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A Lion is Born|Part 5: Wedding? What Wedding?

Hassan whispered in Layth’s ear. “Give her your coat and count your blessings. Some women ask for gold and a new house. You’d better do something quick.”


This is part 5 of a multipart series; you can find the other parts here: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

January 2009

Layth cruised up Highway 101 in the fast lane, on his way back to the City from the airport. He’d dropped a fare at the international terminal, waited in the cab line and picked up a return fare. Between the two, he’d already covered his gate – you couldn’t beat that.

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The three month probationary period that Kadija had demanded had gone by like a dream. Layth had never felt so at peace – indeed, he’d never believed he could. He whistled as he drove his cab, and recited verses from the Quran at other times. And yes, sometimes he still popped in a CD and listened to the cool, flowing sounds of Pieces of a Dream. But he was living the dream now, building it day by day.

His past had not disappeared. The events that had haunted him in the past still troubled his thoughts. The shame that had kept him stuck in place lingered in his chest like a blood stain that wouldn’t wash out. He still dreamed about Iraq, but it was all less intense: painful but not paralyzing. At the same time, unfamiliar emotions blossomed like a newly planted garden. Hope. Joy. Self-acceptance.

He was not a singing, swaying hippie with blonde dreadlocks and a tie-dyed t-shirt, smoking pot and singing Dust in the Wind. He wasn’t happy all the time. He even had moments of doubt. But he was at peace, and good God that was a relief! His scars had stopped itching entirely, and he didn’t feel like psychoanalyzing himself on that matter. He was glad enough to let it be. Alhamdulillah. His new favorite word. It said everything, it encompassed happiness, food on the table, and life itself.

He thought about Hassan’s strategy for living with memories of war. Remember the good deeds you’ve done and the people you saved. Layth had been replaying an incident in his mind. Two years ago he’d been on a search mission south of Baghdad with his squad. There had been a rumor of a cache of weapons in a riverbank village. The squad was on foot, moving through light forest and wetlands. It was springtime and the rivers and streams were swollen.

When they arrived at the village they found it torched by insurgents. Smoking rubble lay everywhere and the village stank of gunsmoke and charred flesh. If there was a weapons cache, Louis (in the context of the war he would always be Louis in his own mind) could not find it. The villagers were in bad shape. Many were wounded, and all were hungry. Some had been killed, and their family members, harried and frightened, had buried their loved ones hastily in shallow graves. They feared another attack and were trying to escape into the marshes south of the village, but the children and elderly could not cross the wide river.

“We’ll carry them.” That was Becket, the com specialist.

“Forget that,” Hale said. “I didn’t sign on to be no mule.” Hale was a big country boy from one of the flyover states. Ferocious fighter, bad attitude.

Louis considered. The mission was the weapons dump, but they weren’t due back at the FOB for another six hours.

“Alright,” Louis said. “Becket, call in a flyover. South side of the river, five clicks deep. In the meantime, let’s give these people whatever food we can spare. Tobias, see what you can do for the wounded. Up to half our med supplies, no more.”

Ten minutes later an F-16 roared overhead, buzzed the south shore twice, then radioed an all-clear. Louis nodded. “Alright, everyone. Find a piggyback partner. Young and old only. Don’t touch any women over twelve or under sixty. Hale, start with that boy there.” Louis knew that Hale had a little brother back home. Maybe he’d connect to the kid.

It was an unforgettable sight: Nine men wading across a fast-moving river, water lapping at their waists, each with an Iraqi child or senior on his back, not to mention their packs and weapons. For the women they stretched a rope halfway across the river, anchored by two soldiers on each side. The women grasped the rope as they struggled through the current. Once they made it midway, the soldiers shifted the rope to the other half. People shouted instructions and encouragement to one another, making themselves heard over the din of rushing water.

The boy on Hale’s back wrapped his arms tightly around the big man’s neck. On the opposite bank of the river the boy hugged Hale’s leg, and Louis thought Hale looked almost teary-eyed.

Louis’ first passenger was a frail, elderly man wearing sandals, a white robe and a red-and-green checked keffiyeh on his head. His white beard tickled the back of Louis’ neck as they crossed. The cool water came up to Louis’ chest at its deepest point; he struggled to keep his footing. Halfway across the river the man said in Arabic, “God bless you, my son. I am Shaykh Nidal At-Timimi and you are my honored guest anytime.”

