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Hassan’s Tale, Part 16 – Guns and Hazelnuts

I was stunned. These assorted treasures must be worth a small fortune. Where had they come from? Were they my father’s share of the Haddad family fortune?

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See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

I began pulling treasures from the safe one by one. There was an envelope that contained loose diamonds – large ones that sparkled brilliantly even in the low light of the cottage. A leather case contained plastic sleeves that held gold coins, including South African Krugerrands, Swiss Francs and Canadian Maple Leaf coins – all pure gold. A separate box contained actual gold ingots in fifty gram weights.

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A small cardboard box contained five carved figurines cushioned by foam pellets. Each was about the height of my hand. They were made either from ivory or bone – I couldn’t tell which – and depicted various historical figures that might have been Maronite saints. The only one I recognized was Saint Maron himself. I examined the Saint Maron figurine. On the bottom, in tiny Arabic script, were the words, “Khaleel Haddad. 1502.” It dawned on me that I was looking at an artwork created by one of my own ancestors over six hundred years ago.

I was stunned. These assorted treasures must be worth a small fortune. Where had they come from? Were they my father’s share of the Haddad family fortune? Had he already been wealthy when he left Lebanon? But then why did he live so simply, running a gas station while mom sold purses through the mail? Was he in hiding? Or hiding his assets from the government?

I shook my head, having no answers to these questions.

Aside from the treasures, there were four more things in the safe: a photo album, an envelope containing documents, a blue canvas-bound journal, and at the very bottom, a battered black briefcase with a combination lock. I tried the latches on the briefcase, but it was locked. Great. Yet another combination to figure out.

I examined the photo album. It contained exactly what I had hoped for: family photos of me, Charlie, our parents, and some of our relatives in Lebanon. Gold and diamonds were fine, but this was the true treasure.

There were photos of me and Charlie playing, including one of me, dripping wet, and chasing Charlie in the backyard. I stared at it for a second, then I remembered and smiled. I’d been practicing forms in the backyard when Charlie had sneaked up behind me and dumped a bucket of ice water on my head.

There were photos of my school graduations and belt promotions, and Charlie’s as well; all of us at Swensen’s, eating ice cream; family outings to the beach, and even photos of my aquarium and the beautiful tropical fish I had nurtured so carefully. The funny thing was that we’d had a family photo album. I remembered browsing it on summer afternoons, with Charlie fighting me for control over it. And I remembered seeing many of these scenes, but not these particular photos. Apparently every time we’d developed a roll of photos my father had divided them in two. One group went into the family album, and the rest into this secret album. As if he had known that the other might not survive.

I stared at each photo for long minutes. It had been so long since I had seen my parents’ faces. My father, with the laugh lines around his eyes, always using a cane to walk. My mother, with the serious grooves alongside her mouth, mitigating her movie-star beauty. I felt a combination of wonder and heartbreak. Sitting here, looking at her face in the photos, I wanted so badly to see her again. I would hug her as tightly as I could, and tell her that I was okay, and that I was so sorry about Charlie.

I put the album aside and took a deep breath. I picked up the envelope full of documents and emptied it on the kitchen table. It contained papers that one might expect to find in any homeowner’s safe, with a twist. Interestingly, there were two sets of identity documents for my entire family, one under the name Haddad, and another under our assumed name of Ibrahim. There were birth certificates for myself and Charlie, old passports, and social security cards, though the latter were under the name of Ibrahim only.

Two property ownership deeds were clipped together. The first was the deed of ownership of the house, indicating that the house had been paid for in cash. I’d always assumed that my parents had taken out a mortgage like everyone else, but obviously with the kind of savings my father had possessed, that would not have been necessary. For the first time, it occurred to me to wonder what had become of the house after my parents’ deaths. Who had taken ownership of it? Who had profited? I shrugged. The Porters owned it now, and that was fine with me.

The second property deed bore the name of an entity I had never heard of – Red Day Incorporated. The deed was for a section of land in Riverside County, zoned for industrial use. I puzzled over that for a minute, until I realized that it was the abandoned rail yard where my mother had taught me to shoot. So my father had known about that all along. Or my mother had told him at the end, after they reconciled. But what was Red Day?

That question was solved as I sorted through the papers. I found incorporation documents for Red Day. It was a foundation based in the Cayman Islands. The officers were listed as – to my surprise – my entire family, under our surname Ibrahim.

