reply. He watched an elderly Hispanic couple, immigrants perhaps from El Salvador or Nicaragua, stroll down the sidewalk hand in hand. They walked slowly, the man leaning on a cane, neither of them speaking. Louis felt that he would explode with the need to do something, but what? There was nothing left for a man in this world. Where were the answers?

“I see it now,” Hassan said, nodding.

“What?”

“You're not dead.” Hassan chuckled. “Just the opposite. You're bursting with spiritual energy. The Qur'an has opened your heart.”

Louis looked sharply at Hassan. How could he see that? “I'm not ready to change my life, man,” Louis said. “I'm an American. I fought for this country. I can't change.”

“You don't have to. Islam is a faith, not a nationality. There are millions of American Muslims. But you need to make a change, brother. I can see it as clearly the moon.” He pointed to the full moon hanging low on the horizon. “You need to make a move.”

“What move?”

“A move to Islam, obviously. Allah is calling you.”

“Calling me to what?”

“To laa ilaha il-Allah. That means -”

” – I know what it means,” Louis said. “No God but Allah.”

“Right. Did Kadija explain that?”

“No, I mean I understand the words. I speak Arabic. But I don't what it means for me.”

“You speak Arabic? Wow! Well, it means that we worship Allah alone. We obey Him, and we strive to please Him. The Qur'an is our guide, and the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – is our example.”

Louis was silent for a time. He studied the cement steps of the stoop, tracing the cracks in the cement with his gaze. Finally he said, “I thought you would understand.”

Hassan looked at him. “Tell me,” he said.

Louis tucked his chin into his chest, and breathed out heavily. “Alright.” He had never told this story to a civilian. But Hassan didn't have the air of a civilian. The Look of Blood.

“We were on patrol in a Humvee. I'm up top with the fifty cal – that's a mounted machine gun. A black SUV comes speeding up the cross street and I'm ready to blast it until I see an American flag on the side. It slams into an Iraqi woman in a niqab who's crossing the street, and doesn't slow down. The woman is hurled into a ditch on the side of the road. I hear one of our men shout, “Oh my God!” We take off after the SUV and force it off the road. Turns out they're Blackwater. American mercenaries. They draw their guns on us, can you believe it? And there's nothing we can do. We have no authority over them. We go back to render aid to the Iraqi woman and there's an angry crowd. I try to talk to the crowd because I'm the only one who speaks Arabic. I kneel next to the woman and it's obvious she's dying. Her chest is caved in and soaked in blood. I'm trying to comfort her but her eyes are rolling and I can see she's terrified of me. The crowd starts to pull at me, and one of the guys from my unit panics and guns down an Iraqi man, a middle aged man in a grey suit jacket. A college professor or engineer maybe. And Robertson shoots him in the head. Later he claimed the man was trying to grab my weapon. The situation was out of control, so we took off.”

“There were no consequences,” Louis continued. “Not for the Blackwater bastards, not for us. That's one incident. I could tell you so many stories it would make you sick. I've seen men – Americans – piss on the bodies of dead Iraqis. I never did any of that, but I couldn't stop it either… So now you understand why I could never be Muslim.”

“No,” Hassan said. “I don't.”

“Come on, man. After everything I've done? It would be an insult. How could I be accepted? And if I kept my past secret, how could I live with myself? We were supposed to help the Iraqi people and we betrayed them. Then, on top of that, I'd be betraying my own country, and my brothers who died in Iraq.”

“War is a terrible thing,” Hassan said. “It grinds people up and tosses them out, and they come out broken, like that woman you described, but it happens to everyone, even survivors. It's a nightmare. That's not your fault – it's the fault of the people who engineer wars. But the amazing thing about Islam is that it forgives everything that came before. You come into Islam with a blank slate, like a newborn. You're not betraying anyone. You're purifying yourself.”

“Forgive and forget, is that it?” Louis said bitterly.

“Forgive, yes,” Hassan said. “The forgetting part, that's different. I don't think the memories ever go away. The guilt, the shame. You wrestle with that – maybe forever. And maybe that's how it should be. But at least you can obtain God's forgiveness. You can build a life.”

Louis raised his eyes from the steps and looked at Hassan. “You've been in war,” he said. It was not a question.

