Short Story | Finding Dawud
I had been looking for my roommate Dawud for an hour and a half before I finally found him. I had checked the dorm, the campus library, the prayer hall and the cafeteria. If I had been smarter, I would’ve checked the bar first.
Sister Hina had called my cell phone at 8 o’clock that evening, and I admit I was surprised when I heard her on the end of the line. I never thought she would’ve called a brother, she’s not that kind of sister.
“Brother Asim,” she said quietly, “I think you should find Brother Dawud.”
Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah
Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.
The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.
I asked her if everything was ok. In the two seconds of silence that followed, I could practically see her chewing her lower lip the way she always did when she was nervous. “Well, umm, see Shereen kinda screamed at him in the middle of the MSA meeting and then she left.“
Shereen, she was engaged to Dawud. Actually, Shereen got engaged to David, who then took his promise to convert to Islam for her seriously, and then became Dawud.
“Was it bad?” I asked.
I heard Sister Hina exhale loudly.
“God. By the time she stopped screaming at him, I was ready to cry. He sat there looking dead for ten minutes after she left, and then he walked out too.”
I was thinking to myself when Hina said, “So, are you going to find him? I think he needs, you know, somebody right now.”
“I’ll take care of him. Thanks for letting me know. Assalamu alaykum.”
Hina said, “Walaykum assalam” softly and hung up. I closed my binder and gave up on the idea of getting any studying in tonight. I had skipped the MSA meeting precisely because I had wanted to study, but so much for that idea. I may have been the amir, but the MSA practically ran itself and they didn’t need me to oversee the meeting, especially when I had a big test coming up.
I decided to look around in the dorm first. First I went to Muzammil’s room, but then I remembered that Muzammil would be at the meeting. So then I went around to Josh’s room to see if Dawud was there. The door was open. Josh wasn’t in, but his roommate Sergei was there, picking at Josh’s guitar and looking not entirely there. Sergei was a bit of a pot head.
“Where’s Josh?” I said, not wanting to waste any words or inhale any more than I had to.
Sergei turned his head to me deliberately and said, “I think you mean, what’s Josh? That’s a good question? What exactly is Josh? And who let it happen?”
“Is Josh with Dawud?”
“Is Josh with Dawud?“ Sergei began to giggle, “Don’t be stupid man, Josh is dating that fat chick from Champaign-Urbana!”
I closed the door and went back to my room to put my coat on. The walk from the dorm to the library was cold. It hadn’t snowed yet, but the wind whipping off the lake felt cold enough to crack my face in half. My teeth were rattling around in my mouth and my fingers were blue by the time I got inside. I looked around the reading room and didn’t see Dawud. I asked the librarian if a white guy with a beard, a prayer cap, and a tattoo had come in tonight. She looked at me uncertainly and said no.
So I left the library and went to the prayer hall. It was just a room with a carpet and a bookshelf, but it was warm and quiet and Dawud liked hanging out there. I hung out there too, it was a good place to relax. He wasn’t there though, no one was. The isha prayer had been finished a long time ago.
My last stop was the cafeteria. That took a long time to check. It was a huge hall packed with a visually confusing jumble of chairs and tables and people. It was impossible just to scan the crowd and find someone. You had to do a table-by-table search without somehow staring and freaking out the people who were eating there. Plus the smell made me feel nauseous and the heat was getting to be too much since I still had my coat on. I left after half an hour. I went back to my room and called a few mutual friends. None of them had seen Dawud.
I went to the beach and walked up and down the strip of sand that unofficially belonged to the college campus. The wind was blowing so hard up my shirt and down my neck that I might as well have left my coat at the dorm. I didn’t see anyone the whole time; they were all probably inside, warmer than I was. I figured Dawud would have to be insane to be outside on a night like this, and since he was sane the last time I checked, I decided to head back to the dorm.
I made a quick du’a that Dawud would be ok, and I went back to studying. At ten o’clock, Hina called me again. “I found him,” she said urgently, “He’s sitting at the bus stop in front of the McDonald’s, you know, by the EL tracks. You know where I mean?”
“Yeah yeah, I know where you mean. You were looking for him too?”
“Uh well,” Hina said hurriedly, “I was just driving and I saw him, so I called you. He’s kinda obvious….”
Yeah, Dawud was pretty obvious looking. He was almost six foot three, his hair was blonde but his beard was red. He had two dragon tattoos, one on each forearm, and numerous holes marking where his ears used to be pierced all the way up to the top. He also wore a white prayer cap. He never took it off. “What’s the point?” he would say, smiling, “I’ll just have to put it back on when I pray like an hour from now.”
“I’ll get him,” I said. ‘Thanks. Assalamu alaykum.”
I put my coat back on and left. The bus stop that Hina was talking about was five minutes from my dorm. I could see Dawud from a block away, huge and glaringly white under the streetlight, sitting on the bench without a coat on. He was in short sleeves, too. When he had left the room earlier this afternoon he had been wearing a sweater and a jacket. I wondered where his sweater had gone. He was no longer wearing his prayer cap.
I parked the car and jogged across the street. “Hey Dawud,” I said, “What are you doing here without a coat on?”
Dawud raised his hands and shrugged elaborately, and I could tell right away that he was drunk. I had seen him drunk often enough before, when he was David the Drinker and not Dawud the Disciple, as his former friends called him these days. I hadn’t seen him drunk for months though; it had been five, maybe six since he had given it all up and taken shahada – the partying, the smoking, even the clubbing and drinking. The drinking had been hard. Before Shereen, David was the kind of guy who made it to the end of every beer-bong at every party. He had been proud of that and didn’t care at all what kind of stupidity he had been up to when he was drunk. In the land of drunken college goofs, he had been king.
And he was definitely drunk now. He grinned at me wildly and threw his arm out, gesturing to me to take a seat. I sat down. “Guess what,” he said, then rubbing the side of his face. “Guess what happened to me.”
“I already know brother. Come on let’s go back to the dorm and talk about it there.”
“No no, I’m ok here man. The guy driving the bus said this was my stop, so I’m stopping here.”
“You’re gonna freeze to death.”
“I ain’t cold,” Dawud said indignantly.
“But I’m cold.”
“To hell with you. Lissen, guess what happened to me today. I got drunk today.”
“I figured that out already,” I said, standing up and pulling on his arm. He held his arm out and let me pull on it, but he didn’t budge.
“You know what else?”
“What?” I said, putting my arm around his shoulders to hoist him up. He still wouldn’t budge.
“Shereen hates me.” Suddenly Dawud stopped smiling. “She called me a card-carrying Islamo-fascist. Asim, what’s an Islamo-fascist?”
“I don’t have a clue. Come on, my car’s over there. I’ll take you back to the dorm.”
“I don’t wanna go back to the dorm,” he said belligerently. “I wanna know what the hell I am that I shouldn’t be that Shereen should hate me that, that-”
Dawud broke off, too confused to continue his own sentence. I gave his arm a final tug and then gave up and sat down next to him. Dawud reached into his pant’s pocket and pulled out his prayer cap, and then put it on. Then he crossed his tattooed arms over his chest.