I was not about to revive my old identity in order to access the foundation, but I did want to know if the property still belonged to Red Day. If the property taxes had not been paid, the state of California would have repossessed the land and re-sold it. I was thinking about my mother’s guns. If they were discovered it could lead to a police investigation. Or perhaps they’d been discovered long ago and the case was filed away in a cold-case box in a police warehouse. It might be better to leave it alone.

I was tired of examining documents, but there was only one left. It was an account statement from an Austrian bank called Volks Group. No name on the documents. Only a long account number, a series of alphanumerical characters handwritten by my father, and a phrase:  “Share the house.” It was a numbered account. I’d heard of these from a guy I knew in El Reno who’d been sentenced to thirty years for his role in the savings and loan scandal. All you needed was the account number, the access code and the code phrase, and you could access the account and wire money out. Even the bank employees did not know who had opened the account.

The opening balance, according to the documents, was fifty million Austrian schillings. I had no idea how much that equaled in dollars. It could be a thousand dollars or enough to buy a small country, for all I knew.

I’d saved the blue canvas-bound journal for last because I knew what it was. I’d seen my father writing in journals like this many times, and I’d sneaked a peek over his shoulder occasionally. If this was like the others, it was a combination of diary, poetry and philosophical musings.

I opened it randomly. Printed on the page in my father’s neat handwriting was a poem:

Water in the Well

There will always be water
in the well for you,
even when my lips are parched.
There will be an ark
when the troubles rise
and you don’t know where to stand.
There will be strong hands
to lift you, and smiles,
and a heart split wide,
with the sea
rising and falling inside.
There will be rain
from a clear sky.
There will be water in the well
for you, my love.

– Kamal Ibrahim, 1980

 

I read it three times, soaking up the words. It was written for my mother, no doubt. My father had loved her so much.

With trembling hands, I leafed through the journal. I found diary entries, more poems, and thoughts on non-violence, sincerity, defeating racism, the meaning of justice, and more. As I neared the end I saw something that made me go utterly still. My father had written me a letter. It was dated only a few weeks before his death. I’m paraphrasing, but this is more or less what it said:

 

My beloved son Simon,

It’s my hope that you have discovered this journal late in life, along with the others that I have yet to write. I hope that I lived a long and fruitful life, and that you and I came to know each other as men.

I am proud of you. Sometimes I watch you when you don’t notice. I observe you teaching a junior student in Hapkido class, playing with Charlie, or tending to your fish, and I see a boy with a huge heart, boy brimming with love and faith in himself and the world. Watching you is like seeing a piece of my soul, grown into a new person. I love you. And I know your mother feels the same.

Your mother and I sometimes disagree, but she is my angel. Everything she does stems from her deep love for her family. I pray that when you grow up, you find a woman as fiercely protective and loyal as she. That’s no easy task.

There are two great challenges in life, Simon. The first is life itself – the blows it deals you, the setbacks, the hurricanes that knock you off your feet, no matter how strong you are. The way people can betray and disappoint you. Lost love. Sickness. Death.

The second great challenge in life is forgiveness.

Simon, I don’t worry about your ability to weather the storms of life. You are a fighter. You’re stronger than me; stronger than your mother, even. You’re a superhero in the making, son. I see it.

Being a descendant of Antoine Haddad, however, carries a burden of guilt, shame and fear. Aside from that, we each carry our regrets like anchor weights on our hearts. We have our private shames, moments of failure, and times when we lost control and said or did something we shouldn’t have.

Whatever anger you harbor against others, let it go. Anger and resentment make us brittle and cynical, and narrow our vision, making our world small. We become bitter and quick to judge. These negative emotions are poisons that kill us day by day, from the inside out.

Forgiveness opens the lungs and lets us breathe. It releases our hearts to beat freely, and lets the weight fall from our backs.

I know this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must search our hearts for every vestige of bitterness and resentment, and forgive.

Ask God Almighty for forgiveness for anything you’ve done that you regret, then let it go. Others have erred against you because they are human; you have harmed others because you are human. Breathe in and out, and let your regrets escape with each breath. Do this as often as you need.

