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A Muslim’s Guide to Rejecting Prom Dates

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Dr. O blogs at Muslim Medicine, a site that strives to serve only the freshest grade-A certified abiah ḥalāl comedy. Contact your local ḥalāl butcher for more details.

Ahhh, Public High School. Despite graduating from there a little more than 5 years ago, I still remember my senior year like it was just yesterday. Probably because that was one of the most embarrassingly awkward years of my life due to my fobby mustache growing out of control. Back then, it was all about following ridiculous but popular trends, trading Pokemon cards (because no one ever really knew how to play with them), spending weekends studying for the SATs and the ACTs, Greg’s pants falling down in the middle of the hallway, David getting dumped by Candice in the middle of the cafeteria, and of course, who could forget Katherine getting OWNED by a bumpy bus ride:

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LOL!! HAHAHA!! I mean, astaghfirullah. I should be lowering my gaze.

Ahhhhhhh… …good times, good times.

But amongst all of the wonderful things that most High School Seniors look forward to, there’s one event that every faithful Muslim brother and sister utterly dreads. Yes, my friends. I’m talking about the annual demonic festival of hormonally-repressed acne-faced youth who nefariously gather to revel in a night of fiendish debauchery in order to expend their youthful vigor in a druidic cabal of self-aggrandizement that irreversibly corrupts the faith of our community and decays the very moral fiber of our society.

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I’m talking about PROM NIGHT.

Hold on, I know what you’re thinking- based upon the sheer number of pretentious SAT words in that previous paragraph, you probably think that I was a huge nerd back in high school and that I’m only hating on Prom out of angry bitterness over never being asked out to it. You’re right about the nerd part- but surprisingly, I actually was asked out to Prom by a girl in my AP Biology class, and boy oh boy was it an AWKWARD pretense for starting a da’wah conversation.

But anyways, my awkwardness aside, why is prom bad, you ask? Well, I hope you haven’t been to one to know first-hand why it’s not exactly an ideal spot for a very young and highly impressionable Muslim boy or girl, but just trust me when I say that for all of the temptations and nonsense that you have to resist in those High School hallways every day, Prom Night pretty much cranks the haram-o-meter up to level 10, and the after-prom parties crank up the haraminess rating to obscenely fitna-tastic levels. It ‘aint a pretty sight my friends, and for some of the girls it doesn’t get much prettier the morning after, so its best to avoid that cesspool of hormones altogether and do something more spiritually productive with your fellow Muslim friends like growing beard hairs (not recommended for girls) or putting cute henna designs on your hands (not recommended for guys).

This is what your nafs looks like on prom night…

…but this is what your īmān looks like

As this fiesta of foulness rapidly approaches at this time of the year and looms eerily over the susceptible heads of our young Muslim high school seniors, it’s best to equip yourself with the very best of da’wah-proven techniques and certified abiah ḥalāl abilities to ward off the temptations of Prom, and to come up with the perfect escape responses to safely dodge Prom questions and reject prom advances. Fortunately for you, I have just the guide to save your Senior year from ending in a blaze of regret!

PROM DATE REJECTION GUIDE FOR BROTHERS

Yeah, I know that awkward feeling, brothers. Every other guy in the school is hooking up with girls for the Prom and you’re the sole dude in the class who isn’t part of the search team nor even remotely interested in anything going on. Been there, done that. But sooner or later they’re going to notice, and then it’ll be your moment of truth- will you stand your ground and do your part for da’wah and defend your chastity and honor as a Muslim man? Or will you try to sneakily find ways of coming up with compelling excuses and dodging their judgmental eyes with well-timed defense mechanisms?

If the da’wah method doesn’t work, then don’t worry- I have a solution for you guys. Take it from someone who actually got asked out to the Prom in his senior year- I’ve got a whole swath of sure-fire techniques for you to dodge Prom, and reject date proposals from girls like a professional!

1 STOP GROOMING YOUR FACIAL HAIR

The epic sunnah-style beard is a universal symbol of masculinity and manhood- and to an unsuspecting girl, a nicely styled and combed beard with well-trimmed edges that behaves due to its mesmerizing bounce and volume as a result of your fancy L’Oreal shampoo and conditioner is a shining beacon of attractiveness that will no doubt entice her to ask you out to Prom. She probably wants to show off your beard to all her friends at Prom Night to make them feel jealous of your epic facial hair. But here’s how to protect your beard from unwanted advances- just stop grooming it. Don’t cut it, shape it, wash it, or even touch it for 3 months, and watch as your face becomes a powerful Prom repellent!

Nope. There isn’t a single girl out there who would even think twice about asking YOU out to the prom once you look like that! Unless she’s just as hairy as you are, in which case that hairy face will probably attract her even more.

2 STOP WEARING DEODORANT

This is by far the most effective technique of warding off girls from asking you out to the prom, so take special note of this highly-refined and deeply-complex technique, passed down from master and pupil for centuries. The technique requires a level of intense focus and preparation to perform, but I know that if you pull this off, you’ll make your great escape from awkward Prom date requests. Take your deodorant sprays and/or bars, and carefully toss them in the trash. Then, every day before school starts, go jogging for about an hour around the neighborhood, and work up a good sweat. Then head straight to school without changing clothes or showering.

Trust us on this, NO ONE in that entire school will bother you about Prom again for weeks. Your body odor will kick like Bruce Lee, and your stench will be more offensive than a Danish Cartoon. Problem solved!

3 WEAR A FAKE WEDDING RING AND PRETEND TO BE MARRIED

This is without a doubt every single teenage brother’s fantasy come true- finally, a chance to have a legitimate reason to wear a fake wedding ring and pretend to be married in public! YESSS!!! We know you’ve always wanted to do this ever since you were 13, so we’re giving you an actual appropriate means of pretending to be married! Is it sad and pathetic? Sure. But does anyone else know that? Nope! And that’s the beauty of this anti-Prom date technique.

Girls will instantly be repelled by your fake married-status, and if they’re actually brave enough to ask you who you’re married to, just tell them she’s much prettier than they are, and they’ll get offended and walk off (when guys ask you the same question, tell them that she’s prettier than they are, too). Your fake imaginary wife will be so flattered you said that about her!

WARNING: depending on how well you convince others (and yourself) of your own marital status, this technique may very well stop you from actually getting married to a real sister later on in life. If this happens to you, I hope you’ve got a great imagination, because you’ll probably stay married in your own mind for a long, long time.

PROM DATE REJECTION GUIDE FOR SISTERS

Yeah, I know that awkward feeling, sisters. Okay well to be honest… I don’t, since I’m a guy and all, but I’ll just assume I know what it’s like for you. All the girls around you chattering incessantly about who they’ve got crushes on, and who they want to ask out to prom, and of course the hilarious stories of how the popular girls offer crushing rejections to the geeks over at the Chess and Math Olympics clubs. LOL, those poor geeks.

It’s great to laugh at, sure- but when the girls start figuring out you’re not going to Prom, and you’re not expressing any interest in prom dates or prom dresses, you’re gonna start to feel the pressure when they begin to cast their judgmental and condescending glares at you. That’s when it’s time to slam your foot down, straighten your ḥijāb, and tell them like it is!

…and if that doesn’t work out, don’t worry-I understand that High School is a much tougher place for sisters than it is for guys, and Prom time makes things even tougher. So here are 3 sure-fire techniques to repel guys from asking you out to Prom and to keep the other girls from harassing you!

1 WEAR A CONVINCING FAKE BEARD

Hahaha! Okay, I’m totally kidding with this first one. Well, I’m kidding with all of these absurd suggestions, but this one’s pretty funny. Can you imagine how ridiculous you’d look wearing a ḥijāb and having a huge tuft of hair covering your lower face like a hairy niqāb? That’s hilarious (and nasty)- but honestly, this would probably be the most POWERFUL guy-repellent in the history of mankind.

