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Exploring the Problems in Producing a Good Islamic Children’s Book

Given the fact that there are not enough Muslim professionals in the Arts, and the lack of a sizeable market to support their work, it stands to reasons that editors, writers, illustrators, musicians and others will only be part time in their work. This is not their main source of income and thus their standards can only go so high.


By: Mezbauddin Mahtab

Disclosure: I am an author of two books on Quran aimed at Muslim children. My work and all information of my books can be found on my site[i], and thus I have a vested interest in creating a demand for higher quality when it comes to Islamic books for children. This article is also written in response to a recent guest post on MuslimMatters[ii] about Muslim children’s books.  

The Problem

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As a Muslim kid growing up in the Middle East, my first exposure to books was Enid Blyton. Yes, we did have the mandatory nursery rhymes (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and the text books for school, but I got into reading as a serious hobby only after I discovered The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Five Find Outers and other fantastic adventure books by this prolific British author.

As I read about children of my age having bike rides in the English country side, and enjoying picnics with cream buns and lashings of ginger ale, and then fall into adventure by tackling Cornish smugglers by the sea cove, I wondered if I would ever see a Muslim character in one of my favourite books. What do you do when you are following a suspect and it’s time for Maghreb prayer? Is it halal for a boy to dress up as an old cleaning lady in disguise to eavesdrop on a counterfeiters’ meeting? And since dogs seemed to be a no-no as a Muslim child’s pet, can Tabby, the cat really help you solve the Case of the Mysterious Letters?

As I grew older, my interests moved on to The Hardy Boys (and yes, also Nancy Drew), and then on to science fiction, fantasy and so on. Sadly, Muslim characters were far and few between and mostly appeared as the bad guys. There seemed to be no books written for the Muslim reader, starring characters he or she can relate to, except for religious books and Islamic history (Stories of the Companions, anyone?).

The Good

And that brings us to the quality of these books. Before I can look in depth at the standard of books available for Muslim children, I do want to acknowledge the authors that wrote them and their efforts.

1. They took the initiative to do something themselves rather than wait for another person to come up with the perfect book.

As I can attest to, writing a book is an extremely time consuming process. Not only do you have to engage your creative faculties, there’s editing, working with others for cover design, dealing with the feedback, the publishers, the marketing and list goes on and on. An author who got a book published has spent a lot of their own time and effort, and rather than waiting for others to fill the void, they stepped up to the plate. For this, they must be applauded.

2. These authors have put their best foot forward, and now it’s for others to match and better their effort.

The first work in any field is hardy the best work in that field, but they pave the way for others to follow. These first books created a market and an ecosystem for Islamic books, and now others can reap the rewards.

3. These books never pay the rent.

The market that buys Islamic books for children in the West is a very small market. There is never enough of a demand that a person can make a living writing these books. Most authors do it due to altruistic reasons. For example, Tasnim Nazeer, the author of Allah’s Gifts, wrote the book after losing a child through miscarriage. She wrote the book to promote and appreciate the blessings of Allah, and to inculcate a sense of gratitude for our blessings. The money is nice, and helps validate the work and encourage future work, but it is not the main intention.

When I first started to illustrate verses from the Quran using LEGO© Bricks, it was just a mere hobby. Suddenly, however, my blog started to show a huge spike in the number of visitors, and soon I realized I had a hit on my hands. I recognized that there was a scarcity of the tafseer (exegesis) of Quran in an accessible manner for kids. It was then that I decided to write an illustrated book of Tafseer for Surahs using LEGO© Bricks, and started to investigate the world of children’s Islamic books.

There are quite a few gems out there. Khurram Murad’s The Long Search[iii] is one beautiful book that chronicles the life of Salman, the Persian raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). His other book, The Desert Chief, tells the story of Thumana Ibn Uthal, and The Brave Boy is the story of Ali ibn Abu Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). However, as the age level of the reader grows younger, the number of good books becomes scarcer. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is a recent book that has been in the news. However, when compared to the quality of non-Islamic books, such as Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, the cupboard looks almost bare.

The Bad

In my opinion, there are five major reasons for this state of affairs.

1. There are not enough Muslims in the Arts.

As anyone who is of South Asian origin knows, there’s really only two choices when it comes to a career – you are either a doctor or an engineer. For a long time those were the options, and only later did Computer Science, Business or Pharmacy become an option. Arts continued to be an afterthought. It’s not hard to see why – most of those in Arts, especially in the film making or media, would be involved in an industry whose Islamic permissibility was questionable at best. It is a far less stable field of employment, and success was not guaranteed. Much safer, as many reasoned, to be a doctor or an engineer.

2. Those Muslims in the Arts were not “Islamic” minded.

The Muslims who did venture into the Arts were often not interested in producing Islamic material; they were attracted to the industry as it was. Only recently has journalism, film making, writing, music, painting etc. attracted Muslim artists in droves, especially due to a vibrant Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian and Qatari film industry.

3. A lack of support within the Muslim community.

In addition to a lack of encouragement from Muslim parents in sending their children into Arts, there was also a noticeable lack of support from the community in supporting the work that was produced. I could remember good Islamic books being photocopied wholesale (and illegally) by mosques and schools for distribution to patrons. When questioned on why did they not purchase the book legally, the answer was always “Brother, this is fee sabilillah”. Similarly, when I produced my book, immediately there were those asked for a “free” copy, or a “friend’s discount”, leading me to write on why I would not do that[iv]. Similarly, lecture CDs were copied without any regard to the cost and effort needed to produce that work.If we Muslims wanted quality work, we have to be prepared to pay out of our pocketbooks for that. If we want a quality imam, we need to pay him a decent wage. If we need a mosque to provide services, we need to donate to the mosque. While this support is slowly trickling in, it’s still missing in the vast Muslim world in the East, where books, CDs, TV programs are all pirated with impunity.