Forgive me Simon, for any way in which I’ve hurt you, embarrassed you or let you down. Forgive your mother. She’s not perfect, but by now you know that no one is. Forgive your brother. Brothers fight sometimes, but you are Charlie’s hero. Forgive your wife, if you have one, and your children. When families forgive each other it creates a safe, peaceful space. That peace ripples out into society, touching everyone we encounter. By that means we change the world.

This last one is hard. Being a Haddad means having enemies by default. People will hate and fear you because of your name. I’m asking you to forgive the ones who denounce and injure you. Do it not for their sake but for your own heart, and for God.

Simon, be gentle with yourself and others. The world is bursting with hatred, divisions, and suffering. It is torn by war and conflict. Let us change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle, and forgive, because when you hate, you die inside; but when you forgive, you live.

Love,

Your father,

Kamal Ibrahim

***

Jamilah looked at the floor, feeling ashamed. “People will hate and fear you because of your name,” Hassan’s father had said. That was me. I denounced him because of his name. How could I have been so foolish and callous? She said a silent, secret du’a. “O Allah, soften my heart, and make me not judge people without understanding. I know I can do better with Your help. Ameen.”

***

I was stunned. It was as if my father had been alive all these years, and knew exactly what I had gone through, and was sitting beside me now, speaking to my soul. When he spoke of forgiving Charlie and forgiving my wife, I felt an up-welling of shame. Forgive them? I was the one who had let them down.

Forgive myself, my father had said. I understood his point, but I wasn’t there yet. It would take time. I closed the journal tenderly and began packing the safe contents into one of the two backpacks I owned. I closed the empty safe and with a last burst of effort, I lowered the cement block into place. Then I reinstalled the wooden flooring on that section.

Exhausted, I slept until Fajr. Then I woke up, prayed, and packed my few personal possessions and clothes into the other backpack.

The first backpack – the one that held the safe contents – was tremendously heavy, laden with gold. Fortunately, I was strong. I slipped it on, slung the lighter one over my shoulders, strapped the mysterious black briefcase onto the rear wheel rack of my bicycle, turned off all the lights in the cottage, and wheeled my bike out into the driveway.

I stood in the dawn light, gazing back at the house. One of the Porter children – the instruments, as I thought of them – had left a tricycle on the front lawn, and it was covered in morning dew. Probably Oboe. The house looked so different now, that it was hard to remember it as it had been so many years ago.

If not for my childhood in this house, I might not have known that happiness existed. I might not have believed in love, or in the concept of family. I might have thought the world to be an unrelentingly wicked place. I might have lost myself to the war in Lebanon, becoming as evil as Sarkis.

But that would never happen to me, because I had grown up seeing the love between my mother and father, and understanding that I was a product of that love, and that this was how life was meant to be.

I shrugged my shoulders almost imperceptibly. My parents were long gone… This house held no meaning for me now.

The night sky in Los Angeles is never truly dark. A billion street lamps, home lights, store lights, car dealerships, neon signs, and car headlights illuminate the L.A. basin, making the vast region glow like a tangerine, even on a moonless night. If you peered hard enough, you could get a glimpse of the deep black of space. When dawn came, the approaching sun altered the sky’s glow, transforming it into radioactive orange, until the last trace of darkness was banished.

I was ready to leave this city and never return.

So, Jamilah, to answer your question, as it turned out I was able to find what my father had hidden and get out safely. But what if I’d had to jackhammer the floor and leave it that way? What if I’d been caught digging? What if I’d had to flee? It would have been bad for me if I’d given my real name. I might have the cops looking for me. I might have been sent back to prison. I had to make choices to keep myself safe.

I gave the gold, diamonds and figurines to B, who sold them using some contacts of his. I was right – they were worth a small fortune. I gave B a percentage. He refused at first, but I insisted.

I couldn’t stay in L.A. I had too much painful history there, and even the slim chance of running into someone who recognized me from my childhood was a risk I would not take.

San Francisco called to me. I had never forgotten my happy childhood trip to the City, with my parents and Charlie. More recently, when I’d been arrested I’d first been held in the San Francisco jail, then across the bay in Oakland. Between court appearances I was transported by the U.S. marshals to a maximum security federal penitentiary outside a small town called Lompoc, on the coast. With all the moving around, I saw quite a bit of the region through the windows of the various vans, SUVs and minibuses that the marshals used. True, I was bound in handcuffs, leg irons and waist chains, but that didn’t stop me from being astounded at the beauty of San Francisco.