“I thought I was being good Asim. I was really trying.”
“You have been good. You’re one of the best people I know.”
Dawud looked up at me and grinned. He was red in the face and smelled heavily of beer as he fell onto me and almost suffocated. I patted him on the back a few times and then tried to prop him back up again. I don’t know whether he was falling asleep or just being affectionate, but I had a hard time getting him to sit up.
“Let’s get back to the dorm and sleep it off. Things will be better in the morning.”
“No they won’t man,” Dawud said, shaking his head emphatically. “Look I may be drunk but I’m not stupid. I know what just happened, my Shereen just dumped me and now I’m drunk. Did I already say I was drunk?”
“Yeah, you already said that.”
“I did everything she wanted me to, you know? She said stop smoking, so I stopped smoking. She said no more other girls, so I kissed them all goodbye. I really did. I kissed Anna, but Sophie slapped me.”
“Your fingers are blue, at least wear my coat.”
Dawud laughed and pointed a finger in my face. “Now who’s drunk? I couldn’t wear your coat on my left leg!”
It was true, Dawud was a head taller than me and at least a foot wider.
“She said no clubbing, and I was like, what the hell, I met you at a club! But I quit anyway.” Dawud suddenly became very solemn. “Then she said no drinking. And I stopped. I did.”
Dawud stood up. I stood up quickly, hoping to catch him if he decided to fall or run out into the street. “What?” I said.
“Let’s go, it’s too hot here.”
I took Dawud back to my car and pushed him into the passenger seat. The ride back to the dorm went quietly, and when we had arrived and I had managed to push Dawud into his bed, he fell asleep immediately, still wearing the prayer cap.
When I woke up the next morning, late, I was in such a hurry that I forgot to check on Dawud. When I got back to the dorm after my classes, he wasn’t there. I didn’t see him in the prayer hall for either dhuhr, asr, or maghrib. By dinner I had started to worry. I pulled out my cell phone and called Sister Hina.
“Hello? Assalamu alaykum ,” I said, “Did you see Dawud this morning?”
“Walaykum assalam,” she said, obviously worried, “No, I didn’t, but you know that the lecture hall holds over two hundred people. He could’ve come in late and sat in the back and I wouldn’t have seen him.”
“What about Shereen? Have you seen her?”
Hina paused. I should’ve asked someone else about Shereen, but I forgot. Shereen and Hina were both cousins and polar opposites. I don’t think they could stand to be around each other.
Hina calmly said, “When I left the study hall this afternoon I saw her there.”
“Do you know her number?”
Sister Hina gave me Shereen’s number and I said thanks and hung up. I was relieved that she had given it to me so easily, but I don’t know why I should‘ve been worried to begin with. Hina didn’t have a mean bone in her body, really. I think she was incapable of scowling. The one time I ever saw her offended was when a bunch of Bible-thumping Christian missionaries crashed one of our MSA picnics. There are thousands, if not millions of very reasonable Christians out there who, if nothing else, make for an interesting conversation on a Sunday afternoon, but these three weren’t members of that club. They were part of the Jesus Saves, You’re Going To Hell, Repent and Be Washed in the Blood of The Lamb club.
The picnic was separated, so the one male missionary came over to our table and the two female missionaries went over to where the MSA sisters were sitting on a blanket in the shade and eating and chatting and playing chess.
I don’t know what the female missionaries were saying, but it was probably the same thing their male counterpart was. Your Koran is inspired by the devil. The Bible is love and truth. Jesus loves you. Jesus saves. Our MSA is a pretty laid-back group, so we made a few attempts at intelligent religious discourse without getting offended. But the missionary wasn’t interested in discussing the logic of the Trinity with us, he just kept telling us to be saved. Well, that gets tired real fast, and some of the brothers were starting to get angry. I was trying to figure out a way of getting rid of him when I heard a scream come from the direction where the sisters were sitting.
I got up quickly and went to see what was going on. The rest of the brothers, and the missionary, followed behind me. What I saw was just amazing, SubhanAllah. The sisters were on their feet, every one of them, and facing off with the two female missionaries. Most of the sisters looked shocked, several of them looked angry, two of them looked purple. Hina and Alma both, they were dripping with grape soda. Some of the brothers had large plastic cups of the same purple soda in their hands, and their eyes went from their glasses to the girls’ stained scarves and shirts, trying to figure things out.
One of the other female missionaries, her name tag said Shana, drew herself up indignantly and pointed a long finger at Hina and Alma. “They were cussing at Jesus!”
Alma looked so mad I thought she would explode. “I wasn’t cussing at Jesus, I was cussing at you! Who said you could crash our picnic with your bullsh-”
Hina stepped in front of Alma and shook her head. “This is a misunderstanding,“ she said, holding her palm out towards Shana apologetically, “We did not mean to insult you, and we would definitely not be swearing at Prophet Jesus, salAllahu Aleihi wasallim.”
Shana, whose face had softened slightly when Hina began apologizing, regained its hardness the moment Hina said the blessing for the Prophet in Arabic.
“I heard you say something,” she said resolutely, her lips pressed into a thin line.
“And then,” Alma said, seething, “You threw a glass of pop in our faces.”
I looked to the guy. His face had colored and he had wrapped his arms around the third female missionary protectively. May Allah forgive me, but I wanted to drown all three of them in grape soda for their stupidity. Fortunately, Hina took the initiative so that I wouldn’t have to.
“Listen, while we are always open to discuss religion, we don’t appreciate you coming here to argue and tell us we’re all going to hell. And we’re all human, and sometimes humans lose their cool.” Hina looked for a moment at Alma, who was still seething. “And while I’m fairly sure we’ve both sworn at each other, no one has here has been swearing at the Prophet Jesus, alihis-salam.”
Hina blinked a few times and then wiped away a drop of grape soda that was trickling past her eye. The missionary with the nametag ‘Amy’ sniffed and burrowed into Richard’s shirt. The soda-throwing Shana shifted her body so that it was in a slightly less aggressive pose. Richard shot me a suspicious look and then said, “Come on ladies, I think it’s time we were going.”
Sister Hina wiped her hand on a dry part of her skirt and extended it towards Shana. Shana stared at it, and then her, and turned on her heel and stalked off. Hina was left standing there with her hand out.
I’m sure Hina had been burning on the inside like the rest of us, but she never showed it. She moved her hand slowly back to her side and shook her head. I’m sure she dealt with Shereen in the same way, with very quiet patience. I prayed that Allah would grant me the same and I dialed Shereen’s number. She answered the phone by saying, “Yeah?”
“Assalamu alaykum Shereen, this is Brother Asim.”
There were a few uncomfortable seconds of silence as I registered the tone of her voice and the snapping of her chewing gum.
“I’m looking for Brother Dawud. Have you seen him?”
“No. Anything else?”
“No,” I said sharply, letting her know that I was just as irritated with her. “Assalamu alaykum.”
She hung up. I shook my head. I had never really liked Shereen before, but now I was starting to hate her.