4. Frowning on Arts by the Muslim scholarship.

Sheikh Yasir Qadhi has a lecture where he talks about the Omar series by MBC. The series faced a big controversy due to its portrayal of the four Rashidun Caliphs and other characters who some scholars believed should not be depicted. Despite the controversy, it was a huge hit with Muslims and even Sheikh Yasir Qadhi admitted watching the series boosted his imaan[v]. I felt the same way – our history and our religion has some fantastic stories that should be portrayed on the big screen, and in books, and in paint. Similar issues have plagued Muslim artists.Despite the fact that historically there has been depictions of even the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), with either his face veiled, or symbolically represented as a flame; historically many scholars have frowned upon visual representations of Prophets and other holy figures, or even of living beings such as humans and animals. While idolatry was a concern regarding images, it takes a huge stretch of imagination to think that a figure painted in a children’s book will cause him or her to start worshipping that painting. Similarly, any body of work that contained art that wasn’t calligraphy, or had music, faced opposition from the scholars. Yet the masses lapped up the Omar TV series, and no lecture by an esteemed scholar could bring our history to life like this series did. When scholars refused to support an artist’s work, it becomes harder to get the ordinary Muslim to purchase and patronize the work.

5. Lack of Professionals in the Field.

Given the fact that there are not enough Muslim professionals in the Arts, and the lack of a sizeable market to support their work, it stands to reasons that editors, writers, illustrators, musicians and others will only be part time in their work. This is not their main source of income and thus their standards can only go so high. Moreover, English is not the first language of many of such folk. This is why many of the English translations of famous works (such as The Sealed Nectar, translated from Ar Raheeq Al Maktum) contain numerous errors, both spelling and grammatical, that can turn off many a reader.

So What Can We Do About It?

The news is not all gloom and doom though. The situation is comparable to the Halal Food industry in the West. Few years ago, it was hard to find a decent halal establishment in major cities (such as Toronto, New York, Chicago) that provided good ambience, had great food and wasn’t the usual biryani/shawarma offerings. Yet, as the demographics shifted to younger, educated, well-off middle class Muslim families who were prepared to pay for a good halal food experience, the market responded. Today in Toronto there are halal steakhouses and restaurants serving a variety of cuisines such as Italian, Portuguese, German, Canadian in addition to the traditional South Asian and Arab fare. The market will follow the dollars and the demand, and one can see the same happening with Muslim children’s books.

Muslims are flooding the arts and media scene. Muslim comics (such as Maniac Muslim who started with humble web origins) are now common, and so are North American nasheed singers and word poets. MuslimFest, a Canadian exhibition that focuses solely on Muslim arts and entertainment, is one of the biggest festivals in North America, and the two day events draws more than 10,000 visitors daily. Meanwhile, more and more diverse books and non-traditional media are being published for Muslim kids, from Islamic themed colouring books to smartphone apps and games with a learning edge. It is not hard to foresee the quality of Islamic children’s books improving. What is needed, from both the public and the scholars, is to support their efforts.


[i] Read With Meaning,

[ii] Muslim Children’s Books: An Expose,

[iii] Khurram Murad, The Long Search,

[iv] 4 Reasons on Why I Do Not Give a Discount (or Give My Book Away for Free), Mezba Mahtab,

[v] Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, Looking Back as We Look Forward,




About the author: Mezbauddin Mahtab is an IT professional, photographer, blogger, and a devoted husband and father based in Toronto, Ontario. He is the author of Teaching Kids the Holy Quran – Chapter 18: The Cave, as well as Teaching Kids the Holy Quran – Chapter 71: Nuh, both of which tells stories from the Quran using LEGO© Bricks and toys. He maintains a personal blog on A Bengali in TO, and is currently planning his third book on Surah Yusuf.

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  1. Avatar


    August 3, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    thanks for this article. there`s a great adventure book series called Jannah Jewels full of mystery as well as good spiritual lessons for children, not to mention scenes and concepts from Islamic history.

    • Avatar


      August 5, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      Thank you for the resource. I am always collecting information about innovative Muslim literature, so this is a great addition.

  2. WAJiD


    August 3, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Salaam alaikum

    JazakAllah khairun for the article. I remember the Khurram Murad children’s books very well. I was in hospital for a week with pneumonia and was just 5 or 6 years old. They made the stories and lives of the sahaaba accessible to me – they made our history real. My body was aching but my mind never felt more healthy, more alive.

    And to think – these books were written by an elderly Pakistani Civil Engineer and Islamic thinker writing in his 2nd language.

    When I met him many years later, a few weeks before his death I forgot to thank him for writing them. I sill regret that to this day.

    May Allah reward all of you who try to help bring Islam into the life of our children.

  3. Avatar


    August 3, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    It’s really nice and new way to teach Islamic stories. Awesome!

  4. Avatar

    Stephen Isabirye

    August 3, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Speaking of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Five Find Outers, I am glad to inform you that I analytically discuss, via comparison and contrast, some key salient aspects found in all the three series in my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage ( Stephen Isabirye

  5. Avatar

    umm habiba

    August 4, 2014 at 1:51 AM

    Excellent article which brought out the issue at hand. I’m particularity impressed with your use of Lego to teach the Quran. How unique. I’m sure it’s a big hit with the kids.
    Yes we as a community need to support such ventures and pay the fair price it requires.
    May Allah ta’aala bless and reward all our visionaries out there.

    • Avatar


      August 5, 2014 at 1:35 AM

      Thank you for the comment. As more and more books come out, we will definitely get more and more top quality products that can compete in language, grammar ,design, editing etc. What is needed is for the community to support and purchase books that they like.