Maybe a sister who actually has one of these would be a suitable match for the Wolfman-brother shown above…

2 PUT ON A SCARY NIQAB

Wearing niqāb already makes sisters look like awesome shuriken-wielding ninjas- but putting on the right niqāb style can transform even the most shy and tame ḥijābi sister into a scary horror-movie slasher that no high school guy in his right mind would have the courage to ask out to the Prom. How exactly is this done, you ask? Its simple. Just take a look below:

See? 1,2,3 and presto! You’ve got yourself a sister protected from all sorts of temptations! And that costume makes for great da’wah conversation starters, too. Just don’t head to any airports wearing that…

3 BRING YOUR DAD TO SCHOOL

There’s only one thing that strikes more pure terror in the hearts of men than seeing a sister dressed up as a costumed horror-movie slasher- dealing with her angry dad. Want high school guys to leave you alone, or better yet, ANY guy to leave you alone? Bring your dad to school with you before Prom and watch in giddy glee as he scowls furiously with utter disgust and disdain at all of the poor, unsuspecting guys in your high school.

There isn’t a single guy alive who would have the guts to even approach you within a 5 mile radius when you’ve got an angry dad standing behind you, lest they risk the paternal punishment of getting pulverized by a mountain of over-protective might. Angry-looking dads are one of the most effective anti-fitna tools that sisters have at their disposal to ward off unwanted advances.

WARNING: Do not allow an angry dad to come into contact with a sweet-talking pre-med Muslim student from a great family aspiring to be a doctor, who also happens to have all the same interests as your dad. The angry dad technique may completely backfire, and you might end up having an even more nerve-wracking situation to deal with than Prom itself.

—–

All in all, whether its a High School Prom, a Friday-night college party, or Happy Hour at your office, as respectable Muslim men and women, you need to avoid events and parties that you know for sure are going to be questionable environments that will tempt you towards that which is contrary to your faith and character. As the Holy Qur’an so beautifully puts it:

The one who does a bad deed shall be recompensed to the extent of the bad deed done; and the one who is a believer and does good deeds, whether man or woman, shall enter Paradise and therein receive sustenance without measure. [Surah Al-Mu’min, Verse 40]

There’s a wondrous party filled with boundless things beyond your wildest imagination waiting up above in His Eternal Gardens. So if you had to choose between a single-night party at your local high school and a never-ending party in Jannah– which would you prefer to go to?

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Hailing from New York, Dr. O is a current medical student who blatantly misappropriates his study time by posting absurd articles lampooning the weird things he often notices within the Muslim community. His articles often contain unhealthy doses of odd wit and humor, sprinkled with overly-pretentious medical-jargon, but covered in a sweet milk-chocolate coating of small sincere life lessons. Despite not actually having a medical license and pretending to impersonate an actual physician online, Dr. O aims to heal patients with just a tiny bit of bitter advice contained within a sugary pill of light-hearted laughter. He hosts his own blog, Muslim Medicine, at http://www.muslimmedicine.net.

63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Cartoon Muslim

    April 4, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    I love the warning for bringing angry dad to school. Genius!

  2. Avatar

    Handimandi

    April 4, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    so would yo recommend not going to prom at all or just not going with a date?

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 4, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      If you’re in the US, I probably wouldn’t recommend you going- and the idea of grabbing a date is just a whole other can of worms.

  3. Avatar

    siraaj

    April 4, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Oh man, my blogger-sense is tingling, methinks you’re in for thrashing.  And I haven’t seen so many center-justified animated gifs on a webpage since the mid-90s.

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 4, 2012 at 6:11 PM

       Haha! I guess it’s just my nostalgic way of writing old-school style articles. I still remember more a decade ago when everyone was jumping onto Yahoo Geocities and making their own basic-template sites with center-justified text and HTML coded imaging.

  4. Avatar

    Shafi

    April 4, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    You were trading Pokemon cards 5 years ago???

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I remember those cards were starting to phase out back then, and when Pokemon started to decline, that’s when trading Yu-Gi-Oh cards became the next big trend.

      • Avatar

        Shafi

        April 5, 2012 at 8:30 AM

        Interesting. Pokemon faded out here in the midwest around 2002 (ten years ago) when Yu-Gi-Oh became big

        • Avatar

          Sabdelha41

          April 11, 2012 at 2:26 AM

          LOL busted!

  5. Avatar

    Abu Yusuf

    April 4, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Salaam Alaykum, I went to prom. It wasn’t too bad. It was mostly male and there was nice lasagna and some other delicious victuals and viands. The wildest thing that happened was the sikh dude in our school who always kept his hair hidden in his turban took his turban off and head banged his 4 feet long hair to music. But this was in the middle east and my understanding of what prom meant was that it was a get-together at the end of the school year without concomitant lasciviousness that prom in America means. Regarding the suggestions of “Dr” O. to not wear deodrant and to wear a wedding ring to fend off the opposite gender – I’ve tried both and it seems to have the opposite effect. Apparently sweat contains pheromones and wedding rings signify purchasing power, both of which are evolutionary markers for a man’s fitness as a mate. Sorry “Dr” O, time to go back to the books.

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 4, 2012 at 6:37 PM

       Wa alaikum salaam!

      Wow Abu Yusuf, it sounds like you had a pretty awesome time, though by the sound of it, that Sikh guy probably had an unforgettable blast. I guess the culture of prom night really does translate differently in other countries, so it’s fascinating to hear how other cultures manifest it. I’m glad you had a good time!

      And as for my techniques, if those don’t work and you’re still viewed as an evolutionary personage of male fitness, you can always employ stronger anti-fitna techniques such as eating garlic knots every morning and not brushing your teeth. That way every salaam that you give also serves as a potent anesthetic.

  6. Avatar

    Faith

    April 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    I went to prom and nothing haram happened. I went to an all-girls school so maybe that helped. Still, it was mostly girls and some dates hanging out in a ballroom in a hotel in downtown Philly just having fun. I didn’t bring a date and neither did two of my friends (a third one did-no she isn’t Muslim). We just took pictures, talked to other girls, ate rather good food and then went home when my mom picked us up. No crazy after prom party, no drinking, no dubious actions with the opposite sex.

    I suppose if you go to prom with the intention of doing those things, then it’ll probably happen. But if you don’t have the intention of doing those things, why would they happen?

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 4, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      Masha’Allah, you’re fortunate to have gone to an all-girls school, and I’m glad to hear that you had a great (and safe) time!

      It’s quite a different story at most public schools, however. The only true gender segregation you’d ever experience in a public school would be in the locker rooms- so most of my school experience was seeing the whole dating/hooking up/breaking up scene nearly all the time, and prom time amplified that tremendously.

      To be honest, for most Muslim girls and guys at that young age, being surrounded by a torrent of this culture pushing that sort of “acceptance through joining in” really does hit hard for struggling 16/17 year-olds who certainly aren’t strong enough in their self-confidence to say, “I can’t be a part of that, I’m Muslim.” It takes a great deal of courage to say that, and even with the best of intentions, simply trying to convince yourself that you’ll be a stoic, moral pillar of faith and chastity while standing near a dance floor bumping Nicki Minaj songs with everyone beckoning you to join in doesn’t seem like something I’d expect a typical struggling Muslim high schooler to have the inner fortitude to walk away from.

  7. Avatar

    Reem

    April 4, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Hilarious!! =D
    The taking-your-dad one is so true..

  8. Avatar

    Nihalk1

    April 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    What if I bring my mom?  LOL

  9. Avatar

    Hanna

    April 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    My fav line ever… im so stealing this…. fitna-tastic “Prom Night pretty much cranks the haram-o-meter up to level 10, and the after-prom parties crank up the haraminess rating to obscenely fitna-tastic levels.”

  10. Avatar

    KhanBaba

    April 5, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Uh, I think there are better ways for avoiding prom kaiser

  11. Avatar

    amatullah

    April 5, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

    That was great!