Hassan did not reply.

“Where?” Louis said. “Iraq?”

“No. It was a long time ago.”

“Palestine?”

Hassan said nothing and Louis did not pursue it. Some men could not talk about it, he knew. He thought about what Hassan had said. Forgiveness. A chance to start over. It sounded so good.

“Out of curiosity,” Louis said, “What would I have to do if I were Muslim?”

“Pray. Fast in Ramadan. Give some of your money in charity. Go to Hajj in Mecca once in your life. Be a good person. That's it, Louis. It's not complicated.”

“What if I'm not ready? What if I just want… I don't know, man. I don't know what I want.”

“Hmm. Can I share something I've been thinking about?”

“Okay.”

Hassan stood and stretched his arms above his head, then swung them back and forth as if trying to get the blood flowing.

“I've been reading a book about animal migration,” Hassan said. “The author says that mass migrations are the most spectacular wildlife events in the world. Sea turtles travel thousands of miles across open sea to nest on the same beaches where they were hatched.” Hassan moved his hands through the air to indicate great distances. “Flamingoes fly from their winter nesting grounds in sub-Saharan Africa to their summer grounds on the Black Sea in Russia. Isn't that incredible? Even dragonflies migrate huge distances, which is amazing when you consider that they weigh almost nothing. These vast migrations, these miracles, take place all around us, and most of us don't know it.”

Louis nodded. “We get the annual whale migration here in California,” he said. “From Alaska down to Mexico and back every year. My parents took me on a whale watching tour when I was a kid. There's a salmon run too, on the Sacramento River, but I think all the dams have shut that down.”

“That's the problem,” Hassan said. “These migrations are being disrupted by human activity. Habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, artificial light, roads and dams, they're all destroying animal migrations. And we don't know what effect this is going to have on the planet. Or on us.

“Anyway, it got me thinking about human migration. In a way, we humans carried out the greatest migration. Scientists believe that all Homo Sapiens descend from a band of between twenty five and fifty humans who migrated out of Africa about a hundred thousand years ago. Doesn't that blow your mind?”

Louis grunted assent. It was pretty incredible.

“What I'm trying to say,” Hassan continued, “Is that we think we're removed from the natural world, but if you look at our history you see that we have a migration instinct. We're driven to move, hunt, propagate. We're not made to be sedentary.”

“Yeah, I was thinking about that,” Louis said. “How the modern world emasculates men, you know?”

“Yes, but that's not where I'm going,” Hassan said. “I'm asking, what if spiritual migration is a part of our nature as well? What if, as we mature and experience loss, and get our hearts broken, and contemplate our purposes in the world, what if we come to a point where we outgrow our spiritual worldview and have to make a change? An animal at migration time feels in its bones that the environment has changed, and it's compelled to move. What if we human beings experience the same thing spiritually? What if we sense that our old way of believing and behaving has become a prison? What if we feel in our guts that it's time to change?”

“You think that's where I am?” Louis said.

Hassan nodded. “Yes. And to answer your question about what happens if you reject what's happening to you, let me counter with a different question. What happens to an animal – and I'm not saying you're an animal, I'm speaking in terms of nature – what happens to, say, a flamingo in Russia, if winter is approaching and it's time to fly back to Africa, and it doesn't migrate? Maybe it's injured, or restrained, or whatever. What if it stays in place?”

Louis lifted his eyebrows. “I'm no expert on flamingoes,” he said, “but I would imagine it dies. Freezes, or starves.”

“Right.”

“You're saying I'll die?”

“Not literally, but look at yourself.” Hassan gestured to indicate Louis' ravaged condition.

Louis nodded slowly. “The thing is,” Louis said, “I'm stuck. Like I need to change but I can't. It's just… wrecking me.”

“You know what, Louis? You're right. You can't change by yourself. You don't have the vision. That's why you hand this process over to the One who can change you. I mean Allah. You put yourself in His hands and go where He takes you. Be humble and let Allah be in charge.”

“My family will tear into me like a Patriot missile.”

“Yes, that's rough.” Hassan put his hand on Louis' back. “Hold your head up. Be yourself. Express love to your family so they don't think you've abandoned them.”