I will never forget the first time I was transported back to San Francisco from Oakland. Coming across the Bay Bridge, the City rises up in front of you like a dream of the future. Tall buildings reach for the sky, and hills covered in trees and mist climb behind them. Blue water surrounds the City like a shimmering veil, with untouched Angel Island on your right like a green gem, and Alcatraz behind it. And then the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, standing watch over the City, guarding the exit to the sea.

I quit the job at Slim’s and rented a room at another motel. I called the County Office of the Assessor and inquired about the ownership of the old rail yard in the desert, and I was informed that it was owned by Red Day Corp. So after all those years, the property still belonged to my mother, and now to me, it seemed. My mother must have set up a trust fund that kept the property taxes paid.

I had already passed my driving exam and received my license in the name Hassan Amir. I bought a used van and drove to the rail yard, using a map to find my way. It had been a long time and many of the landmarks had changed, but in the end I found it.

In the old days my mother had installed a secure metal gate on the dirt road that led to the rail yard. She’d, hung a large “No Trespassing” sign, and locked the gate with a combination padlock. When I arrived I stopped for a moment to take in an odd sight.

The gate stood wide open. On it hung a large wooden sign entirely painted in rainbow colors and featuring various symbols such as a sleepy sun, a smiling moon, and a tao symbol with flowers where the circles would be. At the top was the word, “PAZ”, painted in large white letters. I knew that “paz” meant “peace” in Spanish. Was this some kind of immigrant community?

One side of the dirt road had been planted with poppy flowers, and the other with date palms that stood twenty feet tall. It looked like a road to someplace magical.

I drove in slowly, not knowing what to expect. I found, to my amazement, a thriving community of hippies.

The dilapidated buildings of the rail yard had been renovated and painted in bright colors. Wherever there was dirt, flowers and food crops grew. I saw tomatoes, melons and prickly pears.

Up the hill from the rail yard, three large wind turbines spun steadily.

Dozens of people walked in the same direction, passing through what had once been a switching station and now looked like a town square. The train tracks were still there, but they now ran through cobblestones and among palm trees.

The women wore billowy dresses or long skirts with sandals or boots. The men were mostly in jeans and African dashikis or tie-dyed t-shirts. The scent of burning sage filled the air, and I heard the sound of instrumental music.

I parked on the edge of the square and got out.

An Asian girl walked by, wearing a long dress with a peacock pattern. Her hair was matted into dreadlocks.

“Excuse me,” I said. “What’s going on here?”

“It’s lunch time,” she responded cheerfully. Tipping her head, she indicated a large building that, I remembered, had once been a warehouse for old train parts.

“I need to speak to the person in charge,” I said.

She laughed heartily, belying her small frame. “Good one,” she said. “Be here now.” She gave me the Southeast Asian gesture of peace, lifting her hands to her forehead, palms together. Then she walked off.

The warehouse had been completely renovated and outfitted like a school cafeteria, with long rows of wooden tables and a serving area. There must have been a hundred people packed inside, eating vegetable stew and cornbread. It smelled good, actually.

At one table by the far wall I saw a thirtyish woman with long brown hair and yellow macramé bracelets on her wrists. I noticed her because other people kept approaching her, speaking to her briefly, then walking away.

I sat down across from her and she looked up inquiringly.

“Are you in charge?” I asked.

“Ah,” she said. “You must be new. I’m Bernadette.”

“I’m Simon,” I said. “Are you in charge?” I used my old name because that was the name on the Red Day foundation documents. I’d brought those documents and my old I.D.s, but the I.D. papers were old and I did not intend to show them except as a last resort.

She smiled and shook her head slightly. “No one’s in charge here, friend. This is the Progressive Anarchy Zone. We live without government or judgment.”

A commune. This was a hippie commune, or something like that. Well, that was fine. But where were my mother’s guns? In the old days there had been a smaller building that had once been used as a dining hall for the rail workers. Next to it had been a small kitchen. My mother had kept her gun cases inside the disused walk-in freezer, secured with a thick padlock.

I’d seen that old dining hall on the edge of the town square. It was painted yellow with a large mural on the front depicting a rainbow rising from a sea of upstretched arms.