  6. Avatar

    umm habiba

    August 4, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Just saw your site and the books. Love it!! Masha Allah, May Allah increase u in talent!
    Jazaak Allah khair to Muslim matters for bringing it to our notice via this article.
    I for one am buying it and going to spread the word. in’sha Allah

  7. Avatar

    Omar S. Khawaja

    August 4, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    While the issues you raise in terms of the quality of Islamic books for children are valid, they are mostly relevant when discussing the topic from a historical perspective. In today’s market, both the quality and availability of such books have improved greatly as a result of increased consumer demand. This is particularly true in terms of books for young kids (i.e. 3 – 8). And as this young demographic matures in a few years, it is likely that the quality of books for adolescents will improve as well. In that sense, this article would have been better served if it was titled, “The changing face of Islamic books for kids” where it juxtaposed the problems of the past with today’s improving landscape while highlighting a few of the notable authors leading the charge (examples follow).
    Omar S. Khawaja – Ilyas & Duck Search for Allah (
    Alexis York Lumbard – Conference of the Birds
    Hena Khan – Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns
    Hajera Memon – The Story of the Elephant: Surah Al-Fil

    • Avatar


      August 5, 2014 at 1:38 AM

      Salaams. I will have to respectfully disagree with your comment. While my own books are geared towards slightly older kids (ages 8 and up), I have looked into the market for kids from 3-8, and the offerings are very sparse. A few good books here and there do not mean the problem is gone. For example, despite the huge number of books that purport to teach Arabic, we still do not have an equivalent of Dr Seuss for Muslims. Despite the huge number of nasheeds that come out, none has attained the popularity of the common Christmas jingles, and so on.

  8. Avatar


    August 6, 2014 at 7:52 PM


    Jazakallah khair for the article!

    I am sure that the Omar series is a great piece of work and the producers must have put a lot of effort into it, I would still strongly discourage drawing of the Prophets and the sahabas because of the idol worshipping issue (we can have a separate article on that, I will not discuss it over here). But I definitely don’t see why we can’t have everyday fictional characters tell the same stories. There are many ways of telling the stories without showing the Prophets and the sahabas. There is obviously no lack of talent and creativity among the Muslims.

    Another thing I would like to add is that there is a lack of marketing for these books, which shouldn’t be a problem in the time of social media. Most people may not even know that such options exist. Plus, most of the books are not available in the public library, I am not sure why (Can you please explain, since you are an author).

    I’ll also have to agree with Omar S. Khawaja. I’ve seen book shelves of little kids filled with Islamic books, they may not exactly be Dr. Suess material, but the options still exists. But as you get older you don’t find that many options. The only good book I remember reading was the Invincible Abdullah series by Uthman Hutchinson.

    But of course, InshaAllah it will only get better with time as more options are available and the competition increases.

  9. Avatar


    September 15, 2015 at 1:39 AM

    Assalamu alaikum

  10. Pingback: Comment on Exploring the Problems in Producing a Good Islamic Children’s Book by mutarjim | Souqhub | Blog

  11. Avatar


    September 15, 2015 at 1:50 AM

    Islam is the teaching of the holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi was sallam. And that includes prohibition of the pictures of living beings.
    Your hard-work will do more harm than good if you take the haraam route to promote Islam. As Muslims, we have got prayers, Quran recitations, and lectures. Art, movies and fictional works are the atheists’ alternatives to the same. Naturally, the atheists are better in art, just as Muslims are better in Quran memorization and recitation.
    Our prophet and the great caliphs are far greater, far more sublime than Harry Potter and his ilk. By caricaturing this sublime benefactors of humanity, you are insulting them. As for depiction of holy Prophet, it is far far worse than depicting Elizabeth of Buckingham without clothes.

  12. Avatar


    September 15, 2015 at 2:12 AM

    As for Yasir Qazi’s approval, it does less to support caricaturing of our holy pioneers than to take away his own credibility. Muslims will follow the Prophet’s teachings, not the teachings of yasir qazi or Ali jumuah when they go against the Quran and the Sunnah. Approval of YouTube and Taghuts does not count.

    Muslims in general have never supported making pictures of human beings. You people just delve into the history to search for the sins of the faasiqs and faajirs and present that as Islam. If any sinner in Islamic history has ever made a picture, that is enough to prove that all scholars are wrong, Imam Abu Hanifah and Bukhari (alaihimaa arrahmah) are wrong. Is that what you mean to say: the classic orientalist line?

    Why not follow the well-respected and certified specialists like Mufti Taqi Usmani (May he live long!). After all in matters of man-made laws, you do not argue your case by quoting the interpretations of convicted criminals in the entire history of the country’s law. You always prefer the opinions of judges and accomplished lawyers.

    You complain that Muslims are not spending enough to support these dubious artists, so they can’t produce quality literature. The same problem stares the Ulamaa too, yet most of them have shunned money and delights of this world and produced living repositories of knowledge like Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri and prolific researchers like Mufti Taqi Usmani. Yes and they have been doing it full time at salaries of 6000 INR a month.

  13. Avatar


    October 20, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    Masha Allah,enlighting article

  14. Avatar


    March 25, 2016 at 10:23 AM

    There are some great Hardy Boys-style Muslim adventure books — the Ahmad Deen books (Yahiya Emerick), The Invincible Abdullah series(Uthman Hutchinson), and the Rashid books (Rashid and the Missing Body / Rashid and the Haupmann Diamond by Hassan Radwan) – well-written, exciting, and with good role models. I hope more like those come out!

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Trump And The Holy Gobble: A Tongue In Cheek Short Story

When Donald Trump tries to impress a secretary and is exposed to aloo gobi and black pepper, what follows could mean the end of the world.

Aloo Gobi

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories. This story is satire, i.e. humor. You’ve been warned!

That’s Why They Love Me



With Secret Service agents guarding his flanks, Donald Trump exited the White House and headed across the street to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which housed the majority of the White House staff offices.

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“Mr. President,” the Special Agent In Charge protested. “I wish you would eat in your private dining room, or at least in the Navy Mess. It’s safer than the EEOB break room, of all places.”

Trump gave the man a condescending smirk. “You don’t understand what it takes to be a great president. I have to let my workers know that I care about them, bigly. I’m the best at that. No one has ever been better than me at being good to their workers. That’s why they love me.”

The SAIC rolled his eyes. He knew the real reason for the president’s desire to hang out in the EEOB break room. One of the new EEOB secretaries, a petite Russian immigrant blonde named Natasha Petrova, was a former “actress” known to her fans as Natasha Lipps. It wouldn’t be long, the SAIC expected, before Ms. Lipps – err, Petrova – would be made a presidential advisor, which would naturally require personal briefings with the president.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, strode beside him. Trump was fed up with the man, who kept trying to talk to him about the need to cover up his affair with Stormy Daniels.