It took four trips to ferry everyone across, and the men returned to the FOB weary but talking animatedly about the experience. That had been a good day. One of those rare nights when Louis had gone to sleep without wondering why he was there.

He would hold on to that day. Maybe one day he would return and find Shaykh Nidal, and pray with him. He smiled at the thought.

His cell phone rang, interrupting his reveries. He checked the caller ID. His mom. He sighed.

“Hello Mom.”

“John 3:16,” his mother said. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son – “

Layth interrupted her. “I know the verse, Mom. And I’m great, thanks. How are you?”

“Then why don’t you follow it?”

“Because I don’t believe it. In Islam we have our own holy book, the Quran, and it says that God does not beget, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him.

“But that’s not a real holy book. The Bible is the only holy book.”

“Gotta go, Mom. I’m working. Love you.” Layth hung up.

As Layth expected, his mother had freaked out about his conversion to Islam. When he first told her, she insisted that he’d obviously been brainwashed by the Iraqis. “They did a Manchurian Candidate on you,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you straightened out. No son of mine is going to Hell.” She flew to San Francisco on the next plane.

When Layth picked her up at the airport she started right in. “Jesus died for your sins. How can you betray him? I didn’t raise you to be a terrorist…” Layth kept his mouth shut and nodded his head. He did not tell her about the name change.

At Layth’s apartment, his mother commenced her inspection, presumably searching for bomb-making materials and multiple wives in burqas. What she found instead was a tidy apartment that smelled of lemon cleaner and Chinese breakfast buns. Smooth jazz played on the radio; Layth was clean and sober. At prayer time she watched as Layth bowed and prostrated.

“Who do you pray to?” she demanded.

“To God, of course,” Layth said. “The Creator of all. What you would call God the Father.”

“Is that so? And what about Jesus?”

“Muslims believe in Jesus as a Prophet of God and a great man. We honor him but we don’t worship him.”

Mom didn’t like that, but on the whole the situation was apparently less dire than she expected. She returned to Florida still skeptical, but no longer angry. Miracles happen, Layth thought. What’s next, world peace?

As for Kadija, Layth had been counting the months, weeks, days and lately the hours. Today would be exactly three months since he’d taken his shahadah. He had tried not to obsess over Kadija, and he’d succeeded to some degree. But if there was such a thing as true love in this life, then this was it. The woman was in his bones like marrow.

He was prepared for the possibility that she might refuse him. He knew he was no great catch. A war veteran with a scarred face and a past problem with alcohol. Taxi driver. Fledgling Muslim. She’d be right to turn him down. If that happened, he couldn’t lie, he’d be devastated. But he’d survive. He was Muslim now, do or die. There wouldn’t be any falling apart, drinking or any of that mess. Layth was on the path now, in the deen, and there he would remain, Insha’Allah.

Right on cue, as if his phone had been counting the days as well, it buzzed with a text message alert. Louis checked it surreptitiously, not wanting his passenger to see him using the phone. From Hassan: Meet me at the masjid tonight at 8 pm. He didn’t say whether Kadija would be there. Huh.

After work Layth showered, prayed Maghreb, then donned his expensive woolen peacoat to ward off the January chill. A Christmas gift to himself the year before last, the coat used to be the only nice thing he owned. Layth smiled at that. The coat wasn’t quite so beautiful now, with the knife slash across the shoulder and the blood stain that had faded but not quite disappeared.

When he entered the Islamic Center his heart leaped into his throat. Kadija sat on the floor in the rear of the masjid with Hassan, Imam Salman, a young Egyptian-American brother named Muhammad who worked with Hassan, and… Leslie? Kadija’s neighbor? She wore a blue scarf – one of Kadija’s probably – and was looking around with wide eyes, as if entranced by the idea that she was in a mosque. She saw Layth and gave him a little wave.

Layth offered the greetings and sat next to Hassan. “What’s up?” he asked. “I thought this conversation might be a little more, I don’t know, private. Me, Kadija and Hassan.” He glanced at Kadija, who gave him nod and a smile.

“No brother,” Imam Salman said. “We need witnesses.” Imam Salman, an Egyptian with a bald head and ready smile, had been present when Layth took his shahadah, and since then Layth had come to know and respect him. Salman was knowledgeable and open-minded. At the moment, however, he wasn’t making sense.

“I am acting as wali or representative for sister Kadija,” Salman said. “Muhammad and Hassan are witnesses.”