The guns had almost certainly been found, in which case these people might have notified the police. It might be better to forget about the guns and walk away. After all, what did I need them for? I’d made a vow never to kill again. All those heavy weapons could only attract attention.

But they were my mother’s. They were all I had left of her. And what if… what if Boulos found me one day and sent someone after me? What if Sarkis or Mr. Black found me? Wouldn’t I need a way to defend myself, vow or no vow?

I didn’t know what the right thing was. I cast a thought to Allah, praising Him within my mind. Allah, You have wisdom and I have none. You have power and I have none.

A middle-aged man with a long beard approached and offered that same palms-together salute. “Bernie, the USGS wants an appointment to test for contaminants.”

Bernadette nodded, “That’s fine.”

“It seems like you’re in charge,” I said.

She shook her head. “We have an elected cooperative council, and I’m the head. But I own nothing. Everyone sweats. I clean toilets like any flower.”

“Bernadette,” I said, “I own this property. Or, to be accurate, I own Red Day Corp, which owns the property.” I opened a file folder and showed her the deed of ownership.

Bernadette’s mouth became a flat line. “Walk with me, Simon,” she said.

I followed her out of the building. She walked me around the property, pointing out the work the commune had done. Aside from renovating, painting and planting, they had built a food packing plant, dormitories, the three wind turbines up the hill, a small dairy operation with about twenty cows, and a small school. When Bernadette and I glanced in the window of the schoolhouse, I was bemused to see the children taking science notes on Apple computers. It seemed incongruous, somehow.

“The flowers here – the people, I mean – were homeless, or drug addicts, or ex-cons. They were people with nowhere left to go. Here they’ve found a home.”

“That’s great,” I said. “But why are you telling me this?”

“Because I don’t know your intentions,” Bernadette said, rounding on me. Her brown eyes flashed and she jabbed me in the chest with an index finger. “We’ve been here eight years. We’ve built and invested. We’re willing to pay you a reasonable rent. But if you try to evict us we’ll fight tooth and nail. California recognizes squatter’s rights.”

I raised my eyebrows, “I thought you were about peace and love.”

“What do you want?” Bernadette demanded, “Lay it on me straight.”

“Once upon a time,” I said, “there were several large aluminum cases locked in the walk-in freezer in that building over there,” I pointed to the yellow building with the rainbow mural.

I saw Bernadette’s expression instantly change, becoming wary and guarded. She gazed at the yellow building, then glanced at me sidelong, saying nothing.

I waited. Finally she puffed up her cheeks and let out her breath in a huff.

“Why do you need all those weapons?” she asked. “Are you a gangster? A terrorist?”

“No,” I said, “They belonged to my mother. She had a dealer’s license. I might dump them in the sea, I don’t know.”

“How do I know they’re yours?”

“You know they’re mine. Who else would know about them? I know the lock combinations on the cases, and I know exactly what each case holds.”

I’d fired each of those guns so many times that I remembered them like old friends, and I proceeded to detail for her the contents of the handgun case, itemizing them from memory.

“I don’t need this land,” I said, changing tactics to keep her off balance, “Your commune can stay. Just give me the cases.”

“Right on,” she said, looking at me searchingly, “I want to show you one more thing.”

Bernadette led me to the rear of the property, where the commune had constructed three spacious greenhouses. We entered one. The air inside was warm and moist. Orderly rows of leafy round bushes reached almost to the ceiling.

“Do you know what these are?”

“Hazelnuts,” I answered promptly.

She gave me a surprised look, “Most Americans wouldn’t know a hazelnut from a halibut. They’re mostly grown in Turkey.”

I didn’t tell her that I’d lived in Turkey, and that Mehmet had cultivated several hazelnut bushes in the small backyard at the Western Door. Hazelnut roast had been our best-selling coffee.

“You might also know,” Bernadette said, “that researchers and growers have found it difficult to grow hazelnuts in the United States because of Eastern Filbert Blight. These plants,” she waved her hand to indicate the lush hazelnut bushes all around us, “were specially developed by the University of Seattle to be resistant to EFB. We were able to obtain cuttings at great difficulty, and at a cost of two hundred thousand dollars. Still, the first crop failed. It took us four years of trying and a total of a half million dollars to get this operation running. Now that we’re harvesting, these three greenhouses are funding our entire community. Hazelnuts are a lucrative crop. This is our lifeblood.”