“Can’t we just get the Russians to eliminate her?” Trump demanded.

The Nuclear Football

“Well, heh heh,” Cohen stammered. “That’s not really-”

Trump waved him off. Maybe it was time to fire the dopey dummy, if he couldn’t get things done. As they entered the EEOB, Trump turned to his aide-de-camp, a tall and muscular man wearing a medal-festooned military uniform and a beret. The man carried the nuclear football, and was always at the president’s side.

“Give me the football.”

The nuclear football

The nuclear football

The aide hesitated. The football, a Halliburton Zero aircraft-aluminum briefcase with a protruding antennae, the whole thing further housed within a thick leather satchel, contained a device that the president could use to launch nuclear missiles from any location. It was quite heavy. Besides, the aide knew that Trump only wanted to show it off to Natasha Lipps – err, Ms. Petrova.

Trump snapped his fingers. “Give it, loser.”

The aide handed it over, watching with satisfaction as the president listed to one side, nearly falling over.

In the break room, Trump, out of breath from the exertion of carrying the football, beamed with satisfaction. He’d timed it perfectly. Lipps was making herself a coffee. He admired her figure, resisting the impulse to grab part of her anatomy.

A few other employees sat at the cafeteria-style tables, eating sandwiches and chatting. A brown-skinned young man stood beside a humming microwave oven. They were losers, all of them. They weren’t the president. He was! They didn’t have people all over the world reading their Tweets. He did! Something smelled good, though. He looked around, trying to identify the source of the delicious smell, when the staffers noticed his presence. They all jumped to their feet, and one man saluted. Mental note: promote that guy to presidential advisor.

Natasha Lipps gave him a wide smile. Trump leaned forward even more than he normally did, all his attention focused on the Russian woman.

“Look what I have,” he boasted, grunting as he hefted the case. “The nuclear football.”

“You are such a poverful man,” Lipps purred in her Russian accent.

Cherokee People

“Something smells good in here.” He gave her a wink. “Is that you?”

“I vish it vas, Mr. President. Is Ahmad over there.” She nodded to the brown-skinned man. “He alvays bring delicious food.”

Trump frowned at the man, who had just taken a meal out of the microwave. Ahmad? Wasn’t that a Muslim name? He turned to Cohen. “Do we still have any Muslims on staff? I thought we fired them all.”

“I don’t know, sir. The White House has thousands of staffers.”

“Arrest him. But bring me his lunch. It smells really good.”

“I don’t know if that’s strictly legal, sir, there are laws-”

Trump silenced him with a chopping motion. “Hey, you. Ahmad.”

The brown-skinned man froze. “Yes, Mr. President?”

“You’re not Muslim, are you?”

Ahmad’s eyes shifted left and right. “I’m from California.” Which was technically true.

Trump made a face. “Just as bad.”

“I believe he is Indian,” Petrova whispered.

Oh, that was fine then. Trump had been dealing with Indian-owned casinos in Atlantic City for decades. “Cherokee people,” he sang out loud, “Cherokee trii-iibe. Hey chief, what are you eating?”

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

“Aloo gobi, sir.”

Holy gobble? What the heck kind of a dumb name? Getting back to more important matters, he set the football on one of the tables, touched his thumb to the biometric scanner, and popped the case open.

Inside, a special laptop computer was custom-fit into the case. The upper panel came on automatically, displaying a map of the world, with all the major cities marked with glowing dots. The lower panel contained a keyboard and a large red button, along with two smaller buttons, one labelled YES and one NO.

Allergic to Pepper

Trump grinned at Natasha Lipps. “Guess what this does? I could destroy the planet from right here if I wanted to. Pretty hot, huh?”

“Is vonderful.”

“Mr. President, sir!” the aide-de-camp protested. “This is highly irregu-”

Trump sneezed into Natasha’s face. It was a wet, jet-propelled sneeze. Her smile flickered for an instant, then returned as bright as ever as she wiped his spittle away. Trump scanned the room. The dark-skinned Indian guy had a hand-held pepper mill and was grinding pepper onto the holy gobble.

“Stop that, you moron!” Trump snapped. “I’m allergic to pepper.”

The man gazed at him pleadingly, and gave the crank a slow-motion turn. “But I like a lot of pepper on my food, sir.”

Trump let out a tremendous sneeze, one that shook him all the way down to his spinal cord. This time he felt himself losing balance, and reached out a hand, which landed right on the nuclear football’s red button. A loud beeping noise sounded, and lights flashed on the screen, along with the glowing words:


Trump prided himself on being a positive person. No one had ever been more positive than him in all the history of the world. He didn’t believe in the word NO. He pressed the button for YES.

Arrest That Man

Everyone stared in horror, except for Ahmad, who used the distraction to give the pepper grinder three fast turns. Then he sat, said a quick dua’ and rapidly began to eat his aloo gobi.

“Dear Heaven,” the aide-de-camp breathed. “The Russians will retaliate. We’ll all be destroyed.”

Trump smirked. “You think I would point missiles at Russia? They’re pointed at Mexico and China. Immigration problem solved, plus we win the trade war! Am I the smartest or what?”

The aide-de-camp studied the laptop screen. “One of the missiles is off target. It’s headed for California.”

Trump nodded smugly. “I always keep one aimed at San Francisco.” Grinning widely, he crooned, “Goodbye, Pelosi!”

The SAIC tapped his earpiece. “We’re getting word. The Chinese have launched a retaliatory strike. We’ll be hit in fifteen minutes. We need to get you to the bunker!”

Ahmad took out a portable prayer rug, set it down and began to pray. “Alhamdulillahi rabbil aalameen,” he intoned. One last salat before the end of the world. He would meet his end with dignity.

“I knew it!” Trump pointed. “Arrest that man. For being Muslim, and for eating holy gobble.”

Cohen sighed, and Natasha Lipps – err, Petrova – began to cry.