“You don't know my mom,” Louis said. “She doesn't let things go. We had a neighbor across the street who planted a maple tree. Mom was furious because it blocked our view of the park. She hassled the guy daily, called the housing inspectors, called the water department if he watered his lawn outside of restricted hours, called the cops when he had a loud party. The guy finally caved and cut down the tree. And that was just a tree. Imagine what she'll do to me for adopting some heathen Eastern cult.”

Hassan chuckled.”She'll come around, insha'Allah.”

Louis snorted. “I doubt it. So what do I do next?”

“My suggestion?” Hassan said. “Go inside, clean yourself up and bandage your wounds, then let's go to dinner. That cheese bread was all I've had since morning. How about Mission Burrito down on 24th, you been there?”

“I love that place,” Louis said. “Best burritos north of Tijuana.”

 ***

They took Louis' car, but Hassan insisted on driving, and Louis didn't mind. He was still slightly intoxicated and in no shape to drive.

Louis' burrito was loaded with rice, black beans, sour cream and avocado, and drenched in cheese sauce and salsa. The restaurant was warm and the burrito was the most food he'd had in a week. Louis felt his bodily systems slowly activating, as if he had been partially dead and was now reanimating. His thoughts were clear for the first time in days. Life after lifelessness, he thought.

“What's the deal with you and Kadija?” Hassan asked. “She didn't tell me anything, except that you were her cabbie, and you helped her with something.”

“That's it,” Louis said. “And I want to make that clear. She's been proper with me.”

“Okay,” Hassan said. “But…” He lifted his eyebrows inquisitively.

Louis lifted his eyebrows. “Is it obvious? Yeah, I have some feelings. She's special. And I admit, there's a part of me that hopes that if I become Muslim… you know.”

“You need to separate the two,” Hassan said. “If you choose Islam, then do it purely for the sake of Allah, out of faith in your Creator. I don't know what Kadija has in mind – if anything – but from what I saw in your apartment, you're totally unready for marriage. If you converted to Islam today, I still wouldn't recommend you to Kadija or any other Muslim woman. Give yourself time to grow into the faith.”

“What if she marries someone else?”

“We can talk to her about your interest. But first focus on the deen – the Islamic way of life. You have some thinking to do.”

Returning to Louis' apartment, Hassan parked the car and shut off the engine. He sat, drumming his fingers lightly on the steering wheel. Louis wondered what he was waiting for.

“I was manning a checkpoint with my squad,” Hassan said finally. “Right on the – on the front line. Gunfire rattling all the time, shells and RPG's exploding, but that was usual. You tune it out after a while. A man approached on foot, waving a white hankie. In his forties, gray beard.” Hassan looked at Louis and Louis saw a terrible sadness in his dark eyes. “This is one veteran to another,” Hassan said. “You don't repeat this ever, understand?”

Louis nodded. He recognized Hassan's look of self-torment. He had seen it in the mirror more times than he could count. Hassan resumed his story:

“The man said he'd forgotten his papers, but no one ever forgot their papers. It'd be like forgetting to get dressed. The giveaway was the fear in his eyes. Our sergeant grabbed the man and pushed his hair away from his face, and he recognized him as a captain in a Sunni Muslim militia. Sarge told Yusuf, one of our men, to take gray beard into a nearby abandoned building and shoot him. Gray beard confessed then. He said that yes, he was a Muslim fighter, but that he had a ten year old son with asthma who'd been trapped on the wrong side of the line, without his medication. He just wanted to find his son and then he'd never enter our district again. Our sergeant asked gray beard for the son's name and description, and where he might be found. I guess the man thought he was making some kind of human connection; I don't know, but he told sarge everything. Then sarge told Yusuf to kill the man, then to locate the son and kill him too.”

Hassan paused in his tale and looked at Louis, who could not keep his shock from showing.