“So you’ve got wealthy supporters.”

“No, we don’t,” She glanced at me nervously, “Come.”

I followed her to a field behind the dairy barn where a mountain of cow manure ten feet tall and twenty feet in diameter steamed in the sun. The ripe smell halted me in my tracks.

“Your gun cases are buried in a hole at the bottom of that pile,” Bernadette said.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I muttered.

“Don’t worry,” she said, grinning mischievously. “I’ll have a team dig them up. You won’t have to muss your pretty hair. Now follow me.”

She led me back to the center of the camp, then to a row of small bungalows on the far side of the square. Each bungalow was a different color. Bernadette took me into the blue one, which was unlocked.

“These are my quarters,” she said, making a gesture with her hand that took in the entire one-room living space. A small bed covered in a lovely handmade quilt stood against the wall. A door let to what I assumed was the bathroom.

Bernadette opened the bathroom door and indicated the cabinet beneath the sink. “Your other case is there,” she said, “In back.”

Other case? What was she talking about? I got on my hands and knees and removed bottles of cleaning solution, a toilet plunger and a package of toilet paper. Behind them was another silver case, smaller than the others. I had never seen this case before in my life.

“I changed the combination,” Bernadette said, “The new one is 81569. Woodstock, you know.”

I didn’t know what Woodstock was, but I opened the case and stared in shock at stacks of shrink-wrapped fifty and hundred dollar bills. I gave Bernadette a look of surprised confusion.

“Please understand,” Bernadette said with a tremor in her voice, “We thought these cases had been abandoned. We’re honest people. But we were desperate. Before the hazelnuts, we were on the verge of bankruptcy. Some of us were actually going hungry. We’re all outcasts here, at the end of the line. We only spent what we needed to survive and to get the greenhouses going.”

I realized that Bernadette had mistaken my surprised look for anger. In spite of my denial, she was convinced that I was a gangster of some kind, and that I might harm her for spending my money. I decided to let her continue believing that.

“How much have you spent?” I said sternly.

“Tww pah two mihhhh,” Bernadette mumbled.

“Excuse me?”

“Two point two million,” she said more clearly. “There’s still ten million left. We haven’t taken any money in over two years. We kept a strict accounting, as you’ll see from the logbook in the case lining. We’re not thieves. We’ll pay you back.”

Ten million dollars? SubhanAllah! Was this my mother’s money? Or my father’s? He obviously knew about the rail yard. Had he anticipated a day when I would be here, in this place, retrieving these cases? Had he known that he was in danger? My breath caught. Of course he had. That’s why he reunited with my mom.

“Friend Simon?”

I turned to Bernadette, “Socialism funded by someone else’s capital?”

She brushed her hair back from her face and looked away, “Our hazelnut operation is profitable now. We’ll start paying you back, I promise.”

“You’ve kept this money in the bathroom all this time?”

She shrugged, “No one knows about it but me and Frost – the old man you saw talking to me in the dining hall. People don’t steal here. Anyway, hiding in plain sight and all that.”

I nodded. “Your discretion is the price for the missing money and for remaining on this land.”

She closed her eyes for a moment in relief, “I knew I could trust you, friend Simon. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to stay? You have the look of a man who could use some love and harmony.”

Lena would have loved this place, I was sure. It provided instant friendship and community. Maybe my parents would have liked it as well. It was funny that a place that my mother had brought me to every week to learn to shoot and kill, had become a peace-loving hippie commune. The irony made me smile.

But I didn’t think it would be good for me. I needed to be around other Muslims. Also, though I doubted that Boulos knew about this place, there was no sense taking chances.

“I can’t,” I said regretfully, “And I was never here. That’s my price.”

By sunset, the gun cases had been excavated, hosed off and loaded into my van. All the guns and heavy weapons were in place, resting in their foam molds.

It would have been nice to stay. If only there were a community of Muslims like that, where everyone was accepted regardless of their background. Where everyone was treated equally, no matter their race or religion; where Arab and South Asian immigrants mixed with African-American and other converts without reservation; where women could be community leaders as well as men; where everyone worked together for the good of the community. A new Madinah. Why does that not exist? Why are the non-Muslims – or at least some of them – trying to live in harmony with each other and the earth, while the Muslims are fighting each other, living under dictatorship, and immigrating for the sake of worldly wealth? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

That’s my story. B helped me set up an offshore corporation and advised me to use it to invest in real estate, which I did. My property investments here in San Francisco have tripled and quadrupled in value.