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 and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at

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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Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas | Book Review

In the second decade of the 21st century in America, Muslims consider themselves “as American as apple pie,” don American-flag hijabs, and consider their presence and participation in American politics as a crowning achievement. There is little to no resemblance between the majority of the American Muslim population today, and the very first Muslims who landed in America – not as privileged individuals, but as enslaved people at the hands of vicious white colonizers who had already decimated the Indigenous population and who had no qualms about destroying the lives of their slaves. Dr Sylviane A. Diouf’s book “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” tracks the journeys and experiences of African Muslims who found themselves shipped aboard slave-trafficking vessels and taken to the other side of their known world. From their induction into the Transatlantic slave trade, to their determination to uphold the five pillars of Islam – regardless of their circumstances – to the structure of the enslaved Muslim community, their prized (and dangerous) literacy, and their never-ending resistance against slavery, Diouf illustrates in incredible detail the powerful and painful experiences of enslaved African Muslims, and the legacy that they left behind in the Americas.

This review of “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” will focus on the unique qualities and formidable faith of the very first Muslims in the Americas, and the legacy that they left for Muslims in the Americas today.

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In Chapter One, Diouf begins by answering the very first question that arises when considering the path of enslaved African Muslims: how did they end up enslaved in the first place? Slavery already existed as an institution in Africa, though vastly different from the horrifying standards of the European slavers. Between the existing slave trade, military conflicts that created prisoners-of-wars who were then sold as slaves, and the European propensity for kidnapping innocent people, many Muslims found themselves swept into the Transatlantic slave trade. These same Muslims were the ones who provided us with much of the knowledge that we have today regarding the American slave experience. Most African Muslims were literate, due to the religious and cultural importance of education; of those enslaved, many were religious scholars or students of knowledge. They described how they were captured, the torturous journey of the slave caravans across the continent, and the even more horrific experience of the slave ships themselves. These men also documented their lives as slaves, and indirectly, provided deep insight into their own inner nature. 

Despite the intense pressure and demands on African enslaved people to renounce their ‘heathen faith’ and be inducted as Christians, African Muslims demonstrated a commitment to Islam that should cause modern Muslims today to feel deeply ashamed in comparison. The very first words that Job ben Solomon (Ayuba Suleyman Diallo) uttered, after running away and then being discovered in Pennsylvania, were the shahaadah; Omar ibn Sa’id wrote numerous Arabic manuscripts, in which the shahaadah was always found (Diouf, 2013, p. 72-73). When Catholic priests tried hard to educate slaves about Christianity as part of the conversion process, the African Muslims were both resistant and unimpressed; they were already familiar with many Biblical stories, thanks to their Qur’anic education. Of those who seemed to have accepted Christianity, many did so only outwardly, while confirming their belief in Allah and His Messenger in every aspect of their lives. Indeed, in Brazil and other areas where there were large concentrations of Muslim slaves, the Muslims established underground madaaris to maintain and pass on their Islamic knowledge and education. Muhammad Kaba Saghanughu was a man whom the missionaries had thought was successfully converted when he provided all the right answers to their pre-baptismal questions – eleven years later, in a Baptist Missionary Society notebook, he wrote a 50-page fiqh manual in Arabic that encompassed the rulings of salaah, marriage, and other topics. 

Slavery did not stop the African Muslims from maintaining their salaah in whatever manner they could manage, considering their circumstances. Some did so in secret, while others insisted on upholding their salaah in public, to the extent that these incidents were recorded by the descendants of slaves and slaveholders alike. In Brazil, the African Muslim community – both enslaved and freed – held together so strongly that they were able to secretly establish Salatul Jumu’ah and attend gatherings of dhikr, even in the face of intense scrutiny (Diouf, 2013, p. 88-89). 

Perhaps one of the most greatly moving examples of enslaved African Muslims’ dedication to their Islam was that even in the midst of the utter poverty of slavery, they found a way to uphold zakaah, sawm, and Hajj. In Brazil, it was recorded that the Muslims would end Ramadan with the exchanging of gifts, no matter how simple they were; in truth, these gifts were zakaatul fitr and zakaatul maal.

In other areas, the descendants of Muslim slaves recalled that their parents and grandparents would make rice cakes called saraka at least once a year – saraka was a corruption of the Arabic word sadaqah, and the rice cakes were a Jumu’ah tradition in West Africa. (Diouf, 2013, p. 92-94) In Ramadan, many Muslims sought to fast; indeed, despite the incredible hardship and lack of nutritious food that the slaves already endured, there were those who fasted voluntarily outside of Ramadan as well, often by pretending to be ill. They knew that their situation meant that fasting – in Ramadan and outside of it – was not obligatory on them, and yet, to them, no circumstance was bad enough to warrant not even attempting to observe Ramadan. Hajj was another pillar of Islam that was both impossible and no longer obligatory on the enslaved Muslims; yet in Brazil, in a house that was used as a masjid, there were illustrated depictions of the Ka’bah – demonstrating the emotional bond that the African Muslims had with the Sacred House. 

Throughout Diouf’s book, the overwhelming theme that arises is the fierce commitment that enslaved African Muslims had to Islam. It was not superficial, shallow, or easily shrugged away in the face of difficulty. Instead, the African Muslims held onto their belief in Allah and their daily, lived practise of Islam, even when they had every excuse to relax their obligations. They upheld their Islamic and cultural dress code, not just at its minimum standard of modesty, but in a way that clearly demonstrated their religious identity (Diouf, 2013, p. 101-110). They found ways to make prayer mats and dhikr beads; they gave their children Muslim names in secret, when they were expected to present themselves as Christians; they even strove to observe whatever they could of the Islamic dietary code, by refusing to drink alcohol or eat pork – Ayuba Diallo went so far as to only eat dhabiha meat that he himself slaughtered (Diouf, 2013, p. 119-122). The enslaved African Muslims valued their Islamic identity above all. Even in slavery, they knew that their ‘izzah came from their Deen – and so did those around them, who noted their unique bearing in the face of the horrors of slavery. 