“I know,” Hassan said. “But that's how it was in this particular war. There were no boundaries. Everything you described earlier I've seen, and worse. Anyway, the man began sobbing. It's a terrible thing to see a grown man beg for the life of his child. It stays with you like a bullet lodged in your brain. Yusuf clubbed the man in the back and knocked him down, then dragged him by one arm. I saw a stain on the man's pants and I knew he had pissed himself. I asked to go with Yusuf – so I could see how the killing was done, I said. Sarge laughed and made a joke about me being an eager little devil – I was the youngest on the squad by far – and told me to take a liter of kerosene. I knew that anyone who didn't clear this checkpoint was taken into the courtyard of a nearby empty building, shot and torched. But I had never seen it. I got the kerosene, then I ran after Yusuf and took gray beard's other arm. The man was weeping and shouting, 'Save me!' but no one on the street dared to interfere.”

“I'd already made up my mind that I wouldn't let the man be killed. I had shot plenty of enemy fighters at that point but always from a distance. This poor guy just wanted to find his kid. And the asthma part too… it touched a nerve.” Hassan was silent for a long time, until Louis wondered if the story was over.

Hassan lifted his head and inhaled deeply. “Anyway, that's why I volunteered to go with Yusuf. My mind was spinning like a bicycle wheel in sand, trying to figure out how I'd save this poor father. As it turned out, I didn't have to. Soon as we were out of earshot, Yusuf told the man to be quiet, that he wasn't going to kill him. When we walked into the building the smell of rot and charred flesh hit me like a punch. I bent over in the foyer and vomited. Yusuf told the man that he'd escort him to his son, and get them both over the line.”

There was no hope in the man's eyes. He said, 'You'll kill me and my son. I will not take you. Shoot me now, I don't care.' We obviously knew he'd pissed himself, but he stood straight as a cedar tree, with his chin up. Ready to die for his son. A real man, you know?

“Yusuf looked at me and said, 'Do nothing!' Then he handed his rifle to the man, and told him it was loaded, and he said, 'Mr. Badr. I'm Yusuf Ibrahim. I lived on your street in Sayyidna Ali. I played football with Jean. I'm helping you.' The man stared at Yusuf and he recognized him. He hugged Yusuf and began crying again and saying, 'Allah bless you both.'”

“There was an empty swimming pool in the central courtyard of that building and there must have been the remains of thirty bodies in there, but you could only tell from the skulls. There was a tree growing out of the pool, feeding on the burnt remains. The wind had blown the ashes around so that the courtyard looked like a dirty fireplace. The smell was physical, like being struck. It was like being in Hell. We poured kerosene on the bones and skulls and lit it so sarge would see the smoke, then went out the rear exit. I looked back on the way out and I saw the tree going up in flames. I still see that tree burning in my dreams sometimes, but in my dreams, when the trees burns I hear the screams of all the people who died in that courtyard – mostly Muslims – calling out to me to save them.”

“Anyway… We escorted Mr. Badr to find his son, and got them over the line. We told sarge we'd killed them.”

“I'm only telling you this because of what you said about not deserving to be Muslim. On that particular day I did good but I didn't always. I fought against Muslims, but here I am, because Allah is Merciful beyond all bounds. He forgives and He guides whoever He wills. You're not the first or the last to be in this position. There were companions of the Prophet who fought against the Muslims before embracing Islam. So of course you can be forgiven.”

“The other thing is, I'm sure you have your own stories of people you helped. That's what you hold on to. You can't change the ugly reality of war. You just hold on to whatever good you did. That's what keeps you sane.”

Before Louis could think of what to say, Hassan got out of the car, unlocked his bike from the stop sign on the corner, and rode away.

Louis saw that Hassan had left his card on the dashboard. He looked at it:

Hassan Amir
Hammerhead Courier
Innovative Martial Arts - Private Instruction Available

Louis took out his wallet and slipped Hassan's card into it. He had a feeling he'd be calling Hassan soon.

Continued in Part 4 here

For a guide to all of Wael's stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

26 Responses

  1. Humaira Khan

    This was my favorite part! There were some passages that were absolutely beautiful and poetic. Every time you ground the story of these people in a larger reality (for example the war), it acquires tremendous depth because then it isn’t just about the characters but about a bigger issue.

    Just a few things that you might have missed:
    1. Louis says he went back to “render aid” to the iraqi woman — those words pull the reader out of the story coz it looks like “writing” and the saying goes that if it sounds like writing, re-write it! The words might ring true if your character was a college professor or somebody who was trying to show off. They don’t ring true for Louis who is a straightforward guy.