“She’s got these eyes man, these big black eyes that are deeper than forever…” Dawud had said to me one day a few months back, after he became my roommate but before I met Shereen. He was waxing poetic with both his feet on the wall above his bed. “And she’s always talking about Islam and stuff, she’s trying to make me a better person. I’m gonna change for her, I’m gonna do it man, I’m gonna make her proud.”
I wondered how the heavenly creature he described could have tolerated David the Drinker long enough to win his heart and then convert him to Islam. To tell the truth, for a long time I was very jealous of what he had, and I avoided any discussion of Shereen, and never asked to meet her.
I did get to meet her though, and without even asking for it. I had been waiting for Dawud outside his class because he and I were supposed to attend a lecture at the Muslim Community Center. We were going to take my car, pick up two other brothers and then all go together.
Dawud came out on time, and we started walking towards my car. I had been looking ahead and listening to him talk when I suddenly heard him gasp and stop. When I turned around, I saw two hands with long, bronze fingernails covering Dawud’s eyes. He was grinning from ear to ear as he put his hands over them and said, “You think you surprised me? I knew you were coming! Didn’t I, Asim?”
The girl who had snuck up behind him pulled her hands free and both Dawud and I turned to face her. I was shocked when I saw her, not because I had never seen anyone like her, but because she was not what I was expecting to see. She had long, straight hair that was black at the roots but orange on the ends. Her eyes were heavily made-up to look at least twice their natural size, and her waxy-looking lips matched her nail polish. She was wearing a tiny black t-shirt, it wasn’t a belly shirt, but it could have been. Her jeans were tight too. I lowered my gaze more out of shame than habit.
I had been expecting one of our MSA’s many jewels, beautiful, intelligent, modest sisters that turned a brother‘s thoughts, not to lust or fancy, but to loving marriage and fatherhood and praying jamaat together, standing shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet. I know it sounds uncouth, but the feeling you got from looking at these sisters came from the heart, not the pants. That’s what I was expecting, but that isn’t what I got. What I saw was what we sometimes call ‘Brown Trash.’ I can say this because I’m Pakistani too, and once upon I time, my ear was pierced and I was brown trash too. And although, by the Mercy of Allah, I never dated one, I did chase after a fair share of orange-heads; girls born with black hair trying to be girls with blonde hair, and ending up as girls with orange hair instead. I’m not biased against Pakistanis, seeing as how I myself am Pakistani, but I have to shamefully admit that when we go bad, we don’t seem to hold anything back.
She reached out and fingered one of the buttons on Dawud’s shirt. “Where are you going?” I heard her ask coyly.
“To MCC, there’s gonna be a guest lecturer there, Siraj Wahhaj. That guy is awesome, MashaAllah. You want to come?”
Shereen wrinkled her nose and playfully pushed Dawud. “I hear lectures in class. This is after class.”
Dawud grinned. “Come on,” she said, grabbing his shirt with both hands and walking backwards, “Take me out to lunch.”
Dawud shrugged at me and headed off with his arm around her shoulders.
I had seen Shereen many times since then but had not come to like her any more than I did on that first day. In fact, I was liking her less and less, especially since last night. And I still didn’t know where Dawud was.
I decided to drive down to the arcade. It was kind of childish for two university students to pump quarters into video games, but Dawud and I used to go there a lot. I thought for sure that he would be at one of his old hang-outs, and I was going to visit all of them, except for the bar.
As soon as I walked into the arcade I was hit with the familiar smell and sound of it. The air was thick with cigarette smoke, explosions, crashes, beeps, howls and cheers – from the machines and from the guys standing around the machines. I found Dawud, finally, brandishing a blue plastic gun at a screen full of the living dead. He was clicking away at the trigger and the zombies on screen were flying to bloody little electronic bits. I watched him for a few minutes. He was so intent on the game that he didn’t notice me, even when I put seventy-five cents into the machine and picked up the other gun, the red one, and started shooting along with him.
We fought the undead for a while. They popped up on the both sides of the screen in tandem, and it was our job to shoot them before they got a hit off of either one of us. I was doing pretty good, but Dawud was missing a lot of shots. I took a few hits because I was shooting at the zombies on his side of the screen instead of mine.
We were both killed at roughly the same time when a fat zombie threw an axe at us and ended the game. I put my gun back into its plastic holster waited for Dawud to do the same. He lowered the gun, slowly, and then set it down on the console instead of putting it away properly. He looked up at me, and said, “Oh,” and then looked away quickly.
“Come on,” I said to him, hitching my thumb in the direction of the door. “Let’s get out of here. My eyes are burning.”
Dawud put his hands into his coat pockets and followed me out. I got into the car and unlocked the passenger side for him. He sat down, still not looking at me. I wasn’t sure of what to say. I couldn’t just punch him in the shoulder and say something cheesy like, “Dawud, you may have lost your fiancée, but you don’t have to lose your faith!”
I must have been thinking for a long time, because I heard Dawud clear his throat and say in a hoarse voice, “Uh, Asim. Where are we going?”
I put the key into the ignition and started the car. “I don’t know yet. You tell me.”
Dawud nodded. I waited for him to tell me a destination, and when that failed, I just put the car into reverse and left the parking lot. I didn’t know where I was going when I started driving, but I figured that anything far away from the campus was good. I got onto Lake Shore Drive and put on some speed. Dawud seemed to relax a bit as I was driving. He leaned back into his seat and sighed. Just as we were passing Soldier Field, Dawud said to me, “If you’re waiting for me to start talking then you can just find me a Dunkin Donuts. You don’t have to drive all the way to Indiana.”
I nodded and tried not to smile. I turned the car around and found my way to a Dunkin Donuts. I parked and we walked in together. Then Dawud sat down while I ordered us a dozen donuts and two black coffees. I brought the cups and boxes to the table and set them down. Dawud opened the box immediately and found what he was looking for, a Boston-cream filled, and bit it in half. He closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose as he was chewing. I don’t know too many people over the age of ten who enjoy donuts as much as he does.
When he had finished his first donut and followed it with three more, he wiped his sticky fingers on a napkin, took a sip of his coffee and said, “Thanks Asim, you’re awesome.”
Yep, that’s me, Awesome Asim. I nodded at him and said, “So, you gonna talk to me now or do I have to put more donuts into the slot?”
Dawud nodded solemnly and picked up a Sunday Special. He stared at it and said, “You’re not going to kick me out of the MSA, are you?”
I shook my head. “What for?”
He blinked a few times while still contemplating the donut. “For being a sorry drunk son of a-” Here he looked up at me and smiled. This was an old game. I was supposed to interrupt him at all the right times so that all of the obscenities were replaced with me yelling out, “Dawud!”
“Dawud…” I said.
“And a lazy, worthless piece of-”
“And a -”
“Dawud, stop!” I said this a little too loudly. He looked up at me, surprised.
“I want you to be serious for once and talk to me. What’s going on with you and Shereen?”
Dawud looked at me wearily and then crammed the entire donut into his mouth and started chewing it. I had to wait for at least three minutes for him to swallow it down and then drink some coffee. When he finished, he wiped his mouth daintily on a napkin and then set it in his lap. Then he grew serious.
“Shereen broke off our engagement,” he said quietly.