    I have to disagree about the hygiene part though. Smelling nice (or atleast smelling neutral) is part of deen. Imagine the 5 times you have to stand before AllahSWT in prayers, a person will stink so badly if one wont take care of himself or herself.
    Since cleanliness is half of faith I really dont think this is a nice idea (i.e., stinking)

    Duaaas!  What other weapon can be better than dua?! so brothers and sisters, raise your hands, let your hearts pump with sincere duas seeking protection and help from all these fitnahs. Remember Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) ?

    Beards may or may not be attractive. But I can say thick mustaches are great turn offs!!!  so maybe brothers you might want to consider growing mustache 2 weeks prior to prom.

  12. Avatar

    Foodfoodgirl

    April 5, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    Salams,

    I went to Prom in 2001, as a nonMuslim (I’m a convert). I did however happen to be a very practicing Christian at the time so many of the same rules applied to me as would to a Muslim teenager. Prom was very innocent! A lot of Muslims get their impression of what Prom is from the movies but it’s really not that bad.

    I had a date but he was no less of an accessory than my jewellery or handbag. There was zero inappropriate behavior. We dressed up, went for dinner with a big group of friends, arrived at the school (where Prom was held) and then posed for pics with family and friends. Some ppl danced but most just chatted with each other. The girls all wore pretty, ballgown type dresses, nobody was trying to look sexy.

    There were 2 after-prom parties at my school. One for the “bad” kids (drinking etc) and one for the “good” religious kids. I went to the “good” kids party. We all went to a friend’s cottage. Guys slept in guy tents and girls slept in girls tents. There was no alcohol, just yummy food. There were no parental chaperones but our parents knew where we were and that all the kids present were good kids so we were all fine.

    I had a wonderful time and still look back fondly on the event 11 years later.

    Prom is what you make it. Of course there will be kids veering in to what is haram for Muslims but as with all things in life, you need to decide for yourself to avoid these things. I had strong enough personal convictions, without my parents imposing strict rules on me that I was able to go to Prom, enjoy myself and have nothing to be ashamed of afterwards. There were a ton of kids in my position as well.

    First generation immigrant parents need to be open to considering allowing their children attend Prom if their kids want to. It is a cultural rite of passage in North America.

    • Avatar

      amatullah

      April 6, 2012 at 12:10 AM

      Walaikumasalam warahmatullahi wabrakatuh dear Foodfoodgirl :)

      MashaAllaah! Alhamdulillah that Allah Swt has guided you to Islaam :)

      11 years. I should say things have changed so much now. So I dont think we can really make much comparison. Plus there are exceptions. And I would consider your case an exception.
      Since prevention is better than cure, it’s better not to go to prom AT ALL. And AllahSwt out of His infinite Wisdom warned us NOT TO GO NEAR zina (fornication/adultery). Every destruction begins with a single step.

       And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fahishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allah forgives him). 17:32

      And there’s nothing wrong about following any culture. But when there’s a clash between culture and what Islaam has to say about a particular issue or for that matter if there’s a clash between our desires/intellect and Islaam, we have to burry everything else and submit to the The Most High.
      And Allah Knows Best

      May Allah, All Wise guide us in all matters and grant us all Jannatul Firdous. And you may indulge in any food dear Foodfoodgirl :)

      • Avatar

        Kelly Kafir

        April 25, 2012 at 5:22 AM

         that’s right because everyone knows (from watching Jersey Shore and other trashy American shows) that ALL Americans do is drink, take drugs and F*CK each other ALL DAY LONG…  Sheesh – you people are just as “racist” as I know you are going to accuse me of being!

    • Avatar

      Najmk

      May 8, 2012 at 12:52 AM

      I completely agree with you.  My parents let me goto the prom – as they realised its part of the North American culture.  I didnt ask any girl out – I just went by myself and enjoyed with my group of friends – it was so much better that way.

      My parents and I had (and still have) a very open communication going – so we trusted and understood each other.  So they allowed me to goto prom night as long as I didnt go to the after party and came back home by midnight – which I thought was a good compromise.

      I think going to the prom should be something you need to experience.  You learn a lot about yourself then.

  13. Avatar

    max

    April 9, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    this is Awesome ! A great way to humorously give a message on how to keep your deen together and how to stand up as a muslim ! shukran Thanks alot it gave me a great start as to how to deal with situations like this and i love the mini pictures and scenes they were funny =D

  14. Avatar

    Meena Malik

    April 11, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    mA Dr. O, you may have just owned
    my Prom article from last year
    http://muslimmatters.org/2011/05/24/the-prom-problem/ :) good job!

    but my play is coming out, too, and that’s all about Prom…let the show-down
    begin.

    http://muslimmatters.org/2012/04/11/crowned-a-play-by-meena-malik-part-1/

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

       Just finished reading your first part- it’s fantastic, masha’Allah! I do have to concede, my article doesn’t feature any Swordfish or booger attacks, so you have have quite the leg up on me.

      Looking forward to reading the rest of it!

  15. Avatar

    DesiParentVictim

    April 11, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    I love this. Especially since prom’s been going around and everyone’s being asked, it feels good to share the moment with a Muslim group rather than parents who, if you try to talk to them about it, get a wee bit suspicious and being to watch your every move. O.O

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      April 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      I hope you are patient with them. Many parents who haven’t attended high school in the US do not know the hype that comes with prom. Many, many Muslim youth go through exactly what you are going thru, keep that in mind and plan on hosting some other activity at your house around the same time so you can have some halal fun :)

  16. Avatar

    Saarah

    April 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Hahaha love it, but I gotta say a little intense. My solution for Prom was not as extreme and worked for me, but is mainly a girls solution. So basically I didn’t wanna get left out with all the dress and hair talk, and so to still be involved but not participate I planned a…Before-Prom party! (a twist of an after prom party).I invited all my friends over who were going to the prom. We did each others hair and make up, and all that girlie stuff and they got into their dresses.Yeah it was kinda hectic but really fun. And then my ah-mazing parents dropped them of to the prom site, in my surprise decorated car, needless to say they didn’t go with dates, and we had a fun in the car( I remember putting nail polish on Alice’s toe nails while racing of in the car). And so we got there and I got to take pictures with them and see other peoples dresses and all. So I still got my Halal prom experience, and it was a good one too :) One of my better ideas I have to say

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 12, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      I gotta hand it to you, Sr. Saarah, that’s actually pretty clever, masha’Allah!

  17. Avatar

    Saarah

    April 12, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    whoops posted again

  18. Avatar

    Whatever

    April 12, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Wtf? How the fuck is prom evil and demon and all that? That’s retarded. You can go on a date or to a dance and not have sex or booze or whatever else. Don’t be so assbackwards. This has got to be the least helpful article on here.

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 12, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      Whoa whoa, easy on the language there, Whatever. I know that you’re perfectly capable of expressing your discontent civilly without using expletives, so there’s no need to channel your opinion in such a crass manner. I get the gist of what you’re saying- if you get a chance, please edit your comment here so it’s easier for others to read without getting fired up or angry at how you’re expressing yourself. I’d appreciate it, thanks!

      I’m sure you can tell from the way the article is written, and from it being classed as a humor piece that this is satire- while the helpful message itself is very brief and rather simplistic, majority of the article is a comical exaggeration filled with obviously ludicrous suggestions not meant to be taken seriously. Same goes for the description of prom itself- I described it in such a ridiculously hyperbolic manner that it almost becomes a parody of itself. Surely you nor I actually believe that Prom is full of “hormonally-repressed acne-faced youth.”

      If you really believe that kids at that age are able to control themselves in that kind of environment and not do things that they’ll regret the day after, then that’s great- more power to you. But for the more religious-leaning high schoolers, I don’t think it’s as simple as just “not having sex or booze or whatever else.” Temptations are overwhelmingly strong, and I personally believe its more backwards to give in to these boorish base desires and instincts than to rise above it and profess emotional control and balanced judgment in youth.