“And I’m here for moral support,” Leslie said with a grin.

Layth had expected this meeting would be an opportunity for him to talk to Kadija – with Hassan present – and find out if she had any interest in marrying him. Befuddled, he listened as Imam Salman proceeded to praise Allah, then recite a few verses from the Quran. He then recited some statements from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the importance of marriage.

“Marriage is a joy in many ways,” Imam Salman continued. “You share the ups and downs of life with someone you love. You support them in sickness, poverty, debt, and grief; and in health, wealth, and joy. You strive together to worship Allah more perfectly, and accompany each other on the road to Jannah, Insha’Allah.”

“We know the statement of the Prophet that we are not believers until we love for our brothers what we love for ourselves. Our husbands and wives are also our Muslim brothers and sisters, so we must love for our spouses what we love for ourselves. Put your loved one first. Ask yourself, ‘How can I make my spouse happy? How can I be a springboard for my spouse to achieve his or her dreams? How can I illuminate for my spouse the path to Paradise?”

“If only one of you does this then he may begin to feel resentment. But if both of you do it, you will find a lifetime of joy, Insha’Allah.”

Imam Salman spoke for another ten minutes. He said that people tended to focus only on love, but that what marriage needed most of all was kindness, respect, trust and communication, and that if those four elements were present then the love would sprout and grow into a great and fruitful tree.

The words were beautiful, and Layth was just thinking that he would love to have Imam Salman say these exact words as a marriage sermon at his wedding someday, when the Imam wrapped it up and said, “What do you have for mahr?”

“What?” Layth said. “I don’t understand.”

Hassan leaned in and whispered in Layth’s ear. “Mahr is the dowry gift. You have to give the bride something of value. It’s a condition for the wedding.”

Layth’s eyes opened wide. “Wedding? What wedding?”

Everyone turned to look at him. “Why do you think we are here, brother?” Imam Salman said. “I thought you were ready to marry this sister.”

“Marry?” Layth’s brain tried to process this information, but his thoughts were logjammed. “I…”

“Hassan!” Kadija said. “Didn’t you talk to him?”

“I told him to be here,” Hassan said defensively. “I assumed you two had spoken.”

“I wish I were recording this,” Muhammad said. “It’d be a hit on YouTube.”

“It seems there has been a misunderstanding,” Imam Salman said. “Brother Layth, do you wish to marry Kadija?”

“Well, yes, very much, but.. I mean.. yeah!”

“Good. Ma-sha-Allah. Where is the mahr?”

“I don’t have anything,” Layth said. “I mean, I could put something together by tomorrow…”

“I’ll take your peacoat,” Kadija said.

Layth laughed, not sure if she was joking. She wanted his coat? “Uhh… it’s my only winter coat.”

“It’s what I’m asking for,” Kadija said.

“It’s damaged.” He fingered the slash. “And a blood stain…”

“Louis Carl Hedstrom!” Kadija exclaimed. “You know what? Forget it. I have other places I can be.” She began to rise, clearly upset. “Imam Salman, I’m sorry we wasted your time.”

Hassan whispered in Layth’s ear again. “Give her your coat and count your blessings. Some women ask for gold and a new house. You’d better do something quick.”

“Wait!” Layth stood. “I’m sorry, I was caught off guard. I…” Layth looked around at the others, all watching him, and his face flushed. “I have wanted no other woman from the moment I laid eyes on you, Kadija. I would be honored to be your husband. And I’m grateful that you would accept this humble coat as your mahr. Please, take it.” He removed his coat and handed it to the Imam. “Also… I promise you everything that I have, my heart and… the strength of my hands, and…”

“Louis,” Kadija said, wiping a tear from her cheek.


“You’re sweet, but you’re babbling.” She nodded to Imam Salman. “Please continue,” she said.

“Do you accept this coat as mahr?” the Imam asked.

“Sure as sugar,” Kadija said.

“Do you accept brother Layth’s proposal of marriage, freely and with no reservations?”

“I do.”

“And are you, Hassan and Muhammad, witnesses to this?”

They both murmured their assent.

“Do the witnesses have anything to say?”

“Marriage is made in heaven,” Muhammad said, “But so are thunder and lightning.”

Layth laughed in spite of himself, and Kadija said, “Zip it, brother Muhammad.”

“Then,” the Imam said, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful; and acting as Kadija’s wali and representative; and by the authority vested in me by the State of California; I now pronounce Layth and Kadija husband and wife.”