The story of the African Muslims who were enslaved and brought to the Americas is not merely a history lesson, or a token homage in honour of Black History Month. It is a story that echoes the persecution of the earliest Muslims in Makkah, and applicable to Muslims today. Muslim minorities in the West are often all too eager to complain of our difficulties and to seek religious exemptions for our minor inconveniences. Yet who are we in comparison to the earliest African-American Muslims, who endurable the unspeakable? Who are we, with our privileges, with our very freedom, in comparison to those Muslims who were stripped of everything and everyone they knew and loved, and who still held ever tighter to the Rope of Allah? One may say that it is unfair to compare us and them; that to recognize their struggles should not mean invalidating the challenges we face today. Certainly, we face numerous different fitan that are very different from what they experienced, but the truth is that we should compare our attitudes with those of our predecessors. We should be ashamed of our own weaknesses in times of privilege compared to their strength in times of oppression. More importantly, we must learn from them what it means to have such a relationship with our Creator and our Deen that we are capable of surviving and thriving in even the worst of circumstances. 

May Allah have mercy on the enslaved African Muslims who endured one of this Ummah’s historic tragedies, and may He make us of those who demonstrate their strength of love for Him through every tragedy of our own.

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Searching for Signs of Spring: A Short Story

At the party she stood near the front door, as if she might attempt escape. No one talked to her, though she saw plenty of glances cast her way. At least the food was good.

Golden Gate Bridge at night

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

The Smoker

Cigarette butt

“I’m going to kill her,” the man in the back seat growled. A moment earlier his phone had beeped, indicating a text message.

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Randa ignored him. She could already smell him – he reeked of cigarette smoke and Drakkar, a syrupy yet rancid combination, like a rotting fruit – and didn’t care to expend the energy to turn her head.

Exhausted from a nine hour shift slinging overloaded plates of food to hordes of Japanese and German tourists, she sat in the front seat of the UberPOOL car, staring out the window at the passing nightlife of San Francisco. Taxis and buses jostling for space, restaurants with lines down the block. Cable cars, street cars, tourists with their expensive cameras like baby candy for Tenderloin junkie thieves. Chinese women heading home from SOMA sweatshops, elbowing their way onto packed buses. Local hipsters, bike messengers and pimply faced tech millionaires. They were all jammed into this city on seven hills, mesmerized by the lights and endless cash, or imprisoned by them. Free to go where they would; free to ruin themselves.

She reached into the shopping bag between her knees and fingered the silk scarf she’d purchased. She’d spent half her weekly paycheck on it. A gift for Nawal. SubhanAllah, its exquisite softness was unreal. What she would have given during the last three years to feel something so yielding. She released the scarf and settled back into the seat. Quick stop at the halfway house to shower and change, then on to Nawal’s party. She could do this. After all she’d been through, why should a party make her nervous?

“Bitches lie,” the smoker went on. “That’s all women do, they lie. I’m going to kill the sl*t.”

“Sir,” the driver said, glancing in the rear view mirror. He was a tiny man with a thick moustache and a flat cap. His name was Ali, according to the Uber app. European looking, maybe Kurdish, maybe Arab. “Calm down or I will put you out.”

“Screw you,” Smoker said. “I paid for this ride, I’m not going any-”

Ali swerved to the curb and hit the brakes, screeching to a stop beside Union Square. “Out.”

It was almost Christmastime, and the square was packed. Randa saw people ice skating on the little rink they set up every December. The compressor that cooled the ice was very loud. Tourists were crowded into the Starbucks beside the rink. On every side of the square, monuments to consumerism rose. Macy’s, the Westin St. Francis, Nike, Apple, Louis Vuitton, Bul93gari, Tiffany & Co… Idols of wealth and third world labor. After spending three years owning nothing but a few sets of clothing and a few books, this was all foreign. As if some great beast had eaten every valuable thing in the world and regurgitated it in one place. She wasn’t quite sure if she wanted it all, or was revolted by it all.

“Drive the damn car,” Smoker said.

Randa had had enough. She turned and scanned the back seat. Directly behind her, a teenaged blonde girl in denim looked very uncomfortable – almost frightened but not quite there. Randa focused on the smoker. He was brown skinned and barrel chested, with thinning black hair. Middle Eastern. He looked familiar, actually. His eyes were bloodshot. It was like a set up for a joke: three Arabs and a white girl get into an Uber… Except there was nothing funny about this guy. He was big and looked quite capable of violence.

Randa, on the other hand, was physically unimposing. Short, skinny, long black hair tied in a ponytail, she was a typical Yemeni girl, as light as one of the reeds that grew in the Aden wetlands, where her parents had grown up. That didn’t matter. Anyone could hurt anyone, she knew this. Her eyes were lasers drilling into the smoker. Her jaw was a steel trap. Liquid nitrogen flowed through her veins. If this guy wanted to mix it up, she would tear him to pieces.

The man’s eyes met hers, he opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it. He exited the car, slamming the door.

The driver smiled at Randa. He looked very relieved. “MashaAllah alayki,” he praised her in Arabic. “I don’t know what you did, but thanks. Maybe you should be a rideshare driver.”

Randa did not reply.

The Threat

Prison visitors window

She checked into the halfway house on Turk Street with ten minutes to spare before her work period expired. The staff member on duty was her own case manager, a thin, bald man with a pasty complexion and a scar on his lip.

“I’ll need a recreation block later,” Randa told him. “Starting at seven.”

The man smirked. “Hot date?”

Randa gazed at him impassively, her face as ungiving as a concrete wall.

“I need to know where you’re going,” the case manager said, annoyed.

“Bachelorette party.”

“Better not be any drugs there.”

“Muslim party. No drugs, no alcohol, no men. Just women dancing and eating.”

“You only have one rec block left this month.” He nodded toward the door that led to his private office. “Come back here, we’ll have a little fun, I’ll give you five more blocks. You’ll have a good time.” He punctuated this assurance with a wink.

“Eat poison and die.”

The man flinched as if he’d been slapped, then snarled. “Take your block. But if you’re one minute late I will write a violation on you faster than you can say, ‘Allah help me.’”

Up in her tiny second floor room with the two-woman bunk bed, changing out of her waitressing uniform, she considered not going. She hadn’t been to a social event since her release. She knew they’d all be talking about her.