      You’re free to express your discontent with my article- that’s fine, I don’t mind. Even if you’re right and it doesn’t help anyone at all, as long as it puts a smile on someone’s face while they read it, or if by some chance I even manage a chuckle out of them, then I’m personally satisfied.

      Thank you for taking time to read it, though- I appreciate it!

  19. Avatar

    lovebarun

    April 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Loved the article!! But I have a question say you live in the UK and you know for a fact that nothing ‘bad’ is gonna happen and if your not going with a date then is it still okay to attend prom with your friends just for fun and to celebrate the last day of secondary school

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 20, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      I really don’t know how prom is like in the UK- I’m guessing it’s similar to how American public schools host it? If it is, then I’d probably still avoid it- I went to a friend’s birthday party once, figuring its just a b-day party, nothing bad happens here and I’m with my friends and its all fun. Turns out he turned his living room into a dance floor and it was a good ‘ol dance party with girls and guys from our grade bumping and grinding till the cows came home.

      I guess the point is that even when you assure yourself that it’s innocuous, you may very find yourself in an environment you didn’t expect, and prom pretty much fits that bill. If it’s an all-girls or all-boys specialized school, then hey- go for it, have a blast. Otherwise, I really don’t feel that it’s conducive putting yourself in that kind of scenario. wAllahu’alam.

  20. Avatar

    Thoushid

    April 18, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    Masha allah.. very interesting Article. jazakallah Bro..

  21. Avatar

    Ahmed Arshad

    April 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Fear Allah Dr. O

    Niqab are one of the symbols of Allah and clearly reference it in a mocking way.

    Remember what Allah said to those who mock the symbols of Islam.  Remember, this ayath were sent down for Muslims, not non-Muslims.

    The Qur’aan is the word of Allaah and is one of His attributes. Allaah still speaks whenever He wills. This is what is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and this was the view of the imaams of Islam. Mocking the words and Book of Allaah, or trying to undermine their sanctity and respect, is blatant kufr – no one would dispute that. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “If you ask them (about this), they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allaah, and His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking?’Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed…”[al-Tawbah 9:65-66]

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 20, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      JazakAllahu khair for the chilling reminder, Ahmed- and for taking the time to bring it to my attention and offer me your naseeha. I’m grateful for your remembrance, alhamdulillah.

      I can assure you that while I don’t consider myself a model Muslim by any stretch of the imagination, I do my best to hold the utmost respect and reverence for the deen that I claim as my own, the Lord whose name I prostrate on the ground for, and the Prophet (saws) whose life I attempt to emulate.

      One of the teachings of the Rasul (saws) is mercy, compassion, and soft-heartedness towards his fellow brothers and sisters, and I try my best to show that softness and easy-going approach to others. Naseeha is meant to be given sweetly and serenely, not harshly and coldly. I do appreciate the reminder, truly I do, but to stab at me so deeply with a grievous claim of kufr, no less, I personally find very harsh and the severity and gravity of such a claim should not be taken lightly. I seek refuge in Allah (swt) from such acts, and I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except He, and that Prophet Muhammad (saws) is his final messenger.

      If you read what I wrote carefully, I made a playful analogy of niqaab to the coverings that ninjas wear, and I have nothing but sincere respect for niqaab and the sisters who summon the strength and spiritual resolve to wear it proudly, hence why I explicitly referred to it as ‘awesome’. As for the costume effect- the intention behind it is a playfully creative (albeit incredibly ridiculous) way to help sisters avoid fitna and resist temptations. If that was somehow misconstrued as an assault on niqaab or Allah-forbid a mockery of that level of haya’, then I give you my word that it was not my intention, and I apologize if the real message of that particular line was lost in translation.

      JazakAllahu khair again for the naseeha Ahmed- again I would strongly caution you to be extremely careful with the use of “kufr” when addressing your brothers and sisters. It’s a grievous accusation, and its sharp, stinging usage against fellow Muslims striving on the same straight path you are is something Allah (swt) warned us not to do when giving naseeha to others. Remember His message to the Rasul (saws): “Had you been stern and hard-hearted, they would have surely dispersed from round about you.” [3:159]

      Be soft and easy going on the internet towards your brothers and sisters, Ahmed. Your naseeha is sweet, it doesn’t need to be given so harshly for us to accept it. If I have offended or upset you with anything I have written, then I apologize and ask for your forgiveness and for Allah (swt)’s as well.

      May Allah (swt) forgive us for our shortcomings and weaknesses, and guide us both towards that which is best for us in this dunyah and in the akhirah.

      (Sorry for the huge novel- if you’ve read this far, I thank you sincerely for your patience and understanding).

    • Avatar

      Berserk Hijabi

      August 23, 2013 at 2:54 AM

      It’s interesting how I actually had the opposite reaction to Dr. O’s including that section in his article.To me it shows that he’s not one of the “niqab haters” that are actually somewhat common in our Umma. I have researched the issue of niqab pretty thoroughly,my best friend is a Niqabi(and a fan of Dr. O as well) and Im considering wearing it myself. I have nothing but respect and love for this Sunna and actually appreciate this particular section of the article very much.
      Jazakallah khair for your advice, I wish more people were willing to give advice and back it up with proofs like you did. May Allah accept our efforts,Ameen.

  22. Avatar

    Ibn Percy

    April 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Dr. Oz, what about brom?

  23. Avatar

    Kelly Kafir

    April 25, 2012 at 5:18 AM

    Why not just tell the girl about Sura 4:34 and how you will hijab her ass… then you can let her know that once you are in your force marriage, you will kill her if she brings dishonor on you?  And if that doesn’t work – tell her you will subject her to a good old female circumcision as required in the Hadith!  Don’t forget letting her know that she cannot talk to other men or that if you take her to an Islamic country that YOU will get full custody of the kids while she will not be allowed out of the house without a male family member accompanying her (oh, for her protection….)

  24. Avatar

    Sam G Jr

    April 25, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    More evidence of how muslims do not wish to integrate into western society and values. If you do not like us and we are so “haram” and “kuffar”, get back to those real islamic countries you came from or want to be like.  Real nice places to live I see….

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 25, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      Thanks for the reply, Sam G Jr! It’s always a pleasure to have different perspectives to add to the flavor of the discussion- I appreciate it!

      While I do think that integration in it of itself is deserving of a whole different discussion, for this particular article about prom, I don’t particularly believe this serves as much evidence about the overlying assumption of limiting Muslim integration into Western society at all, unless your idea of the pinnacle of Western society’s achievements and values are somehow exemplified in a party for high school kids.

      I also didn’t declare anyone to be “kuffar,” nor did I say anywhere that I’m dividing the entire population of high schools into an “us” vs. “them” mentality, and the way I alluded to prom in such a hyperbolic manner is meant to be a satirical parody of how ultra-religious conservatives (not just Muslims) tend to paint it. Clearly, if you read some of the other comments here, the proms that are held at all-girl private schools and even the proms held in the Middle Eastern countries have given Muslims plenty of wonderful experiences without compromising their dignity nor their values.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  25. Avatar

    Kelly Kafir

    April 25, 2012 at 5:30 AM

    I know – tell the offending infidel that you are preparing to become shahid and you are mixing your explosives that night… but she can come with you cause it will be a BLAST!!

  26. Avatar

    Achmed

    April 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    But I wanted to got to mine, my Imam says it’s good to be part of American life and customs, but you say I can’t?

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM

       Haha, thanks for the reply, Achmed!

      I’m not saying you can’t at all- you certainly CAN go if you really want to, I’m just pointing out in this article that Muslim kids often are very conflicted and have a great deal of difficulty dealing with Prom because of being tugged in opposite directions between their friends at school and their religious leanings. My solution is to not give in to peer pressure but to rise above it and try to give yourself better alternatives.