“Because…because….” Here Dawud blinked and looked down at the table between us.
“You don’t have to tell me the reason,” I said.
“It’s because I wouldn’t touch her.”
“You wouldn’t what?” I was incredulous. That couldn’t possibly be the real reason.
Dawud’s face darkened. “Nobody’s supposed to touch Shereen like that, not even me until we’re married. Or, until we were gonna get married. And I told her that and she got mad as hell. Obviously I wouldn’t kiss her either. She almost killed me for that, but I was like, Baby, I want to save it all up so being married will be special. She was like, ok whatever, but she still didn’t dump me. That was like a month ago.”
I nodded and Dawud continued.
“Then she started getting on my case about everything. About my beard, about the MSA meetings, even about praying. I was in the prayer hall last Friday standing in the last line, waiting for you to begin when she comes up behind me and puts her arms around me. I pushed her away, I know I shouldn’t have but what am I supposed to do? I’m standing up and about to pray Jumah and she comes up in front of everyone and does that, what was she expecting me to do?”
“What happened then?” I asked and took a bite of my donut.
“You started the prayer and I said Allahu Akbar. She must’ve left cuz when the prayer was finished she was gone. She didn’t say anything to me then. She’d been mad at me, not talking to me since then, and yesterday the uh…stuff, hit the fan. She came into the middle of the MSA meeting wearing this red shirt and these low-cut jeans. Everyone stopped talking when she came in. She sat down next to me and put her hand on my thigh. Everybody tried to ignore it and but she kept messing around. She was doing it on purpose too, dammit.”
Dawud rubbed his forehead with his sticky fingers and then rubbed his sticky forehead with a napkin exasperatedly. He continued, gesturing angrily with the napkin.
“She was definitely doing it on purpose. I’ve never seen this shirt before, and she’s never come to an MSA meeting before, and suddenly she dances in there shaking her butt like a damn hooker and putting her hand up on my thigh.”
“What did you do?”
“I pushed it off. And then she stood up and slapped me. Then she started screaming at me, at all of us. About how we’re a bunch of damn fundamentalists and we think we’re all righteous but she knows that we’re all just a bunch of liars and showoffs and hypocrites. She said some pretty harsh stuff, and she just went on and on for a while, then she left. I was just stunned. I’d never seen that side of her before. I mean, she got me into this Islam thing but then she goes and starts screaming about it. If it’s anyone’s fault that I’m a Muslim then it’s hers.”
I swirled my coffee around in the bottom of the paper cup and waited for Dawud to continue, but he just sat there looking angry. I wanted to ask Dawud if he was going to stay a Muslim. I knew it was Shereen who got him to convert, but she had nothing to do with what he did afterward. All she did was change his name and introduce him to her parents. After that he sought out the MSA himself, taught himself how to pray and did everything he thought was right without anyone reminding him or forcing him. I hope Allah forgives me for saying this, but he was already a better Muslim than half of the ones who attended the MSA meetings. He never lied, he never lost his temper. Sure, he was as big a goofball as ever, but goofiness is not a sin. Shereen was his only obvious indiscretion, and he had even cut down on her.
“Do you regret converting, Dawud?” I asked tentatively.
Dawud put both of his arms on the table and leaned forward, hanging his head. As I stared at his sleeves I pictured the tattoos that I knew were hidden underneath. Two big ones, dragons curling all the way around from his wrist to his elbow in an explosion of blue flames. I was afraid that by asking about Dawud’s faith instead of his love life I had made myself look callous, or overly fundamentalist, like I didn’t care about him so much as I cared about him staying in the MSA. Maybe it was callous, but Dawud’s status as a Muslim was worth more than a hundred Shereens any day. Dawud didn’t answer my question. I felt sort of ill.
I picked up another donut. Dawud did the same and finished it in two bites. He swallowed and licked his fingers and then leaned back against the booth. He was thinking. He frowned when he was trying to think, and he bounced his knee underneath the table. I got up and brought us back more coffee.
He took his cup and held it, not drinking, but just looking at it. I peeled back the plastic tab on top of my cup and took a sip. Then Dawud said, “After I left the meeting I went to her apartment. She was there, sitting on her bed and putting on lipstick, I could still tell she was mad as hell though. I saw her getting ready to go out in the stupid red shirt and I just lost it. I screamed at her, I really did. I was like what the -uh, friggin hell, you tell me to convert to Islam and then you tell me not to practice it. You don’t do half the things you tell me I’m supposed to be doing and then you come to an MSA meeting dressed like a damn prostitute and start messing with me in front of everybody. Then she said screw my MSA and my Islam. And she called me an Islamo-fascist and told me that just because I had to be a Muslim doesn’t mean I had to be a saint. She said I was taking it all too seriously, that I was making her look bad in front of her family cuz we were all some sort of extremists.”
I must’ve made a face then, because Dawud looked up at me earnestly and said, “But that’s not what I think of the MSA. Really it’s not. I never thought you guys were freaky fundus or anything. Not even when you thought I was a damn drunkard.” Dawud grinned at me and I relaxed.
“You know what I’m worried about Dawud?”
“That Shereen is gonna ask you to choose between her and Islam.”
Dawud laughed out loud. It was good to see him genuinely smiling about something, even though I didn’t see anything funny in the situation.
“And you’re afraid that I would choose Shereen?”
I nodded. He made it seem silly now, but yesterday it was a scary thought.
“She never gave me a choice Asim. I think it’s because she knows she already lost.”
Alhamdulillah. I nodded. But I still had my worries.
“Why did you go off and get drunk?”
Dawud’s smile fell and he sunk into the booth a few inches. He started bouncing his knee again.
“I got drunk…,” he said gradually, “I got drunk because it felt good to get drunk. Well, maybe the first drink was because I was mad about losing Shereen, but the next ten drinks were all about saying to hell with everything. And I am sorry I did it, I really am.” His eyes suddenly filled with tears, and he turned his face away. “I used to hope that because I was a convert I had a clean slate, and I would never, ever drink alcohol as a Muslim.”
“I blew it.” His voice was shaking. “I screwed up and I blew it and I put a huge red X in my book, but I’m never going to do it again, I swear to God, never. I still got my weaknesses you know. It’s still hard for me sometimes. I might stumble every now and then, but I’m never gonna fall down for good. Come on Asim,” he said, looking up and quickly wiping his face with his sleeve, “you think I’m stupid or something?”
I grinned at him and nodded. Dawud laughed and said, “Come on, let’s go home.”
I slid out of the booth, and we went back to my car. I opened the door from the inside and let him in, and then I buckled up. He turned to me when he sat down, and he said, “You know what, Asim?”
Just then my cell phone rang. I looked at the display before I answered it. It was Sister Hina.
Muslims say Bismillah when they begin things. It’s beginning things in the name of God, so that God blesses your intentions and your actions and keeps you from evil.
May Allah forgive me for my sins, but I said Bismillah and I handed the phone to Dawud and told him to answer it.
And three months later they were engaged.
Yep, that’s me, awesome Asim.
Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah
Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.
The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.