While locked up she’d earned a correspondence bachelor’s degree in business administration. She was still trying to figure out what to do with it. Education wise she’d already surpassed 90% of the Yemeni community. But that didn’t matter. To them she was a shame and a wreck, a disgrace to her family.

And she wasn’t sure it was safe. What if her brother Motaz showed up? Did he still have it in for her? She had not seen him since her arrest, when he came to see her in the county jail. They sat across from each other in small cubbies, separated by thick plexiglass into which someone had scratched the words, “LOVE YOU FOREVER.”

Leaning forward to talk through a perforated panel, she explained that she hadn’t known there were drugs in the backpack. Her boyfriend had told her it was a game console he’d sold, and asked her to deliver it on her way to school. She’d been in love with Lucas, and never imagined he would manipulate her that way.

Her brother’s cheeks were purple with rage. “I don’t care about the drugs,” he seethed. “That only proves how stupid you are. You had a boyfriend. An American.” He struck the plexiglass and Randa reeled, nearly falling over in her seat. “If we were back in Yemen,” her brother went on, “I would kill you myself. It would be best for the family if you hang yourself from your bunk.”

She didn’t try to tell him that she’d never been intimate with Lucas and that she was, in fact, still a virgin. It wouldn’t make any difference, she knew that. It was public perception that mattered, and the shame it would bring. And she wasn’t saying her brother was totally wrong on that score. She hadn’t represented herself or her faith well. But that didn’t give him the right to threaten her.

She had not spoken to her brother since that day. She had no idea what his intentions for her might be. But she didn’t intend to give him the chance to make good on his threats.

The Phone Call

The phone rang. It was her mom, reading her mind. Randa told her she was going to skip the party.

Her mom clucked her tongue. “Nawal is your friend. She’s getting married, she wants you to celebrate with her.”

“She didn’t invite me.”

“She invited me. That means you as well.”

“What if Motaz shows up?”

“Why would he? It is a ladies party. And if he did, so what?”

“You know what. He threatened to kill me.”

“Ah, Randa! Astaghfirullah. That was in the past. All is forgiven. Anyway he never meant it. It was only his anger talking.”

Randa was not sure. Islam taught compassion and mercy, but in her native Yemen, feuds could carry on for generations. People did not forget. She voiced another of her fears: “They’ll all be judging me. The ladies.”

“Eh?” Her mother sounded genuinely perplexed. “Why should they?”

“Because I just spent the last three years-”

“No,” her mother interrupted. “We don’t speak about that. It never happened.”

“I don’t know how to talk to those people.”

“Those people?” Her mother sounded outraged. “They are your people, Randa!”

Randa sighed and shook her head. She could fight off people trying to kill her, and had done so, but she was powerless against her mother. Why was that, still?

Her mom switched to Arabic. “Give your tribe your money and blood, but give outsiders the point of a sword.”

Her mom and her proverbs. And she never used them right. “That doesn’t even fit.”

“It means do not justify yourself. The past is the past.”

“I don’t think it means that.”

“And wear something colorful. No more black like you’re going to a funeral.”


All she had was black. What else? After three years of state-issued denim, she’d sworn she’d never wear any shade of blue again. What, then? Orange was jail jumpsuits. Red, pink, yellow, purple? What was she, a clown? Or white, like a nun, a nurse, or a virgin bride? She would laugh at that if she remembered how.

San Francisco Islamic Society Mosque

She donned a long black skirt over black stockings, walking shoes, a long-sleeved blouse and a black sweater, and set out on foot. Her first stop was the Islamic Society masjid on Jones at Market. In the elevator she took a light black abayah from her purse and draped it over herself, covering everything but her face and hands. The masjid was on the third floor, a wide open space in which Randa could forget her problems for a time. She had rediscovered her faith in prison, and sometimes it was the only thing that kept her going.

She knew that was a cliche, but it was true. When every door was made of solid steel, double locked and remote controlled – Allah’s door was open. When every road was not only blocked but taken away altogether, because you were sealed in a tiny room – the road to Allah was still there. When there were no windows, and the light bulbs were turned off so that you sat in utter darkness, Allah’s light was still there.

She smiled imperceptibly, remembering the first of Ruby’s rules. Ruby, her cellmate and mentor, had developed a set of rules to survive and thrive in prison. Rule number one: only God can get you out.

Well here, she was, out, and just in time for ‘ishaa. A handful of other women were in attendance and she prayed beside them. As the Imam recited Surat Ar-Rahman, Randa searched her own heart for some sign of spring. A bit of softness, a warm breeze stirring, a melting of the ice. She found little to give her hope. Too soon, she thought. Her great fear was that her past self, the Randa who cried at the recital of the Quran, hung out with friends and gossiped or laughed about boys, or just walked down the street with a bounce in her step, happy to be alive, was gone.

The Party

Yemeni food mutabaq sandwich


She took another Uber to Nawal’s house, out in the Richmond district, near the ocean. At the party she stood against the wall near the front door, as if she might attempt escape. No one talked to her, though she saw plenty of glances cast her way. She drank guava juice from a small glass and ate a mutabaq. At least the food was good. She hadn’t eaten anything so delicious in years.

Her mom had hugged her when she arrived, chastised her for her grim sartorial choices, then wandered off to sit and gossip with her friends.

There were at least forty women present. The younger ones danced to the sounds of A-Wa, with the occasional Ahmed Fathi song thrown in to appease the aunties. Others sat at a table around a henna artist, taking turns getting their hands and arms tattooed. A woman in an orange scarf sat on a sofa crying, while two other women flanked her, comforting her.

Nawal sauntered over to Randa and embraced her. She looked radiant in a sequined blue gown, her long black hair flowing freely, her arms hennaed up to the elbows with intricate designs. “Thanks again for the scarf. It’s lovely. You didn’t have to do that.”

“My pleasure.” Randa nodded to the crying woman. “What’s going on there?”

Nawal looked. “Oh. That’s my Tant Ruqayyah. Her husband’s been cheating on her. But she’s finally done with him. She sent him a message today, asking for a divorce. Hey.” Nawal grinned at Randa. “What’s up with the black outfit? You planning a burglary later?”