      American life and customs certainly do have quite a lot of positives (and some notable negatives, too), and as Muslims there’s lessons that we can take from it, and a lot that we can contribute to it as well. Prom doesn’t serve as the focal point of where Muslims suddenly find themselves clashing with American customs- it just serves as one of the first forays that really young Muslims have when asking themselves these sorts of difficult questions about “fitting in” and whether or not to compromise who they are or what faith they have in order to fit in. It’s certainly very difficult at that age.

      Thanks again for taking time to read and respond!

  27. Avatar

    Sister

    April 26, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    “That’s when it’s time to slam your foot down, straighten your ḥijāb, and tell them like it is!” looool.. there also tons of alternatives for sisters, most Masjid youth groups host “sisters” prom night. You get glammed up, drink punch, and get dropped of in a mini van..heck your mum might even join you :)

  28. Avatar

    Abu Hamzah

    April 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    This article shows lack of maturity. Also, I find it disgusting that any Muslim can openly mock the religion of Allah. How can you mock the niqab when that is clearly obligatory for the Muslim women to wear.

    • Avatar

      Dr. O

      April 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM

      JazakAllahu khair for taking time to share your honest thoughts and express your discontent, Abu Hamzah. You’re the second commenter to focus on the niqab humor, and I appreciate your staunch defense of the honor and dignity of our sisters’ haya.

      I do want to offer just a light rebuttal and assure you that the conclusion you drew from that particular part of the article was not at all intended. If you read what I wrote carefully, I made a playful analogy of niqaab to the coverings that ninjas wear, and I have nothing but sincere respect for niqab and the sisters who summon the strength and spiritual resolve to wear it proudly, hence why I explicitly referred to it as ‘awesome’. For a sister to don a niqab at that young an age in an American high school takes unbelievable courage- and alhamdulillah, I’m proud to have met a few sisters who carry that honor, masha’Allah.

      As for the costume effect- the intention behind it is a playfully creative (albeit incredibly ridiculous) way to help sisters avoid fitna, resist temptations, and protect themselves from unwarranted approaches. If that was somehow misconstrued as an assault on niqaab or Allah-forbid a mockery of that level of haya’, then I give you my word that it was not my intention whatsoever, and I apologize if the real message of that particular line was lost in translation.

  29. Avatar

    Petitpoisson95

    April 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    So when I read this, I thought it would be helpful. I understand that you are doing this to be funny, and I hope nobody follows the no deodrant thing, because being clean is part of Eman. :)

  30. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    May 20, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    MashAllah, a great and hilarious read. Loved it! You clearly have a talent for humorous writing, mA!

  31. Avatar

    Abubakar

    September 27, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    No wonder you muslims are so backward and lag behind in every field of life… Prom is the best thing that can happen to a high school student, how can you just pretend that humans dont have sexual organs, every human wants to be wanted , wants to have a good social life, Needs to date etc unless he/she is primative thing like you muslims

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      September 28, 2012 at 1:11 AM

      Dear Abubakar
      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this article.
      The life of a Muslim is based on his/her belief in the statement “La Ilaha Illa Allah Muhammad Ar-Rasoolullah” (There is no object of worship except Allah and Muhammad (SAW) is His (final) Messenger). Thus, for a Muslim it is not our desires that we hold supreme but the worship and obedience of Allah as our Creator and Sustainer. We are fully aware of the sexual nature and feelings of humans and that is why we know going to the prom and being tempted by our desires is a likely occurrence given the environment that is generally found at Proms.
      With regards to lagging in fields of life, I would ask you to research history and read on the lives of the numerous Muslim leaders (beginning with The Prophet (SAW)), scientists, mathematicians, and inventors that have existed in the past. The reasons for lagging behind today is the subject of several articles some of which you will find on this very website.

      • Avatar

        Abubakar

        September 30, 2012 at 7:59 AM

        Disco maulvi i am talking about the current state of muslims, why do you keep living in the past i think that is the biggest problem,ANSWER THIS if you people dont want to integrate in west then why dont you go back to your impoverished muslim countries, you people hate us kuffar but if it wasnot for us you muslims would still be living in caves with no gas and electricity, WHAT have you contributed to the modern world other than bloodshed and violence, i dont understand why dating and woman’s virginity is such a big issue to you people even in 21st century .why are you obsessed with ignoring sexuality and subjugating women, i have lived for many years in a muslim country and males here are absolute perverts , thats just because islam totally segregates men & women and pretend that sexual organs dont exist

        • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          October 1, 2012 at 1:20 AM

          With regards to your proposal of “us people” moving to “our” improverished muslim countries, let me break your misconception: I do not live in a muslim-majority country.
          As for hating “you kuffar”, we don’t hate you; we hate your disbelief. We have nothing against any person.
          WIth regards to living in caves without gas and electricity can you provide proof that “you” were the reason all these things exist?

          And to bring you back to the topic on hand, as I said we do things based out of our worship of Allah. Our values stem from His prescribed way of life and we consider those unchanging whether we were living in caves, sailing on the seas or living in high rise buildings.

  32. Avatar

    Abu Maryam

    September 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Although I was not one of the loner kids in highschool, I wasnt exactly amongst the popular kids either as I mostly liked to keep to myself and read books (u could say i was a nerd), and only became more social in grade 12. Didnt go to any school dances or parties, so perhaps thats why I didnt even get asked to prom, lol, but soon got over “feeling”. Alhamdullillah, it was in highschool though that I learnt and got close to the Deen and learnt Islam, mostly through the net (kalamullah.com all the way!) so it was time well spent and worth it.

  33. Avatar

    Abubakar

    October 8, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    Disco maulvi : ofcourse all this electricity gas stuff is because of us unbelievers because you muslims have contributed nothing to the modern world not even a pamper ,now dont brag about the past that muslim scientists etc made a lots of contribution! I am talking about this modern world and one simple question i asked that you did not grasp that if you hate our beliefs and dont want to integrate in our societies THEN WHY? WHY DONT YOU GO BAck TO YOUR MUSLIM COUNTRIES? And one more question that WHY ISLAM does not let sexuality develop in a normal way? Why you people repress sexuality? I know you dont have a logical answer

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      October 10, 2012 at 6:22 AM

      Abubakar

      As I mentioned I do not need to go back to a Muslim country as I am already in one. In addition, there are plenty of Muslims in the west who were born non-muslim and chose to become muslim. So the country they are in IS THEIR COUNTRY.

      With regards to sexuality, as I stated before, Islam is a code of life that is based on the belief that Allah is the only diety and He created man. Thus, He has outlined what is best for man in His revelation. Our affirmation to Allah as our Creator and Sustainer is to follow His directions.

      -Aly

  34. Avatar

    Abubakar

    October 30, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Discomaulvi you are a typical muslim you lie a lot because in your last comment you said you dont live in a muslim majority country and now you say you are in a muslim country. Besides i dont wanna debate with you now cuz i cant debate with an irrational person whose only answer to questions is just because allah has outlined bla bla etc

  35. Avatar

    AliBaba

    May 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    The origial article is hilarious and great and the posts are also equally entertaining, especially the jabs between “Mr.Abubakar” and Mr.Disco Maulvi. THere is ignorance and xenophobia on one side and the insistence on “Allah said so” on other side does not help educate either. Sexuality is normal and humans are allowed to cherish, celebrate and enjoy their sexuality in Islam but only with committed relationship of wife and husband. It is not intended to be “open” to all. The dance parties and proximity of hormone packed young boys and girls with music means there will be inappropriate touching, feeling etc which is classified as sinful under Islam. THe same is perfectly ok between a husband and wife, so Islam only regulates sexual expression and enjoyment for the good of overall society and to keep things in check. Unchecked, you can only imagine the worst of the worst. Also sexuality is special and needs to be enjoyed with someone special in safety of home and moral confines of marriage. Hope this helps. God bless all youth in this country and all over the world, may you make the world a better place.