Leave a Reply
IOK Ramadan: Reflections On Allah’s Signs | Heart To Heart Ep. 4
Conflict Resolution Starts This Ramadan – Navigating Difficult Conversations With Ihsaan
Please, Be Gentle With God’s Guests In Ramadan I Sh Mohammad Elshinawy
IOK Ramadan: Dunya vs Akhirah | Heart To Heart Ep. 3
Welcoming Ramadan In A New Environment – Making It Feel Like ‘Home’
From The Chaplain’s Desk: Engage With The Quran
Podcast | Happily Ever After (Ep 2) – What Are The Limits Of Wifely Obedience?
Breakfast With The Khans [Act Two] – Truth & Lies
[Podcast] Man 2 Man: Why Western Academics Hate Hadith
Obedience To Parents And Its Limits
IOK Ramadan: The Virtues of Reciting the Quran | Heart to Heart Ep. 1
Domestic Violence Series: Marital Disputes, Ego, And Shame
The Kuwaiti Shaykh Who Told Me A Story
The Guards Who Became Muslim After Guantanamo
My Hardest Ramadan Ever
#Life1 week ago
Foster Love For The Blessed Month With These 5 Fun And Easy Ramadan Crafts For Kids
#Islam1 week ago
The Ramadan Of The Early Muslims
#Culture1 week ago
This Ramadan, Delete TikTok Before It Deletes You
#Islam2 weeks ago
[Podcast] Man 2 Man: Beast Mode – Spiritual Preparation For Ramadan
December 18, 2010 at 11:37 PM
It is a bit too descriptive and waxy..?
Like I get the piont why you wrote this, it suddenly didn’t had to look like a romantic novel?
I was hoping to learn something about da’wah and … it’s a brutal reality no doubt but still.. I wish the unnecessary bits were taken out.. it’s too long and isn’t a fan-non fiction page if you please..
MM guys, seriously, what’s up with you?
December 18, 2010 at 11:49 PM
The ending was good :)
December 19, 2010 at 11:49 PM
brutal reality helps put things in perspective. I really enjoyed it.
December 20, 2010 at 1:45 PM
Disagree with ‘Someone’ overall, the more descriptive it is, the more involved you become.
As long as it doesn’t help the reader to imagine the physical image of a woman.. which some parts did too, unfortunately.
Halal Fiction Stories should have their own section on MM, for the super creative writers.
July 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM
i agree with brother Ali,
i liked the discription, how everyone should have hope in Allah and his forgivenss and mercy, its a really cute story mashAllah :)
it helps you realize that its okay to fall…but remember to pick yourself up and try your best.
perhaps the discription of the women helps us sisters better understand what we are not sapose to do. Even though we should not have that image in our mind…im sure that was not what sister Abez wanted us to take out of the story, its about the overall story, which i thik is well written, thoughout, and cute mashaAllah :)
i will inshaAllah keep you in my dua sister Abez, remember me in your dua too <3
December 19, 2010 at 12:01 AM
MashaAllah. May Allah guide us all and keep us steadfast.ameen
December 19, 2010 at 1:39 AM
When’s the book coming out Abez? :)
I like the title- how Dawud was found and found himself and his Islam. I have heard real life stories similar to this of people who were introduced to Islam by men/women they were dating. They fall in love with the deen and are dropped by the very same loved ones who hate how Muslim they have become- Ajeeb.
Looking forward to more
December 19, 2010 at 1:42 AM
Mashallah, that what was a beautiful story.
December 19, 2010 at 2:30 AM
That. Was. One. Awesome. Story. Sr Abez!! :O Jazaakillah khayr for writing it and making me think deeply about faith and also find something to smile about this Sunday afternoon. :)
December 19, 2010 at 2:38 AM
MashaAllah. The story and writing style were captivating. I was hooked until the end.
My only disappointment was reading the word “fiction”.
December 19, 2010 at 3:37 AM
beautiful story mashaAllah! great ending, thanks for a good read!
December 19, 2010 at 6:12 AM
Sounds like an soap opera, however the end ponit is so true, in the current climate we will be asked to choose between Islam and all the other worldly things, wheather their women, wealth, position, status, jobs etc etc. Inshallah Muslims will take the same option this brother did and they will pick Islam no matter the cost.
May Allah (swt) bless the marriage of Br Dawud & Sis. Hina
December 19, 2010 at 3:58 PM
you do understand that this is fiction, right? right?
December 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM
LOLOL!!! Ameen to your Du’a Brother Mohammad ;)
December 19, 2010 at 6:49 AM
I LOVE IT!!!!!! =DDDD
Masha’Allah… what I’ve been waiting for… bretty blease keep writing more stories like this, because I’m a fiction junkie and I need my halaal fix =)
December 22, 2010 at 10:44 PM
Wheel of Time Series: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. You’ll thank me later.
December 19, 2010 at 7:09 AM
The story was very nice and kept me excited till I reached the end of the story…..I would just like to clarify that the end where its written
“Just then my cell phone rang. I looked at the display before I answered it. It was Sister Hina.
and I handed the phone to Dawud and told him to answer it.
And three months later they were engaged.”
As far as the Islamic rulings are concerned about marriage or approaching someone you really love….the parents have a major role to play..the interested brother or sister HAS TO CONTACT THE PARENTS …… this is the only problem I have with the story
Brother its well written…..I was waiting for sumthing like this for a long time..May Allah S.W.T. reward you immensely for this…AMEEN!
December 19, 2010 at 6:13 PM
Maybe that is what happened, how do you know it didnt? Maybe Hina just said, I just wanted to make sure you were ok..and they hung up and later on he realized she was the one and he went to visit her parents! Lets give our fictional brothers & sisters the benefit of the doubt and assume they tried to do everything in the best way! The story already mentions in the start that Hina wasnt the type of girl to be calling boys, it was only because it was a serious case that she did
July 10, 2011 at 5:10 PM
im pretty sure sister Abez is a sister…not a brother..
December 19, 2010 at 10:55 AM
An elegantly written piece. I greatly appreciated the descriptive length. This is what helps us lose ourselves in the world of the story. I felt like I was there with Brother Asim! Amazing story, really. Keep it up, and InshaAllah may Allah (swt) reward you for your efforts. May Allah (swt) give other writers the inspiration to write for Islam, and spread heartwarming messages as these. Aameen
December 19, 2010 at 4:32 PM
Alhamdulillah great story! Yeah I was disappointed that it was fiction.
Guys chillax, its not like he picked up the phone and said “hey baby, I just broke up with my girlfriend, wanna get some donuts?”
And I loved the detail too. Set everything up for the ending.
December 19, 2010 at 6:11 PM
Thanks for sharing!
December 19, 2010 at 9:15 PM
Great story! It does teach one Islam, it does inspire one..
Keep it up and may Allah give you more creativity to reach out to others, captivate them and let them think…
December 19, 2010 at 9:32 PM
MashaAllah, an excellent story. I really enjoyed it. There are many beneficial lessons in it that one can learn from. I like how they are buried inside without being explicit.
December 20, 2010 at 12:32 AM
Your writing is inspiring, mash’Allah. Being able to draw people in that well takes serious talent.