Randa bristled, pulling back. “What do you mean?”

Nawal faltered. “No. Nothing. Just a joke, Randa. What happened to you? You lost your sense of humor.” Nawal squeezed Randa’s shoulder and turned away to rejoin her friends.

Randa wanted to shrink into a corner of the room and draw the darkness around her like a cloak. Nawal’s comment stung like chili in a cut, all the more for its truth. She knew she wasn’t the fun person she’d once been. She wasn’t someone people wanted to be around. She wasn’t someone people loved.

A commotion from the direction of the entrance made her turn. The door was just around the corner and she couldn’t see what was happening. She heard a man shouting, and a woman protesting. For a second she had the irrational thought that it was her brother, come to murder her as he’d threatened to do three years ago. Then she smelled it. The stench of cigarette smoke and Drakkar. It was the man from the Uber. Suddenly she knew why the man had seemed familiar. She’d seen him with his wife at parties in the past. His name was Momo, she remembered now, and he was Ruqayyah’s husband. She remembered the text message Momo had received in the car, and his saying, “I’ll kill her.”

A woman shrieked from the doorway and the man pushed his way in. He passed by Randa, not noticing her. Her eyes shot to the man’s hands, just as Ruby had taught her. Rule thirty: watch people’s hands, not their faces.

Momo held a long butcher knife tucked low against the back of his leg. No one else in the room seemed to have noticed it. The other women were too busy scrambling to put their scarves on, now that there was a man in the room. Some were retreating quickly, heading for the bedrooms. Some of the younger ones were still dancing, oblivious. Meanwhile, Momo was making a beeline for Ruqayyah.

Ruqayyah had spotted the knife. Her eyes were locked on it as she backed up, her hands held to her mouth in horror, her face pale as the moon.

Randa moved. Dropping her plate and glass, she walked rapidly toward the food table, slipping off her sweater as she did so. Rule thirty two: anything can be a weapon. Without breaking stride she snatched up the pepper shaker and pocketed it, then grabbed two unopened soda cans. She wrapped the cans with her sweater and twisted it, gripping it by the sleeves.

Momo had almost reached Ruqayyah. He brought the knife up, aiming it at her heart. Ruqayyah stepped back, stumbled into a chair leg, and fell to the ground. It probably saved her life.

Randa was only a few feet behind Momo now. He still had not seen her. Rule thirty five: hit first and hit hard. She gripped the sweater sleeves with both hands and swung, turning her hips, putting everything she had into it. All her frustration, fury and shame, her loneliness and self doubt. The soda cans in the sweater connected with the side of Momo’s head. There was a loud thudding sound, and Momo dropped as if a djinn had snatched his heart out of his chest. His hand opened and the knife clattered to the ground beside him. Some of the women screamed, and someone finally turned off the music.

Still clutching the sweater in one hand, Randa reached down and took Ruqayyah’s hand, helping the older woman to her feet, and helping her adjust her scarf, which had slid forward over her eyes. The auntie was stunned speechless.

Momo groaned. Randa turned to see him reach for the knife, find it, and begin to climb back to his feet. Damn. Hard-headed bastard. Reaching into her pocket, she calmly unscrewed the pepper shaker and flung the contents into Momo’s eyes. He hollered in pain and dropped the knife once more, and this time Randa kicked it away so that it skittered under the table. Once again she gripped the sweater sleeves with both hands and swung. The cans smashed Momo square in the face. He fell backwards with a cry, blood spurting from his nose. He rolled about on the floor, clutching his face, all the fight gone out of him.

Someone seized Randa’s arm and she turned to see her mother. The woman was literally quaking with rage. “Get out of here,” she hissed. “You crazy person. Why did I think you changed? You are a majnoonah.”

Nawal was there too, her face set in stone. “You should leave,” she said. “I won’t tell the police what you did, but you should go.”

Randa didn’t argue. What did it matter? These women had their minds made up about her, as did her mother. Fine. She turned to leave. Again someone gripped her arm, but this time it was Tant Ruqayyah. The auntie pulled Randa into an embrace, then kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said, her lower lip trembling. “You saved my life, habibti. May Allah give you life. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

Nawal frowned. “What are you saying, Tant? Randa, what does she mean?”

Randa looked at her former friend. “He came here to kill her. He had a knife.” She gestured with her chin to the table. “It’s under there.”

“To kill her?” her mother said. “What nonsense is this?”

Randa smoothed Ruqayyah’s orange scarf. “Don’t worry, Tant. You’ll be fine.” She turned away, replacing the pepper shaker and dented soda cans on the table on her way out. One of the cans had punctured and was spraying soda in a fine stream. She put her sweater on and found it wet.

At the doorway, a woman was rising from where Momo had pushed her over on his way in. Thank God he hadn’t stabbed her.


Her mother called out to her, but she let herself out. The night breeze instantly penetrated her wet sweater and raised goosebumps on her skin. Her hands were shaking badly, so she thrust them into her pockets, violating one of Ruby’s rules. In fact her entire body shook. She told herself it was just the cold.

Nawal emerged from the house and called to her, then hurried to catch up. Her friend was flustered, her cheeks red. “I’m sorry,” she said, taking Randa’s hand. “I misunderstood. You… You are a hero.”

Golden Gate Bridge at night

Randa looked away. In the distance she could see the Golden Gate Bridge glowing red in the night, and the dark hills of Marin County silhouetted against the sky. Bridges took you from one reality to another then back again, but what if you never wanted to go back? What if you wanted to put the past behind you forever? Was there such a thing as a one way bridge?

They said she was a villain, then a hero. Which label applied? Ex-con? Disgrace? Waitress? Yemeni, American, daughter, friend?

She returned her gaze to Nawal’s face. “No,” she said. “I’m not.”

She turned away. A light drizzle began to fall, chilling her, but somehow she’d stopped shivering. She was miles from the halfway house, but there was plenty of time left on her rec block. She would walk. The city stretched out before her like a jeweled wedding veil, the wet sidewalks shining beneath the street lamps. Appreciate the moment. Another of Ruby’s rules.

Randa walked.


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

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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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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