    2. “orange as a the blossom of fire from an artillery shell” – the “a” is extra

    3. One other thing – they say that each character should speak differently so that if one were to remove the dialogue tags identifying the speaker, the reader can still discern who’s speaking. Do Hasan and Louis sound the same in that sense? They do speak in a remarkably similar “voice”. Usually what the pros recommend is that the reader is alerted to whose words s/he is reading by referring to a small idiosyncrasy or habit of the character …e.g. some people like to add identifiers such as how the characters eyes dart about as he speaks or conversely how they remain affixed to some spot or how a character fiddles with his hands or clothes or clears his throat or says “umm” every few words or something like that. You get the drift.

    Using those little movements during a dialogue allows you to skip using dialogue tags every now and then and allows the reader to identify the character through those small gestures instead.

    I’m not very good at it myself so this is hardly a criticism coz I am in no position to judge … but it was just a point that I came across in my reading and wanted to share with you.

    Overall, it’s an interesting story that has been well-written. It takes courage to put one’s work out there and expose oneself to censure/criticism – not everybody can do that.

    I am looking forward to reading the rest.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Humaira, your comments are excellent, thank you. Especially the part about developing a distinct voice for each character. I’ll work on that Insha’Allah.

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  2. Maryam

    Salam Brother Wael

    I have a suggestion, I know that the story is already on the website, but if you get it published, I am sure people will be willing to buy a copy of the book.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Thanks Maryam. I’m planning to put all the stories together into a single book, Insha’Allah, probably in this order: 1. Pieces of a Dream; 2. A Lion is Born; 3. The Deal; 4. Kill the Courier; 5. Dispatch Wizard; 6. Hassan’s Tale; 7. (untitled). 4 and 5 are written but not yet published here, while 6 and 7 are as yet unwritten.

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  3. rayyan

    When I started reading this series, I’d really thought it was completed. I can’t anticipate what’ll happen from one week to the next and that’s brilliant. It’s real and relateable to everyone I think ; guilt, remorse, conflict. I do appreciate going on this journey of spiritual awakening with Louis, almost moment by moment (and finding out more about Hassan too).
    I do feel that Kadija is being placed on the back burner but I feel (hope) this part of the story is just beginning so I look forward to reading more about her conflicts and struggles. I do like that she’s maintaining her distance from Louis even though she has an affection for him. She not only wears hijab but acts it as well.
    We know what happens to them from the other series but how does Kadija react when she’s approached for marriage by Louis. How does he reconcile making this life change; is it for Kadija (he already thinks of her as his saving grace) or is it to improve his relationship with God. How does he focus on what’s greater; he seems desperate. What happens after marriage? Is he still haunted by his past?
    I think you have the makings of a book, to be honest, or at the very least many parts to this series. There are so many issues which have been subtly mentioned but are definitely worth exploring.
    I agree with Humaira, it is courageous putting your work out there and leaving the comments section open too, so kudos.
    Looking forward to the next instalment.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      rayyan, your comments and questions are brilliant, ma-sha-Allah. I just might have to go into the coming parts and make a few edits in response, ha ha :-)

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      • rayyan

        Oh my God, really? That’d be great! Really happy to hear about the plans for compiling the series into a book, Insha Allah.
        There are so many more issues this series could explore: hijab, what’s Louis’ family’s reaction to Kadija as well as her family’s thoughts about Louis? You can also continue with Louis’ intrigue with Kadija and him seeing a relationship with her as validating him, perhaps? I think that’s a huge issue, especially nowadays, and the way you’ve written so far does bring up these and other issues.
        I also like that it doesn’t come across as preachy or dawah-y (or more of a common dawah style I should say, I hope you get what I’m trying to say, I can clarify if you don’t). It hooks in to show don’t tell. Rather it brings discourse.
        I think this is the tip of the iceberg with their story. And Wednesday is a happy day.
        Keep on writing.

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      • rayyan

        Ok, got it! I’ve read The Deal too. That’s also quite good. Whichever way this story goes will be well delivered and received, Insha Allah.