  36. Avatar

    Haya Mohammed Al Lawati

    September 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    I love this lol. Thank god that in our school we don’t have prom nights. Btw question: Are you an Asian or Arab or any other country?

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#Culture

No, My Son | A Short Story

It was pure happenstance that Payedar Olan was sitting near the entrance of the masjid on the day the gunman entered and shot him. He had forgotten that here in America they changed the time twice a year…

San Francisco Islamic Society Mosque

It was pure happenstance that Payedar Olan was sitting near the entrance of the masjid on the day the gunman entered and shot him. He had forgotten that in America they changed the time twice a year, so he was an hour early for Friday congregational prayer. The little masjid at the top of a hill was almost empty, with only a few brothers praying, and one washing up in the ablutions room. So he sat with his back against the wall to relax and wait.

Such a strange thing, this time changing. The sun rose and set. How could men change it? But in America they believed they had power over all things.

Life here was bewildering. People zipped around on electric scooters, in Uber cars and in trains that rumbled beneath the ground. Skyscrapers blocked the sun. People wore strange costumes, and one could often not tell a woman from a man. The markets contained more food than anyone could need, much of it artificial, tasting too salty or too sweet. People smiled for no reason, while crazy people wandered the streets, shouting at nothing.

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This city and country had taken him in and given him shelter when his own homeland was being devoured by evil men; so he was grateful. Still, it was perplexing, and so far removed from his experience that sometimes he felt he was on a different planet.

The Kurdish Heart

A Kurdish village

Kurdish village

Payedar had been born in 1953 in Iraqi Kurdistan, in a mountain village called Gur-e-Sofia, reachable by traveling first on the Ruwandiz road from Erbil, then by a three hour climb up a mule track. His bav was a duck hunter, and his dê a midwife.

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In his village, whitewashed homes were built into steep hillsides in tiers, facing the sun. The mud of the roofs had to be rolled anew every September, before the winter rains, because in summer it would crack. Sheep and goats dotted the slopes. Most people grew barley or bearded wheat, and tobacco in summer, using oxen to plow the fields. Every family knew precisely how much water they could take for irrigation, and no one took more than their share, for fairness was ingrained in the Kurdish heart.

Walnut trees grew everywhere, and Payedar would shake them to bring the walnuts down, then crack them between two stones. Because of this he was never hungry, alhamdulillah.

He remembered his bav, his father, sitting at the village coffee shop, smoking rich Kurdish tobacco from a hookah pipe, and shouting exultantly as he won a round of backgammon. At home his dê cooked spiced kofta meatballs, bulgur pilaf and flatbread, with figs and sweetened black tea for dessert. Payedar, his parents and six siblings ate on the floor, sitting around a clean cloth. At night Bev led them in prayer, reciting the Quran in his powerful voice.

It was life, and he was happy, until he was eight years old and the Kurdish-Iraqi war began. His three older brothers and one sister went to fight and never returned. The village was bombed. Many were killed and many homes were destroyed. Even the small masjid was reduced to rubble. His bav fell into despondency, and one day went out to hunt ducks and blew his own head off.

Payedar, the eldest remaining child, became the breadwinner. Twice a month he loaded up a mule with white grapes, tobacco and walnuts and traveled over the mountain to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where he sold them at a good profit. It was hazardous work. More than once he was injured. Three times he was robbed.

These dangers were balanced by getting to see Erbil, a city of a million people. A million! Where ancient Assyrian and Roman monuments and citadels mixed with four-story buildings and a modern soccer stadium. Women went out with their forearms uncovered, people wore Western jeans and shirts, and music played from boomboxes sold in shops filled with electronic goods. At the same time, Erbil was a frequent target of Iraqi bombs, and it was not unusual to see bodies in the streets.

The Dying and the Dead

The war ended when he was seventeen, and began again when he was twenty one. This time he joined the Kurdish peshmerga and fought the Iraqi invaders, sending his salary home to his mother.

Female peshmerga fighters

Female peshmerga fighters

It was in the war that he met his wife, Letya. Her name, which meant tiny and womanly, matched her stature, if not her personality, for she too was a member of the peshmerga, and the first time he saw her she was in a soldier’s uniform with a Soviet rifle in her hands, her fierce black eyes promising death to the enemies of the Kurds, and her long black hair streaming in the hot southern wind.

He killed many men, and saw many die. Back home in Sofia-e-Gul one of his two younger sisters got married and moved away, while the other, out one day foraging for food, was kidnapped by Iraqi soldiers, raped and killed. Shortly afterward his mother died of loneliness and heartbreak. He returned home to bury her, his tears falling into the rich mountain soil atop her grave. Sofia-e-Gul was now populated only by old people waiting to die, and by the dead in the cemetery. The fields lay untended, many homes half-destroyed, the animals lost. He prayed, begging Allah’s forgiveness for leaving his mother alone. He did not ask for Allah’s mercy on his mother, for it was unnecessary. She was a saint, and if anyone in the world deserved Paradise it was her.

He left Sofia-e-Gul and never returned.

Payedar and Letya were married as the war raged, and when the Kurdish militias lost and the Kurdish region was overrun by Iraqi troops, they fled to the Kurdish border region in Iran. There Payedar worked as an assistant to a stone mason. He and Letya raised two boys and a girl.

San Francisco Islamic Society Mosque

These were the things Payedar was thinking about as he sat with his back against the wall in the little masjid. Lately it seemed his mind dwelled more in the past than the present. Sometimes he found himself standing on a street corner in this American city, thinking about the feel of his father’s bristly mustache when he kissed Payedar goodnight, or the smell of his wife’s hair, redolent with the day’s cooking – or, if she had bathed, with the scent of fermented rice-water shampoo. Then someone would interrupt his reverie, some Spanish girl with green hair, or a goateed man with earrings and a baby in a belly sling, and ask if he was alright. And he would smile and thank them.

He had no complaints about the way his life had turned out. He’d lost so much, yes. But he’d been a fighter all his life, and what more could any man do? Everything was in Allah’s hands. Whatever had happened was always going to happen, and whatever had passed him by was always going to pass him by. There was nothing he could say in the end but alhamdulillah. And if he was fortunate, he would meet his lost ones in Jannah, and all would be well.

Boots On

The gunman entered with his boots on. That was the first thing Payedar noticed, glancing to his left and seeing the military boots on the plush carpet of the prayer room. His eyes shot up to take the man in: tall, white, with a powerful frame. Green eyes and a scattering of freckles across his cheeks. Brown hair in a buzz cut. Dressed in green army fatigues, and carrying a semi-automatic rifle. The gun was pointed toward the mehrab as the man’s head swiveled, taking in the interior of the masjid.

The man seemed confused. Maybe he too had been fooled by the time change, and was expecting to find a full congregation. Maybe his eyes were adjusting to the gloom, for the interior lights had not yet been turned on, and the masjid was all cool shadows and lazily spinning ceiling fans.

The gunman’s hesitation gave Payedar the time he needed. He leaped up and embraced the man tightly, throwing his arms over the man’s arms, pinning them to his sides so that the rifle pointed at the ground. “No, my son,” Payedar said intensely, whispering in the man’s ear as if telling secrets to a confidante. “No.”

“Get off me you goddamn terrorist!” the man bellowed. He struggled, nearly falling. He was strong, but Payedar also was strong, for though he was sixty seven years old he had been a stone mason for decades, and the work had given him a broad back and muscular arms.

“No, my son,” he said again, his voice rising. “I will not allow it. I cannot, I cannot.” He heard other men shouting in panic and confusion, but he did not turn to look.