The Imam produced a certificate of marriage from an accordion file. Layth and Kadija each signed it, then the two witnesses, and the Imam last of all.

Layth hugged the men one by one, then faced Kadija. He could hardly believe this was real. It was like one of those sweet dreams that you woke from with a feeling of wistfulness, wishing you could go back to sleep and re-enter the dream, but knowing it was impossible. Except this wasn’t a dream. SubhanAllah!

Kadija lifted her chin and smiled at Layth. “Husband,” she said.

Layth broke into a wide grin that crinkled even his eyes. “I guess I am. Now what?”

“I have a suggestion,” Hassan said. He handed Layth an envelope. “Open this later. And mabrook, brother. Congratulations.”


Layth and Kadija sat hand-in-hand on a wooden swing on the deck of their cabin. Behind them the coastal mountain range rose like an ancient army of giants, covered in sequoia, fir and majestic redwood trees. Before them was a well-tended lawn blooming with wildflowers, then a steep cliff that plummeted into the wild blue Pacific, where the waves seemed to crash in time with Layth’s own heart. A while ago he’d spied a pod of dolphins passing by, leaping out of the water as if celebrating the joy of life. Now he watched a family of sea lions on the beach below, basking in the sun and occasionally barking loudly. The breeze blew steadily off the ocean, carrying to Layth and Kadija the scents of seaweed and far-off shores.

It was all incredibly beautiful and vital, but none more so than the warm hand in his. My wife’s hand. Layth’s scars had not itched in some time, and he did not shrink from Kadija’s touch.

“I still can’t believe Hassan did this,” Kadija said.

“He’s an… interesting brother,” Layth said. “I’ll always be in his debt.”

“Not in his debt,” Kadija said. “His friend and brother, like he said.”

The envelope Hassan had given Layth contained a brochure and reservation for a lodge on the Big Sur – a stretch of rugged, pristine California coastline that was as stunningly beautiful as anywhere on earth. Hassan had given them a three-day honeymoon trip, all expenses paid. Layth couldn’t understand how a bike messenger could afford that. Maybe he’d taken up a collection at the masjid? There had also been a note:

“Brother Layth, As-salamu alaykum. Please accept this wedding gift, and may Allah bless your honeymoon. Knowing you has inspired me, and I am grateful. If I can be so presumptuous, I feel like you are someone I can talk to, after not being able to talk to anyone for a long time. I hope that we will always be friends and brothers. May Allah grant you and Kadija joy in the dunya and aakihrah. – Hassan.”

“Are you happy?” Kadija said.

Layth laughed. “Are you kidding? I feel like I’m high on something I never knew existed. I have Allah, I have Islam, and I have you, my Egyptian queen.”

It was Kadija’s turn to laugh. “I’m not Egyptian,” she said. “Not as far as I know. But I’ll happily be your queen.”

Every waking moment since Layth’s surprise wedding had been like a dream, but not a shattered dream this time. No, the pieces had come together to form a dream as whole and shimmering as the sea. Layth felt a deep gratitude to Allah for bringing him to this point. How did he deserve this blessing? What had Allah seen in him to rescue him this way? Whatever it was, Layth would do his best to be worthy of God’s gifts. To be worthy of Kadija too, and even of Hassan.

“How about you?” Layth asked. “Are you happy?” Surprisingly, even now that they were husband and wife, he feared Kadija’s answer. He was afraid she would tell him that she’d made a mistake, or that she hadn’t realized that Layth was so messed up, or… who knows.

Kadija leaned into him, her warm body contrasting with the cool breeze gusting off the ocean. “Happy like I’ve never been before,” she said. “Alhamdulillahi-rabbil-aalameen.”


If you enjoyed this, please continue to the next story: “The Deal”. Jamilah is a young Palestinian-American bike messenger in San Francisco, until her bike is stolen. Without it she cannot work. Desperate, she makes a “deal” with Allah – but can she keep her end of the deal? (P.S. Layth and Kadija make appearances in that story as well).

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!

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

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and Uber Tales – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including,, and He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.



  1. Amy

    February 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    If I ever need a quick pick me up, I’m sure reading this installment will do it because it always leaves me in smiles.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Ma-sha-Allah. That’s nice to hear.

      • Abu Ubayd

        February 7, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Amazingly beautiful read … Your a excellent writer as the story comes to life in your head ..