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  4. Komal

    Assalamoalaykum brother Wael,
    Mashallah what a beautiful story,I am so captivated and waiting eagerly for the next parts….haven’t read a good piece of fiction in a long time and allhumdolillah it is more of a religious eye opener,than just a piece of fiction. I have felt that Most of the times we have read the verses from the Quran but don’t get its intensity and than suddenly we might hear a lecture explaining them or an article or like this beautiful story of yours that the amazing Hikmah of the Quran hits you(it’s because I don’t know Arabic,just know how to read it,but learning allhumdolillah) May Allah give you sawab for enlightening many ppl.

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  5. khadeeja suleiman

    Ma Sha Allah.I have never come across such a captivatn and inspirational story that makes me reflect.my favorite part was the part which hassan qoute a hadiths that talks about the seven categories of people that will enter Allah’s shade..jazakallahu khairan.please keep us posted if the next series is ready. May Allah guide you

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  6. A Khan

    Asalamu alaikum,

    Great story. I specially liked this part,
    “Forgive, yes,” Hassan said. “The forgetting part, that’s different. I don’t think the memories ever go away. The guilt, the shame. You wrestle with that – maybe forever. And maybe that’s how it should be. But at least you can obtain God’s forgiveness. You can build a life.”

    *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

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  7. Saad Z. Hashmi

    Salaam,
    Vey absorbing story. I am desperately waiting for the next part.
    I read all the parts of the 3 interconnected stories in a single day and now it is very hard to resist the urge to read till the end.
    May Allah bless you and all the MuslimMatters team.
    JazakAllahaKhairah!

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  8. Bint A

    Really compelling read, as usual masha’Allah

    Enjoying the length now, as well as the character development of the mysterious Hassan; also the glimpses into the complicated past of both characters are really adding to the story

    Appreciate your efforts to provide us with quality islamic literature! Thank you

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  9. saffiyah

    Assalaamu Alaikum brother Wael! Masha’Allah! Excellent! Now I know I can enjoy the story which is islamically related. The themes are amazing too: war, love, religion, death, and friendship to extract a few. Please keep it up. You’re bringing something halal entertainment. Yay! I’m visiting this site more often to check for part four. Jzk.

    Saffiyah
    KSA

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Thank you Saffiyah. I was worried that the war scenes might be a little too graphic or gruesome, but people seem to appreciate those scenes.

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  10. tauqir

    Great series mashaAllah.. All I could think of while I read this part, was all those men and women who went to defend the Syrian people and how their lives have completely changed as well.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Yes, I think about that too. I’m sure there are many, many stories of heroism and sacrifice happening in Syria right now. I hope that someone is documenting those stories, and that one day they will be told. May Allah grant the Syrian people relief and peace.

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  11. Nusaibah

    I had been hooked after Pieces of a Dream! I would wait every week for the next part to come out and now finally a year after the Deal, it’s A lion is Born! I’ll be so sad when this series is over!

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  12. Sarah B.

    As’salaamu Alaikum w Rahmatullah wa Barakatu,

    Masha’Allah! This next part of the story is wonderful! I love how you touched on the struggle Louis has with feeling so much guilt over his past. Many converts have issues with that and it is more of the forgetting than being forgiven that seems to be the tough part. Though as we learn about the immense mercy of Allah we learn that we should be first to forgive and forget because we want to be forgiven by Allah and of He is most forgiving then we should forgive easily. Forgetting is tougher but in time it becomes easier insha’Allah. I love seeing Louis making a change in his life and trying to learn more about coming to Islam. I get so enveloped in these stories, masha’Allah you’re a very talented writer. Keep up the amazing work! :)

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Sarah, wa alaykum as-salam WRB. I’ve been hearing this from converts, that I framed aspects of their experience accurately, and I’m really glad Alhamdulillah, because I am not a convert myself (not precisely, anyway) and I wouldn’t want to misrepresent their spiritual journeys.

      I suppose I’ve experienced elements of the convert’s experience, as I was not raised with any Islamic knowledge or understanding, and was not introduced to Islamic teaching until I was 14 years old. I didn’t take to it right away, and even when I accepted it there were elements that I struggled with for some time. So maybe I have a little insight, Insha’Allah.

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