It turned out that the 50 million schillings in the numbered Austrian account equaled several million dollars. I left most of it in place, but transferred a portion to a bank in Indonesia and used it to found an orphanage there.

***

“You started an orphanage in Indonesia?” Muhammad said, “That’s awesome.”

Hassan smiled. “It’s called Bait As-Salam. It houses twenty five children now. I get case reports on all of them.”

“Dude! That’s beautiful, Hassan. I’d love to help you with that in some way.”

“Hold on!” Jamilah exclaimed, “The orphanage is wonderful, ma-sha-Allah. But what do you mean, ‘that’s my story’? You haven’t told us anything.”

Hassan bugged his eyes out in surprise, “I haven’t?”

Jamilah shook her head, “Before we get to the bigger and very obvious question of what’s going on, why are you working as a bike messenger?”

“That’s confidential between me and Adel.”

“I think it would be best,” Kadija said, “to be upfront about everything at this point. There’s no need for any more more secrets.”

Hassan sighed, “I moved to San Francisco and didn’t know what to do with myself. Managing my investments took a fraction of my time. I helped to get the Islamic Society off the ground, and I started my martial arts class. I was training four, five hours a day, and spending the rest of my time at the masjid. But I had no structure.

I was drinking coffee one day at Steps of Rome in North Beach and I met a Palestinian brother. We got to talking and he told me he had an idea for a business, but that he needed an investor. He’d run a successful medical courier company in Kuwait, and was thinking of starting a bike messenger company in San Francisco. He’d noticed that the City was expanding down the southern waterfront and the Third Street corridor, as well as along Bayshore. Software companies, multimedia firms, print shops, reprographics, music studios and more were all moving south, but the existing messenger companies were based in SOMA or downtown. He’d done some market research, and the opportunity was there.”

“You’re talking about Adel,” Muhammad said.

“Yes. He was just making conversation, but his ideas seemed well-researched. Plus, I liked him. He had a certain gravitas that spoke of hardships overcome.

I stunned him when I told him that I could be his investor. So we got Hammerhead Courier going. We had the zone maps from all the existing messenger companies, but we realized that we needed something different. The competitors all mark the Financial District as their zone one, and typically Civic Center as zone two. Third Street and Bayshore are zones three or even four, which makes messengering documents expensive for companies down there. But we wanted to make Third Street zone one, and we needed to map it out.

I missed riding a bike, so I said I would do it. I began cycling all over town with a map, noting the concentrations of businesses and sketching out zones. It was fun. It was a relief, actually. I had a specific job to do every day. Something to wake up for. And when I was riding, I forgot about everything else.

It’s still like that. On a busy day, when I’m holding half a dozen tags and hustling, it’s just me, the bike, the road, the wind, and nothing else. I don’t think about the past. I just move my body, and I’m like a fish in the sea. I’m happy.

When we were done mapping zones, leasing a building, hiring staff and securing clients, and the company had work coming in, I told Adel that I wanted to ride. I needed it. It was like food for me, and still is. I still manage my investments, teach my class, and serve on the board at the Islamic Society, but riding keeps me sane.”

***

“Hassan,” Kadija said, “If I understand you correctly, you actually own Hammerhead Courier.”

“Well… Yes, technically,” Hassan said, “But Adel is the president and is in charge of operational decisions. That was our deal.”

“So that’s why Sahar thought you could influence Adel to let her marry me!” Muhammad exclaimed.

“What?” Jamilah said incredulously, “Sahar marry you?”

“Long story,” Hassan said.

Jamilah had a sudden and very unpleasant thought, “Ohhhhh. That’s why I got my job back. Not because Adel realized he made a mistake. You forced him.”

“Absolutely not,” Hassan said, “Adel makes operational decisions. He knew it was the right thing to do.”

“Hassan…” Jamilah shook her head. “This isn’t right.”

“Why?”

“You’ve been lying to us, playing bike messenger, acting like life is a game and we’re pawns. You think being a messenger is a dream job? I do it because I have to. I hustle to pay my bills. You think I want to end my days tired and bruised? You think I want to ride in the rain and cold, soaked from hijab to toe, and no one cares as long as the package is dry? And you’re doing it as, what, a hobby? Therapy? That offends me. You’re a millionaire. You could be doing anything you want.”