Congrats on being one of the pioneers of literature that has an epic future, insh’Allah.
December 20, 2010 at 12:43 AM
JazakAllahuKheiran, I’m glad so many people enjoyed it, and I appreciate the feedback. :)
And I would like to say that having based Hina on a real person, I am fairly sure that when Asim handed her the phone, she was taken aback, said salam, and was glad he was ok, and then hung up. But that was enough to put her on the map, and later Asim told Dawud how worried she had been about him. And they all lived halal-ly ever after.
The end. :)
July 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM
i like that ending. <3
you are inspirational sister mashaAllah
December 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM
Truly a masterpiece! I was glued to the screen throughout. Your writing was so captivating that in one of the comments above someone actually made a Du’a for Br. Dawud and Sis. Hina :) Not sure if it was done just for fun…
May Allah reward you for pioneering something like this and may it be a cause for similar works in the future
December 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM
I’m not normally a great fan of reading fiction generally, but I couldn’t get away from the screen until I finished this… Although I did get an urge to have some donuts midway ;)
December 22, 2010 at 12:13 PM
It’s been a few years since I wrote this, and a really, really long time since I read it. But you know what? I wanted donuts too. So I bought some :p
December 20, 2010 at 7:10 PM
I was hoping Asim and Hina would end up together
December 20, 2010 at 9:51 PM
very nice. i really enjoyed reading that!
December 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM
I really enjoyed reading that Alhamdulilah. Only thing is some of the tangents are a bit too long like the side story about the christian fundamentalists at the MSA picnic. Other then that, I really liked it.
December 20, 2010 at 11:48 PM
haha…same…I thought it would be Asim and Henna that ended up together…LOL.
Oh well.. May Allah have baraka in their fictional marriage.
December 21, 2010 at 3:42 PM
LOVED this! Ending was completely unexpected. I understand some may find some of the details to be too much, but anyone who’s been to an MSA meeting or hung out with the youth long enough can identify with the whole thing, grit and all. I look forward to reading more of your work, inshaAllah!
December 22, 2010 at 11:58 AM
Mashaallah, very talented writer. I seriously laughed out of happiness at the end of it… for Dawud and Hina that is.
I was also Shocked to read “Brown Trash”! Never heard that before.
I do also agree that it is a little tiny bit too descriptive as it could stir emotions that may lead to other, not-so-halal things
December 22, 2010 at 12:11 PM
JazakAllahuKheiran for all the great feedback- I’ve never been comfortable with the MSA picnic tangent, but felt that if I wrote it in there, I should leave it there. However, if instead of adding to the story, it detracts, then I will definitely consider removing it.
I had also thought that Shereen wasn’t too graphically described, but I stand corrected. And I will definitely reword her description so that her character is explained without being visualized, InshaAllah. I don’t know whether it’s too late to make changes to this posted version, but I’ll definitely ask the MM management if I can.
JazakAllahuKheiran to the people who brought this up. :)
December 22, 2010 at 12:28 PM
December 22, 2010 at 12:29 PM
December 22, 2010 at 4:03 PM
December 26, 2010 at 5:01 AM
Though I thoroughly enjoyed your writing (see my comment posted earlier), I did want to say I was a bit concerned about the ease with which the story (and apparently the readers) accepted the character Dawud as a suitable husband for Hina (or even Shereen).
I honestly was concerned for Dawud’s well-being, psychologically and emotionally. He clearly has some serious issues that will affect any marriage, and this is even more so in a Muslim union. That the story was presented as a “good ending” for him and Hina disturbed me greatly.
It raises some serious questions…
Technically speaking, Dawud is very likely an alcoholic, and that he “promises” not to drink again means very little if he doesn’t seek help in some way. And even with help, most alcoholics still struggle. That he turned to drinking as a Muslim, and merely after an embarrassing scene at an MSA meeting, clearly suggests that he is ill-equipped for the even greater trials marriage will bring, even with the “good” Hina.
Suppose Hina gets diagnosed with a serious disease later in their marriage… I think we all know what the answer to the “Where’s Dawud?” question will be. (In a bar or on a street corner…drunk).
Also, he has serious flaws in his character, as is alluded to when he “kissed all his old girlfriends” goodbye. Yes, these flaws were addressed with humor. But if you apply them to real life, his behavior is not so funny. And they suggest that he may struggle greatly with infidelity. And it goes without saying that he may even be carrying serious STDs, given his previous lifestyle.
It made me wonder why readers were happy and not concerned at the end, as I was.
I wonder how the readers would have reacted had “Dawud” not been a White American, but a Pakistani who had decided to “come back to Islam” or even a Black American convert with the same background and struggles as Dawud.
And those who are honest know that very few Muslims would have been “happy” for Hina in this case…
(And I doubt that “Awesome Asim” would have been seen as so awesome if he had been responsible for the union of the practicing Muslim sister Hina and a Pakistani or Black “drunk”)…
Anyway, some things to consider.
Keep up the good writing though, barakAllaahufeek. You’re very talented.
your sister in Islam
December 26, 2010 at 7:26 AM
Seems you have another story in the making, Umm Zakiyyah, “Dhoonding Mirza sahib”… :)
*dhoonding=messed up urdu for finding.
December 23, 2010 at 10:14 AM
A little too descriptive as far as Shereen’s concerned and very enjoyable where Dawud is. Good job!
December 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM
As salaamu’alaikum, Abez
MaashaaAllaah, barakAllaahufeek. I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your writing thoroughly. I was tired and needed a nap and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen! TabarakAllaah.
And I think you should leave the “MSA tangent” there; I loved it. It really added to the story and brought out the character of Hina.
As a writer myself, I love to read inspiring writing by others. May Allah bless you in your talent, guide your words in speech and in writing, and make your works ever pleasing to Him in this life and the Next.
I hope that you write books to add to the growing genre of Muslim fiction. Make Istikhaarah on it. :o)
Author of the novels If I Should Speak, A Voice, Footsteps, and Realities of Submission.
December 24, 2010 at 8:57 AM
Dear Um Zakiyyah,
I’m a big fan of your books. I actually thought that this piece of writing was yours – but am glad to hear that there are other writers out there. Insha’Allah I’d like to write some books myself – especially after I found that your books were very effective in giving good advice to Muslims in a very intelligent but indirect manner.
May Allah put Barakah in your work and give you Reward for your wonderful contribution to the Ummah.
Your sister in Islam
December 26, 2010 at 9:35 AM
Ameen! And may Allah bless your writing too!
December 25, 2010 at 9:41 AM
Wooah. I was honestly very surprised and embarrassed at reading this story. I was even more shocked and disappointed reading the comments full of gratitude and encouragement!
Iâ€™d like to say that I have the utmost respect for the author and the MM readers and my criticism is in no way a personal attack on anyone or their faith but rather itâ€™s targeted at the content in the story and the comments.
Arenâ€™t we as Muslims supposed to hide peoplesâ€™ sins as opposed to talk about them in public? Muslims (specially the youth) will read this and unconsciously compare themselves to the characters and feel secure that there are no way as bad compared to some of the characters in the story. On the other hand, other Muslims, will get the subliminal message that some of the activity mentioned above is fine because other fictional Muslims are involved in it!