“I’ll kill you!” the man drove forward, but Payedar held on. The gun went off. The sound ricocheted off the walls like the roar of a cannon. Someone screamed. Payedar’s foot exploded with pain. Starbursts appeared before his eyes. Yet he kept his arms clasped. “No, my son,” he said again, desperately. ‘No, my son.” He was pleading, but not for his life. He and death were old friends or old enemies – he could not tell anymore. Sometimes you hated a man but admired him. So it was with Payedar and death. No, he was pleading for this man to understand, to stop before it was too late.

“GET OFF ME YOU CRAZY OLD MAN!”

Again the gun fired, and this time it was as if a sword had been driven into Payedar’s thigh. He closed his eyes and groaned in agony, but held on. Again he pleaded, his voice filled with something that might have been anger but might also have been love, and this time it was a shout, driven by pain and desperation. “No my son!”

The gunman stopped struggling. Payedar felt the man’s body go limp within the circle of his embrace. He opened his eyes to meet a gaze filled with hatred and rage, but also confusion and shame. Now that the man had stopped struggling, Payedar seemed to have lost his own ability to fight, as if he had drawn his energy from the other’s seething will. His arms grew slack and the world turned monochrome, as if he were seeing everything on the old television he and Letya had purchased when the children were still small and still alive. Pain filled his mind, and he could not stand.

Arms seized Payedar and the gunman. Both fell. Men were atop them, shouting in Arabic and English. Payedar’s mouth fell open as his eyelids came down like steel doors.

His Young Prince

Hospital IV bag

Two surgeries and a week in the hospital, and he was on his way to recovery. People said he was a hero. Visitors from the masjid were allowed in two at a time, but Payedar found their visits tiring. Reporters wanted to see him, but his son Ekrem shielded him. Payedar had no desire for fame. Police came as well. He told the story in halting English, and picked the gunman out of a selection of photos on a card.

Sometimes he did not know where he was. A hospital, but he had been in many clinics and field hospitals. He had been shot twice before, bombed, struck with grenade shrapnel, and tortured in an Iranian jail, where he was accused of being a Kurdish separatist.

When he became confused he remained silent and waited stiffly. Eventually Ekrem would appear, sometimes with his beautiful wife Amirah, and Payedar would relax, for even if he did not know where he was he knew that Ekrem was his young prince, his joy and legacy, and that if Ekrem was there then everything was fine.

Later, he awoke on the sofa in Ekrem’s living room. Usually he slept in a tiny upstairs room, but he had a titanium rod in his thigh and a cast from knee to toe. He let out a groan. His leg and foot ached as if a lion were gnawing on the bones. He’d experienced worse pain in life. But he was old now.

Amirah stood over him, speaking. “Apê. Tu dixwazî hin çay bi şekirê dixwazî? Dem dema dermanê we ye.” Uncle, would you like tea with sugar? It’s time for your medication.

Payedar smiled at this princess, this beautiful African-American Muslim woman who had given him two grandsons and had even learned Kurdish!

Trying not to show how much his leg hurt, he rubbed his eyes and yawned. “How about some mast-aw?” he replied in Kurdish. It was an old joke. Mast-aw was a Kurdish favorite: heated goat’s milk mixed with sour goat’s milk to curdle it, then with cold water. Of course it could not be found in America.

“Honey,” Amirah called in English. “He wants mast-aw.”

“Coming up.” Ekrem emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray with a single glass of milk perched in the center, and four pills beside it. The boys trooped at his heels, grinning. Payedar looked at his son, with his curly hair and long, proud nose. He was sturdy, for he too was a stonemason, having learned at Payedar’s side.

Payedar smiled at this prank. The pasteurized, homogenized milk sold in America was a far cry from mast-aw. But he took the glass without complaint, and downed a few pills. His eyes widened. The drink was thick and tangy, rich with the flavors of his homeland. It was mast-aw! He had not tasted it in many years, and for a moment the flavor took him back, so that he was a child, sitting on the floor with his parents and siblings after a long day of trooping over the mountains with his bav. The children enjoyed mast-aw and boiled wheat with sugar, and when his older brother tried to talk about the war Bav shushed him. His sister told a joke about a cat that tried to ride a bicycle, and Payedar laughed.

Remembering this, he laughed again, and witnessing this, Ekrem and his family laughed as well, and Payedar returned to the present. “This is miracle,” Payedar said in English, and his family grinned and told him how they had sourced all the ingredients.

Moments like this were a barakah, and Payedar was filled with gratitude to Allah. If only… he faltered, his hand shaking, nearly dropping the glass, so that Amirah took it quickly. A tear ran down his cheek. Ekrem was beside him, touching his shoulder. “What is it, Bav? Is something wrong?”

Payedar shook his head. “You are the spirit of my heart, Ekrem. All of you.” He reached a hand to his grandsons and they piled onto the sofa. “I wish…” He could not continue. He wished Letya, his wife, could have lived long enough to see this new land. And Sara, his daughter, gassed by Saddam Hussein along with her husband and children. And Baz, his firstborn, a lifelong soldier.

Ekrem rubbed his shoulder. “I know, Bav.”

“Can I try the mast-aw?” This was Ibrahim, his youngest grandson, a wide-faced boy with curly black hair and dark eyes, only four years old. His mother gave him the glass and he took a sip, then coughed and grimaced. “Eww!”

Payedar chuckled. “You are American boy. You better stick to apple juice.”

* * *

An assistant district attorney came to see him. A rail-thin blonde woman with spectacles like tea glasses. The gunman, whose name was Amundsen, had so far refused to speak to the police. He said he would only speak to, “the old man.”

“Meaning you, Mr. Olan,” the ADA said. “You’d be doing us a favor.”

Good Crazy or Bad Crazy

They met in a room in the county jail building. It was painted steel gray, with a thick window beyond which a tall black guard watched. There were no cameras or listening devices, as far as Payedar could tell.

The gunman, Amundsen, sat across from Payedar at a metal table that was bolted to the ground. The man wore orange jail coveralls with “JAIL INMATE” printed on the chest and back. He was handcuffed, his ankles shackled, another chain connecting hands and feet to a belly chain, and the whole mess chained to a steel eye loop welded to the table. The man was unmarked. No bruises or burns. Back home he would have been tortured until he confessed. Here they had to appeal to him, negotiate, reason. America was crazy. But good crazy or bad crazy? Both, Payedar supposed.

Payedar wore the traditional clothing of his homeland: a dark vest over a white robe, a black turban, and boots. He did not always dress thus. Sometimes he wore typical Western clothing. He was not sure why he had chosen to dress this way today.

The gunman eyed him. There was some hostility in that look, but not as much as Payedar had expected. The man seemed almost curious. “You speak English?”

“Yes. I learn.”

The chains rattled as Amundsen gestured to Payedar’s leg. “You gonna be alright?”

Payedar nodded.

“You really messed me up.”

“You mess up yourself.”

“Yeah.”

Neither of them said anything for a while. Payedar studied the gunman. The man’s eyes were intelligent, his jaw set tightly. A forearm tattoo peeked out beneath the sleeve of his coverall. His torso was as wide as a barrel. Payedar was amazed he’d been able to hold the man. In fact, he could not see how it was possible.

“Why did you say that?” the gunman wanted to know.

“Say what?” Though he knew.

“You know. You called me your son. You kept saying that. Even when I shot you. What the hell, man? I’m not your son.”

Payedar flushed with embarrassment. But he had agreed to talk to the man, so he answered. “Sometimes I get confused. At that time I thought you was my son, Baz.”

Amundsen stared, then shook his head and laughed. “Unbelievable. I got stopped by a senile old kook. Do I look like your son?”

“Little bit. Big and strong. He was soldier, fighting the Iraqis. Seven years ago, when ISIS start to invade our land, Baz come to me, say he going to fight them. I did not want. I lose so many people already. So I hug him, I tell him, no, my son. Do not go.”

Amundsen frowned. “Your son was going to fight against ISIS? I thought you Muslims supported ISIS.”