  2. M

    February 5, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    SubhanAllah, I wish I could have a wedding like this one, quick and simple. The title is a bit misleading though, I was afraid those two might not get married in this part :)

    I had a question for you brother, since you are a writer, do you think it’s possible to become a writer without taking any proper writing classes, through just reading and practising? What would you suggest to young people who would like to have a career in writing but are discouraged because it’s not one of those high-paying jobs?

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      M, those are difficult questions. There may be some people who are so naturally gifted with language that they can succeed without training. But in general it’s best to study the art of writing, either in a college setting or on your own. Your local public library will have many good books about how to write. I regularly visit and read all the free articles. I also read a lot of fiction (or listen to audiobooks as I drive), paying attention to how the author sets the scene, builds the characters and maintains suspense in the plot.

      You’re right about one thing: practice is key. You can take all the classes in the world, but if you don’t sit down and write every day, you will not improve.

      About your other question, I’m in no position to advise, since I do not earn enough money from my writing to make it a career. Maybe one day that will happen for me, Insha’Allah. In the meantime you must have some motivation besides money, whether it’s the love of telling a story, a desire to share some part of yourself with the world, or something else.

      • Amy

        February 5, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        Also if I can add- not every career in writing is necessarily low paying. There are companies who employ writers to put together requests for grants or other proposals. Researchers have to do a lot of writing as well. Copy editors have to know enough about good writing to do their jobs effectively. I’m sure if you do some research, you could find a lot more jobs than what one normally would think that require superior writing skills. Maybe one day you’ll be writing speeches for a head of state!

  3. A

    February 5, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    Amazing series mashAllah! :)
    This is definitely my favourite part till now. May Allah guide us all to the truth and to have simple weddings in accordance with the hadith of the Prophet saww that the most blessed marriage is that which causes the least burden.
    I was so hooked to the story ever since pieces of a dream came, I checked muslimmatters almost every day to see if the next part had been uploaded. Please continue writing more series like these. In a world where filth like fifty shades of grey is being presented to us, we are in dire need of stories like Layth and Kadijas wonderful story.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 5, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      Thank you A, I’m so glad you liked it. Come back next week for the first chapter of “Kill the Courier”, Insha’Allah. It’s not as sweet and happy as this story, but you might enjoy it.

  4. Sarah B.

    February 5, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Masha’Allah! This story is like a breath of fresh air! Finally Layth has come full circle and is now living a happy fulfilling life as a Muslim, a person and by the end a husband. It’s wonderful to see two people coming together in marriage and loving each other for who they are and for the sake of Allah. This has been a truly wonderful experience reading your stories. Masha’Allah you are very talented, May Allah bless you always Ameen. I greatly look forward to the next story :).

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 5, 2014 at 11:57 PM

      Sarah, a truly happy union is indeed a wonderful thing. I hope to experience it myself, Insha’Allah.

  5. Gabriella

    February 5, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Hello. I’m 14 years old and I love this story so much, I’ve been obsessed with it. I have eagerly awaited each part, and I wish this wasn’t the last one. Jazakallah khayr, you have inspired me and renewed my faith. I’m definitely recommending this to my friends and family. Although I did wish you’d written more about how his family reacted. Being a Dominican/African American/Native American Muslim myself, with no other muslim family aside from my siblings and father, it would have been interesting to see how he dealt with that. Anyways thank you for this beautiful story brother Wael! It always makes me smile and I wish there were more stories like this.

    • Bint Yasa'ah

      February 5, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum Gabriella,

      I love this series too :) If you liked this series, you’ll definitely like the “If I Should Speak” trilogy. It’s just as amazing. You can check it out here: It’s definitely worth reading.

      I’m only a bit older than you by the way, don’t look at my name, it’s misleading, I know. But that’s just what I want to name my son when I’m older Insha’Allah. :)

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 6, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      Gabriella, I’m so glad you liked it. I think each writer has to draw from his/her own experience, interests, and strengths. I don’t have much experience with non-Muslim families reacting to a family member’s conversion. I tend to write stories about characters going through a personal struggle of some kind. Dealing with hidden or shameful pasts, struggling with inner demons, that kind of thing.

  6. Bint Yasa'ah

    February 5, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum Br. Wael,

    I love this series and I know many other people who do too. Have you ever considered getting the series published? With fictional Islamic books becoming more and more popular, I think these stories would sell big.