Now I know many of you may respond to this comment saying that I need to wake up and smell the air and that the depiction of some of the characters is real and true. My response: in that case should each one of us write all the R-rated inappropriate real life stories weâ€™ve encountered?! This story, even by American standards, is considered PG-13 and definitely R-rated by Muslim standards. My question to the author and the people who enjoyed this story: Would you a.) share this story with your children? b.) share this story with your parents?
If the answer to any of the above is no, then realize that there are youth and parents alike on MM. Plus I believe that what is not suitable for my child to read/watch/listen automatically becomes unsuitable for me as well.
Honest question to the readers who enjoyed this story: ask yourselves if you regularly watch equal to or higher than PG-13 American movies and/or TV shows? If so, then that might explain how weâ€™ve become de-sensitized to this material and hence probably loved the Islamic undertone to an otherwise unislamic story.
My wife and I discussed this and thought that maybe since weâ€™re â€œfobsâ€, we didnâ€™t enjoy and appreciate it compared to American born Muslims? But then again, both of us attended undergrad and graduate school in the US, were heavily involved in the MSAs of our universities and didnâ€™t come across (or even close to) the situations or the characters mentioned above.
Finally, I want to state that Iâ€™m not one of the those readers who complain and whine at every article thatâ€™s posted on MM. Quite the contrary: Iâ€™ve absolutely loved all the informative and intellectually stimulating articles and comments that Iâ€™ve found here. Iâ€™ve always found MM to be a very clean and suitable website. So Iâ€™m surprised how this story passed the MM censor board and what, if any, value does it provide?
December 26, 2010 at 11:31 AM
totally agree…exactly my thoughts!!…couldn’t have said it better.
December 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM
MM doesn’t necessarily have a censor board, we review guest submissions but our authors are given much leeway in what they choose to post. That being said, I’d also rather not see this story on MM. We at MM do not always agree on every single post and no single post represents the views and opinions of each person associated with MM, and it is this ability to provide differing viewpoints that is one of the great strengths of MM in my opinion.
AbÃ» MÃ»sÃ¢ Al-á¸¤abashÃ®
December 26, 2010 at 12:55 PM
MÃ¢ shÃ¢ AllÃ¢h I really enjoyed this. Nice work.
December 28, 2010 at 12:09 PM
This is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Splendid work done.
JazakAllah Khair to the writer.
December 31, 2010 at 3:51 AM
Finally got around to reading this story. First, let me say the story was an excellent read, made me feel all good and bubbly, especially the ending. The plot was great, and you’ve done an excellent job in bringing out issues MSAs are dealing with, without turning into a preachy social commentator, something which I appreciate because I tend to be saturated with talks from the same people with the same social commentary (but i do appreciate the need to repeat a message to different audiences, so this is more a personal problem, not a problem with the social commentators, but I digress).
About the negative, most of what I would say in the negative is in your writing mechanics (editing, cleaning sentences up, etc) and story pacing. For that, I’d recommend Zinsser’s “On Writing Well”.
Then there’s the comments on this thread. I normally wouldn’t, but the critical comments need some criticism (so please humor me):
1. Exposing sins: The sins in our community are exposed on a regular basis from the minbar of the Friday khutbah – how many times has the khateeb said, “We have this issue, and that issue, and other issue in our community, and if we don’t address, we will continue to suffer as an ummah?” There is a difference between ratting yourself out and bragging about your personal flaws vs bringing awareness to an issue so that it can be appropriately addressed.
2. Inappropriate parts: Guys, with all due respect to those who found certain parts of the story inappropriate, you should thank Allah that you’ve not been exposed as much to the seedier parts of society, but the reality is that most of what is portrayed in this story is relatively tame compared to what we’re dealing with today, and by the way, most of what is portrayed here is relatively tame compared to what we read in the seerah and hadeeth literature, of what some Companions faced in their own personal struggles well after Islam was established.
Have we so quickly forgotten the woman who became pregnant from adultery and whom the Prophet (SAW) testified regarding her repentance when others tried to call her down for her behavior? Or have we forgotten about the bravery and courage of the man in the army of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqas who was given to drinking? Or the Companion (I’ve forgotten his name) who drank, and was punished for it, but was loved by the Prophet (SAW)?
This is not to say we just turn a blind eye and overlook the issues, but what I am saying is we need more compassion and less condemnation, more husn ad-dhann and less of its opposite. In 3 months time, the transformative effect of progressing in one’s practice of Islam can be profound, so why assume a negative or static character rather than a positive turn for Dawud?
Again, from my perspective, an excellent story, and a great way to convey the message. Rather than simply speaking about an issue and citing it like a nebulous statistic that dehumanizes the individual, we have humanity brought to the people affected by this, and insha’Allah, by sympathizing and understanding where they’re coming from, we can do a better job in befriending, advising, and helping them out of their situation.
December 31, 2010 at 4:29 AM
By the way…
And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, “Come, you.” He said, “[I seek] the refuge of Allah . Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed.”
And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.
And they both raced to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back, and they found her husband at the door. She said, “What is the recompense of one who intended evil for your wife but that he be imprisoned or a painful punishment?”
[12:23 – 25 Sahih International Translation]
The most handsome man ever, being seduced by a beautiful, rich noblewoman in the privacy of her bedchamber, a woman he would have succumbed to had Allah not guided him (as Allah states this Himself in 12:23), in a situation where she is so enthralled with him she literally rips his clothes off in an attempt to keep him from leaving.
Inappropriate details or not?
December 31, 2010 at 6:21 AM
JazakAllahuKheiran for the feeback and support, as well as constructive criticism. :) And my apologies to the MM Assosciates who may be feel a little deja-vu over this comment.
In terms of this story having no Islamic morals or no spiritual purpose on MM, I guess it’s my fault for being subtle, so here they are:
– Choosing deen (Islam) over Dunya (Shereen)
– Marrying for character/righteousness (Hina) instead of romance
– Repeatedly turning to Allah after sin. Instead of Dawud calling it
quits after he slips up after six months of no-alcohol and being
dumped by the person who brought him to Islam in the first place, he
swears by Allah to never drink again and chooses Islam over the
woman who used to be the center of his life. Compare this to the story of the Sahaba
(whose name I apologise for forgetting) who was imprisoned prior to a battle for
being drunk, but was then released to fight. Then, at the end of the
battle, swore by Allah he would never drink again. And he never did.
– Giving sincere repentance a chance: Imagine if everyone treated
convert Muslims with the same distrust, contempt, and ‘yuk’ factor
that some of the comments have suggested, saying that Dawud’s marriage
to Hina is disturbing because he’s likely an alcoholic with an STD who
will turn back to alcohol at the soonest sign of difficulty. Allah
alone knows the true merits of a person and the sincerity of their
repentance, and judging people from their behavior as Muslims (versus
compared to before they were Muslim) is a far better indicator of who
they are. Imagine, would you want your daughter to marry a man who
used to worship (and then eat) a figure made out of squashed dates,
who had also buried his own daughter alive? A mushrik and a child-
murderer? The Honorable, Ferocious Umar, may Allah be pleased with
him, became the leader of the whole Muslim Ummah, and his past was not
an issue, only his present and his future.