“You are fool!” Payedar snapped. “Never say this. Do you understand what ISIS did to my people? They attack the Yazidi villages because the Yazidis are Christian, not Muslim. So ISIS kill the men, take the women and rape them. My son cannot accept this, so he go to fight, to protect them.”

“So…” Amundsen’s mouth hung open as he took in what Payedar was telling him. “Your son fought to protect Christians?”

“Muslim, Christians, one people. They are Kurds.”

“What happened to him?”

“What you think?” Not wanting to speak it out loud.

The room fell silent. Payedar looked around absently, taking in the clean floor and walls, the even light from the fluorescents embedded in the ceiling. He looked at the jail guard on the other side of the window, who stood calmly, watching them both. Payedar’s mind wandered, traveling through time, crossing borders and eras in an instant, feeling the touch of his wife’s lips on his cheek, whispering her love. She had loved him like a fighter, fiercely, unreservedly. Then his mind swept forward like a flash flood in a mountain ravine, and he was once again in the present, in this tiny room in a foreign city far from home. His gaze returned to Amundsen, who in turn studied him silently. No one spoke.

The end

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

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The Conundrum | A Short Story

disaster

It was all over the news. The earthquake had wiped out whole towns. The entire country was in shock. Upcoming festivals were cancelled and citywide donation drives were springing up everywhere. Charity organizations were activating their networks and sending teams of volunteers to help in the rescue efforts.

“This is God’s punishment for all the evil things we do,” her uncle said mournfully.

She was confused. If they were doing bad things, then shouldn’t they be dead too? She looked at her father to see what he would say. He shook his head and countered, “That’s not true, you know. This is a trial from God. And it is a reminder for us to be conscious of Him and be aware of His power. So that we may worship Him more.”

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“So, you’re saying that bad things don’t happen because of our wicked deeds?” her uncle challenged his brother.

“No, they can, but we have no way of knowing for certain. After all, God also promises us that He will test us to see which of us is better in action. As a reminder of His presence and power.”

“So, you prefer to turn a blind eye to God’s punishment just because you’re not sure?” He asked incredulously.

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“Of course not. All I am saying is that I don’t know – and neither do you! So, instead of delving into God’s matters and condemning everyone, especially the victims, we should focus on rectifying our own selves! This is a time for astaghfar, for asking forgiveness,” her father shook his head again.

“Well, that’s precisely my point! If we see this as punishment, it will strike fear in our hearts and make us change our ways, so we can avert another disaster!”

“Yes, but the problem with that logic is that, in the process, you have denounced whole swaths of people who may be completely innocent. Only God knows,” he emphasized.

She was so proud of her father. His explanation made so much more sense, but she couldn’t resist asking, “Baba, why would God let such a terrible thing happen?”

“Because He is angry,” her uncle immediately responded. Apparently, he hadn’t changed his mind.

“My dear,” her father began, ignoring his brother.

“God’s plan and vision is much greater than what we see. Life and death are a reality of life. Every person must die. It is really sad what has happened to all of these people, but we must also remember that God gives us the reassurance that if believers die in such a state, they are martyrs. What a high station! Which is why it baffles me every time I hear that somehow this was a punishment,” he pointedly remarked, looking at his brother who stayed quiet.

He sighed and continued, “For those who are gone, we must pray for their souls. And take care of the survivors. As for us, we need to draw ourselves nearer to God and follow His guidance, so that when our turn comes, we are ready.”

He pulled her close to him and she felt safe.

-end-

“The author is grateful to Prof. Ovamir Anjum for his kind assistance during the writing of this story.”

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Launch of Zaid Karim Private Investigator!

Where did the idea for Zaid Karim come from, how much is based on real events, and what is next for Zaid?

Zaid Karim, Private Investigator

I’m so excited to share the release of Zaid Karim Private Investigator.

This novel has been three years in the making: from when I first began serializing it on MuslimMatters.org in early 2017, to its completion on MM nine months later, to the first wave of revisions based on comments by my editor Amy Estrada and the MM readers, to the final revision after further input from another editor, Rafael Lopez.

If you’ve already read it online, I encourage you to buy the new ebook or paperback. There’s nothing like holding a physical copy in your hands. And there have been some changes.

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One thing I’ve consistently noticed in the input I’ve received from MM readers is that a lot of you are doctors! My characters always seem to get injured, and apparently I often make mistakes when describing their treatment or symptoms. And the MM readers call me on it. I’m grateful for that, and I have always made changes to the story in response.

The final version is, in my opinion, tight as a drum. I added a few minor transitional scenes, and eliminated a lot of irrelevant musings by Zaid that tended to take the reader away from the action. Zaid has an irreverent and odd sense of humor, and that flavors the book, but Rafael Lopez pointed out that the inclusion of this humor during climactic moments sabotages the tension of the story, and he was right. So I ended up deleting some of those.

A key change from the MM version occurs during the climactic battle on Ouagadiri Island. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll say that it was an important change, and had to do with how I see Zaid, and how he sees himself. Let me know if you read the book and catch the change, and what you think.

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Here are some answers to questions I often receive about Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and about my writing process in general:

Q: How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?

A: Telling the true story of my life would be problematic. So I fictionalize. Every novel I’ve written has some autobiographical elements, with fictional events and invented characters mixed it. Lately, in my short stories, I’ve been trying to branch out more and create characters that are wholly fictional. Well, let me amend that. I create characters whose lives are based on real-world social dynamics and believable situations. I want emotional honesty above all. The particular circumstances of their lives, however, are invented.

Q: How did you get the idea for this book?

East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles

A: When I was twenty one years old I helped a friend track down and find his young missing daughter. But it was quite different from the narrative in Zaid Karim. For example, we started our search in East Los Angeles, first talking to people, then breaking down doors. Along the way we crashed our car in Mazatlan, had a nearly disastrous run-in with the Mexican police in Guadalajara, got in an argument with South African Tablighi Jamaat members at the Egyptian Club in Mexico City, were invited to a bizarre meeting of wealthy Mexican sufis, and ended up in the mountains of southern Mexico. That incident was the seed for Zaid Karim.

As for the setting in the latter half of the book, I lived in Panama for four years, and in fact I lived in El Valle de Anton, the idyllic little town where Yusuf Cruz lives. Though my house was not a mansion!

Q: Zaid’s kind of violent, isn’t he?

A: Yes, at times. He is young, and he’s been through a lot. He wants to change, but doesn’t know how. He needs some catalyst to transform his thinking. I suspect that novel that Alejandra gave him, On My Way to Paradise, will play a role. As he continues to grow, I believe we’ll see him evolve.

Q: So you plan to write more Zaid Karim mysteries?

A: Depends on how well this one sells. If you want to see more, buy ten copies: one for you, and nine for your friends, ha ha.

Q: What about a crossover between Zaid Karim and Hassan Amir?

A: It could happen. Zaid is Jamilah’s cousin, after all, and their stories happen around the same time.

Q: Who would win in a fight between Zaid and Hassan?

A: Lol, why would they be fighting? But here you go:

  • Gunfight: Hassan.
  • Sticks: Zaid.
  • Knives: Even match.
  • Empty hands: Hassan, by a mile.

Q: What’s next for Zaid Karim?

A: His body will need healing time and therapy, but knowing Zaid he will probably plow right ahead. He needs to investigate this so-called convert who is trying to radicalize the youth. We will learn more about the event that enabled him to be pardoned and released from prison early. We just might learn more about the strange comment made by Farah Anwar regarding Zaid’s mother, that she should have “aborted you and kept the lame one.” Zaid will almost certainly return to Panama, to find Angie and try to help her, especially now that he is a foster father to he daughter. Lastly, an important figure from Zaid’s past, a person of power and influence, might call upon him to investigate a crime he is uniquely qualified to handle. Stay tuned.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. 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.

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