    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 6, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      Bint Yasa’ah, wa alaykum as-salam. Yes, these stories will all be collected into a book when they are complete Insha’Allah. I was thinking of self-publishing an e-book and looking for a print publisher.

      • A

        February 7, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        Yes please get it published soon! It will be such an amazing addition to bookshelves in all Muslim and non-Muslim homes inshAllah.

  7. Pingback: A Lion is Born|Part 5: Wedding? What Wedding? | Fall Into The T Shirt

  8. Shams

    February 6, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    Reading this with tears in my eyes. It is just so beautiful. Jazak’Allāhu khair for sharing such a beautiful story. I love the part, painful but not paralyzing. Its true. Very much true.

  9. Umm Meriem

    February 6, 2014 at 3:19 AM

    Really lovely story, ma shaa Allah. Baarak Allahu feeka. It’s very nice to have some fiction to read that is also Islamically relevant. Looking forward to the next series, and catching up with Amina, in shaa Allah.

  10. ummmanar

    February 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Mashallah I love this series amazing how you came up with idea. I can’t wait for anther series.I have been obsessed with it.

  11. iffat sharif

    February 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    yay!!! m so happy for layth and khadija :) MashaAllah awesome ending……and u know i laughed for five minutes at Muhammad’s comments….”youtube” and ”thunder and lighting ”!! amazing sense of humour !! haha… well brother,u made me learn sabr….one week!!! but it was worth the wait !! now again waiting for “The Deal ” !! :) As Salam Alaikum

  12. SA

    February 6, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Assalamu alaikum.
    I’ve really enjoyed this story. JazzakAllah khair. It has showed me that it’s alright to express your painful thoughts to someone. I am a person who holds back a lot, and so I really look forward to read more about Hassan and learn to share my feelings.

  13. Taqwa

    February 6, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Eloquently written masha’Allah! I love the ending!

  14. Jessi F.

    February 6, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    Beautiful mashaAllah.

  15. rayyan

    February 7, 2014 at 12:11 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum!
    This is such a beautiful ending to a beautiful story; sure it was filled with so many struggles and conflicts but those are what makes it so insightful and something many can relate to and learn from. I was hanging on to every word! Thank you for writing it.
    I’m also thrilled I got answers as it relates to Louis’ (well Layth’s) crippling remorse and how he moves on from that; a lesson to all I think, and his dealings with his family.
    Really loved their simple wedding as well; again another hot button issue of the ummah that needs attention and dialogue.
    Excellent work and I, and others too I think, look forward to getting snippets of Layth and Kadija’s story. In the meantime, very eager about the continuation of another great read.

  16. Humaira Khan

    February 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Loved how the end ties in with the beginning (pieces of a dream). “..not a shattered dream this time. No, the pieces had come together…”

  17. Saliha

    February 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    “Louis’ first passenger was a frail, elderly man wearing sandals, a white rope and a red-and-green checked keffiyeh”–should say robe.
    Aweome,love the story.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 9, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      He was a cowboy! He was carrying a rope. No, I corrected it, thanks. Good eye.

  18. Asmeeni

    February 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Loved this! Mashaallah brilliant storytelling. So glad it ended happily, leaves a great feeling behind :)

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 11, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Thank you Asmeeni! Come back tomorrow for the first installment of the next story, Insha’Allah.

  19. Ammena Tarannum

    February 16, 2014 at 1:01 AM


    The plot of the story is brilliant. But I have a question about conversations between Louis and Kadija, like:

    >>Louis reached for Kadija’s hand, but she pulled away. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m a Muslim woman and I’m not supposed to have any physical contact with a strange man.”
    “Am I strange?” Louis said.
    “Strange in this context only means that you’re not my husband or my relative,” Kadija explained.
    “I’m very sorry about your brother,” Louis said softly. “I’ve known others who did the same. It’s terrible.”

    >>“Oh, Louis!” Kadija’s eyes got round and she put her hand on her heart. “No, I didn’t mean it that way! I just meant that you walked with a kind of grace and power, and I suddenly thought of a jungle cat as I watched you.”
    Louis grunted wordlessly.
    Kadija nodded her head and raised her eyebrows. “Okay?” she said.
    “Yeah, okay.” Louis assented.