I have immense respect and appreciation for the people who shared
views and feedback, but I have to disagree very strongly with that
type of suspicious and negative stereotyping of converts. A very
sincere and gentle Muslim I once met, who is now is his late forties,
is tattooed from head to foot with his history in prison and the KKK.
If a righteous, niqab-wearing, salah-praying Muslim sister had not
been able to look beyond his past and see his potential as a sincere
Muslim, then he would not be married with three beautiful children or
a happy, normal life that has nothing to do with relapses into
violence, crime, or white supremacy. Converts are not forever tainted
with the sins of their past. Allah blesses them with a clean slate.
And on the flip side, marrying a ‘clean-looking’ born Muslim who seems
to be upright is not indicator of spiritual harmony and righteousness,
as I think MM has seen enough evidence of in the ‘Overcoming Porn
Addiction’ section of MM. It’s full of helpful tips and stories of
struggle and repentance that provide an inspiration for people in the
same battle, and I do not think, at any point, that is glorifies,
endorses, or trivializes the sin of porn. A person seeking to justify
their sin through the sheer number of other Muslims with the same sin
could, potentially, not feel so bad about their own porn addiction
because “Look, thousands of other people are addicted to porn too!”
But if you try hard enough, you can justify anything. That doesn’t
mean that a person should not open up, seeking help for their sin out
of fear that someone with twisted intentions could use it to justify
their own sin. And it doesn’t mean we should hide the existence of
sin in our community, because then we cut off people from the proper
next step: Tauba.
(Compare this to hiding the sin in your own
brother [versus community at large] which is necessary to maintain his
honor and allowing him to repent to Allah without subjecting him to
humiliation which could get in his way of returning to the straight
I recognize that there is a fine line between making
mention of sin and positively endorsing it. It would be delusional,
as well as counter-productive, to pretend like there is no such thing
as sin. Not only does not recognizing sin prevent anyone from taking
the right course of action (repentance) but one needs at least to know
enough of what sin *is* so that you don’t fall into it accidentally.
Imagine if someone picked up a bottle for the first time and it said
‘alcohol’ and they had never heard of it before and had no idea that
they shouldn’t drink it. Ridiculous, no? The Qur’an mentions sin
because Allah is telling us to NOT do it, and to repent of it.
So there are spades. So let’s call a spade a spade without giving
detailed instructions on how to make your own spade, or saying a spade
is a diamond, and without saying that Dawud’s drinking is ok because
he prays and is nice to people. There are lots of ‘Muslim’ narratives
that take apologetic and compromising views on sin, justifying Sin A
because the person does Good Deed B. I believe that I haven’t
endorsed or glossed-over Dawud’s slip-up. He’s sorry, he’s
embarassed, he never, ever wanted to drink as a Muslim and he swears
by Allah that he will never do it again.
What more could the reader have wanted in order to be assured of his
sincerity, since Muslims don’t wear hair-shirts and there’s no established
legal Islamic entity that Dawud could submit himself to for his 100 lashes. I’m asking
seriously, because the best-case scenario when Muslims sin is to
acknowledge the sin, stop, ask Allah’s forgiveness, and intend to
never do it again. Dawud has followed the four steps of Tauba.
My intention was to call a spade a spade, call Brown
Trash what it is, and let a new Muslim fall and then get up again,
stronger and freer of the baggage from his old life as he moves into
his new one. If I have failed to convey that, that’s my fault and
lack of skill as a writer, and I seek refuge in Allah from Shaitaan
and the weakenss of my own nafs. If there is anything good or correct
in the story, it is from Allah. Whatever if bad or misleading is from
myself, and I ask Allah’s forgiveness as well as his assistance in not
making the same mistakes again.
January 5, 2011 at 2:31 PM
What more could the reader have wanted in order to be assured of his sincerity, since Muslims donâ€™t wear hair-shirts and thereâ€™s no established legal Islamic entity that Dawud could submit himself to for his 100 lashes.
One suggestion is that the story itself could have focused on Dawud’s actual Islam instead of his sin. From the beginning of the story to the end, including the title, everything alludes to Dawud’s drinking problem, as the title “Finding Dawud” suggests, as well as the ending where he’s found on a street corner drunk (before going for donuts).
Iâ€™m asking seriously, because the best-case scenario when Muslims sin is to acknowledge the sin, stop, ask Allahâ€™s forgiveness, and intend to never do it again. Dawud has followed the four steps of Tauba.
But this “best case scenario” wasn’t emphasized in the story; it was only hinted at ( in a very subtle manner that could easily be missed). Why couldn’t we get to know Dawud the changed Muslim with only a flashback to his “slip up”?
From a writer’s perspective, the main flaw I see in the story (as it was written superbly maashaaAllaah) is that the point you’re making here should be made by the story itself.
Put another way, if you want readers to look past a character’s sin, then the story itself has to look past the sin. And this story doesn’t do that.
And Allah knows best.
March 2, 2011 at 9:57 AM
MashaAllah i loved reading the article, its very well written.. and these are the things that we are facing in the west today. I am married to a convert.. and I swear i never realised the struggle of a convert before… i have seen a lot of people entering islam but i have seen alott of them leaving islam too, one of the reasons is that the muslim community still does not whole heartedly accept them, especially when it comes to marrying them to their daughters…in the end Allah guides who He wills but we still have to do our part like the ansar did.
Abdul Malik Mujahid
March 6, 2011 at 12:10 PM
This is a powerful writer. She must keep writing. There are a lots of powerful Muslim fiction writers in the languages I know. But not much in English.
Please keep writing.
Abdullahi Asad Mohammed
May 4, 2011 at 9:10 PM
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,
Dear, Sister Abez,
I really liked your article/story. Mashallah, may Allah give you what you deserve. Amiin. And this is a good reminders to people who forgot the faith. And alhamdulillah Dawud engaged to a good person, unlike that hypocrite(Shereen). You are currently powerful writer, Mashallah. Keep up the good work, and may allah help you with your other short stories. Amiin! And thanks for this story, I felt a different person after i finished reading. Thanks for charing! Again! Jazakallahu kairen
Brother Abdullahi M.
July 6, 2011 at 1:54 AM
I never read a short fiction story this good. Everything is perfect! All the characters are so REAL! I can’t believe that Shireen flips out on Dawud for acting like a real Muslim. I mean what was that girl thinking? I love how he puts it about her losing lol. And to all the people who considered it to “descriptive”…I’m sorry but you do need a reality check. I mean you do live in this world right where you see lots of things you don’t want so see..I’m just saying. I mean I’m sure the description of Shireen wasn’t so descriptive..she wore tight jeans..how many girls in this world do you see wear tight jeans and worse..let me stop before I get to descriptive LOL…
Anways awesome story!!!! I beg you to right more this stuff is good………:D
July 7, 2011 at 7:23 PM
really really loved this story. i hope u write more.