    >>Louis and Kadija exchanged a glance. Louis covered his mouth with his hand, and tried not to laugh.
    “Kadija,” Louis said. “You know how you said you had to avoid contact with me because I’m not your husband?”
    “Yeeeees,” Kadija said, drawing the word out with a questioning tone.
    “Well, hypothetically speaking, if you and I got to know each other and you found that you liked me… you know…”
    “I can’t marry a non-Muslim man, Louis, if that’s what you’re asking.”
    “Well, I wasn’t proposing marriage or anything.” Louis laughed. “But why can’t you, anyway?”
    “It’s not allowed in Islam.”
    “Why is that? I mean, isn’t love more important than rules? Isn’t God a God of love? Why should He want to keep people apart?”
    Kadija smiled and arched her eyebrows. “Are you saying you love me?”
    Louis felt his face get hot. He looked at the sandwich wrapper on the floor. “Well… I don’t know,” he said. “There’s something about you. I knew it the first time I met you. I do think about you.”
    “What do you think about me?” Kadija asked.
    Louis glanced at Kadija’s face, then back at the floor.
    “I think you are beautiful,” he said. “And you’re calm in a way that I need. I think… uhhh… I think you could save me.”
    Kadija sat back in her chair and let out a breath. “Wow,” she said. “I’ll tell you the truth, Louis, I think you are special too. And yes, I feel something. If you were Muslim, who knows?

    They are fine for being only a story, a romantic one. But to compose an ‘Islamic’ story they don’t seem to be appropriate, rather seem to be quite loose conversations between a man and a woman. Hence my humble question to Muslimmaters is:

    Do these conversations and acts fit in the Islamic way of behavior of a Muslim woman?


  20. Sulayma

    February 17, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum Br. Wael – I’ve been reading your stories always on time, always anticipating the next one, and I’m only finally commenting on here. As someone who loves to read but was never a fan of romantic novels, I find myself gravitating back to your stories and anxiously waiting for the next instalment, I believe probably because I can relate to many of the characters and what they have gone through. May Allah (SWT) continue to bless you with this gift, and may you continue to bring hope and light to peoples hearts, as I know many who are going through terrible times will find solace in these stories and reminders to keep them strong. Barak Allahu feik, and may you never tire of writing, and your passion only grow stronger :) Wsalam.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 9, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      Sulayma, wa alaykum as-salam. Thanks for finally commenting! I hope you’ll continue doing so, Insha’Allah. Ameen to your kind dua’.

  21. zen

    April 9, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    not gonna lie, this stuff is waaaaay better than fanfiction (mostly because its realistic and well written)

  22. Abdullah Bajaber

    April 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Ma sha Allah. Very nice. Keep it up. Have forwarded links to family & friends. Must say it is refreshing to have such stories in an Islamic context. Very inspiring. Baraka Allah feek wa jazaka Allah kheir brother Wael.

  23. Shehzeer

    December 15, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Assalamu alikkum,
    What a story brother !! It has woken me up from a spiritual slumber
    I read the whole story with the assumption that it was a true story. It seemed very real. Is ‘nt it ? Dont tell me brother, it was not a true story :)

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      December 18, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Thanks for your comment Shehzeer. The story is based on real people and events, but fictionalized.

  24. Sarah Muzaffar

    March 27, 2016 at 6:09 AM

    I just discovered this amazingly brilliant story! I loved every bit of it. I am a reader and love fiction of this sort but never in my life till now have I been able to read online and enjoy it at the same time. You see I am an admirer of the traditional paperback books and don’t really enjoy ebooks. But this one here, this series has had me hooked ever since I came across it. JazakAllah Khair it has been an amazing journey with Layth and Kadija. Loved and enjoyed every bit of it.Brother Wael, you have such a great talent for bringing the words to life. It felt as if it was happening very eyes, I could picture eveything so beautifully. Something I never thought I could feel with an ebook.

    Will be reading the next stories as well. Is there any personal blog or other space you have for your stories. Would love to read them.


    • Wael Abdelgawad

      March 27, 2016 at 1:39 PM

      Wa alaykum as-salam. Thank you for your lovely comment. It might interest you to know that I am in the process of converting these first two stories (Pieces of a Dream and A Lion is Born) into an e-book and paperback novel. I have already added plot lines about Layth’s relationship with his sister Gillian, and about him traveling to Florida to tell his parents about his conversion to Islam, and to deal with his father’s gambling problem. I also expanded a bit on his friendship with Hassan. The book should be ready by the end of summer, Insha’Allah.

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