“Maybe he is doing what he wants,” Kadija said, “If a cat wants to chew on a fish head, who are you to tell him otherwise?”

“I know,” Jamilah said, “But Hassan, you talked about a new Madinah, and how we need that, and why doesn’t it exist? You could work to make that happen. You have the resources, the knowledge, the understanding. You could do so much more than ride a bike. You could make a real difference in the world.”

“And would you do it with me?”

“I… What do you mean?”

 

Next: Introduction to Ouroboros, the exciting conclusion to Hassan’s Tale.

 

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

64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Helpless Slave

    September 30, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    Finally. Jazakallahu Khayr MM Editor for posting the story and come to think of it we have never did think of thanking you for posting the story of time all these days but gave you a ride through hell for not posting it on schedule. I guess it was immature on our end and I pray that Allah eases your stress, difficulties and makes it a reason to get through to him.

    Also We appreciate you for help in running a useful Islamic website that is of paramount benefit for the Ummah. And also Jazakallahu Khayr and a huge Kudos for our Awesome Brother Wael, May Allah bless you with more creativity, cuz we just can’t get enough of you creative spirited writing.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      September 30, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      You are absolutely right in thanking the editors. I too want to thank them for their hard work. Editors: may Allah reward you for your dedication.

  2. Nus

    September 30, 2014 at 6:38 AM

    Whoah brother Wael! A hippie commune, unlimited cash, a kidnap and a police officer shot! Can’t wait for the final series! I guess Hassan and Jamilah survive if we are to speculate if they marry in the end or not.

  3. umm habiba

    September 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    The much awaited story! Jus going to read it.. Jazaak Allah khair in advance coz I know it’s going to be a good read

  4. Safa

    September 30, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Woah….that was an amazing end to Hassan’s tale, tabarakallah.

    The wait was definitely worth it. Thank you MM Staff & Br. Wael for your patience and enduring all that you had endure. May Allah reward you and give you barakah in all that you do. Ameen.

  5. Omer

    September 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    Salam alikom brother Wael,
    I do not think you comprehend how much of a gifted writer you really are. As soon as I completed reading page 1 I was amazed at your depth of insight. That’s just a tiny example of the many examples you have graced us with for the past two years while writing your stories. You include a variety of scenarios and experiences which always keep us interested and broaden our perspective. I know that there is one more story left before this series ends, but since there will be a decent pause I just wanted to express that I truly enjoyed it so far, and they have significantly boosted MM’s content.

    On another note, I was curious about the poem ( and perhaps all of his other writings) Hassan’s dad wrote. Did you specifically write them for this story, or where you influenced from something else?

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      September 30, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Omer, wa alaykum as-salam. You know, I was afraid readers would be annoyed with me for leaving them with so many loose ends before the last story. But ma-sha-Allah you are all so cool about it. Thank you for your kind comment. Some of the poems were written specifically for these stories (the poems about Lebanon, for example). The letter from Hassan’s father was adapted from an article that I wrote for my IslamicSunrays.com blog years ago. The poem in this chapter was written for my daughter :-)

      • Talibeilm

        October 1, 2014 at 1:30 AM

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

        First, wow ma sha Allah tabarakallah, hazakallahu khayran katheera for this story. It was totally, totally worth the wait and all the hand-wringing.

        Second, the poem is just so beautiful :) I’m going to save it for my daughter.

        Third, cannot wait for the final section but as the same time, quite relieved that the story doesn’t need to end anytime soon. I just hope that we remember all the details because the story is so much more detailed now.

        Finally, thank you MM for bearing with all of us impatient readers and for hosting so many talented writers on your site. I’ve been visiting MM for a long time now and it just keeps getting better and better. Ma sha Allah, Tabarakallah.

      • Omer

        October 1, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        Your daughter is very lucky to have you, Inshallah she grows up to emulate and enhance the love and care you have for her, to spread it to the ones around her and the community in general.

  6. iffat

    September 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Wow !!!! Just wow !! Subhan Allah … You are an amazing writer and you work hard for your chapters to be perfect hence , the delay. About auroboros , please don’t give us a sad ending, we are already so hooked. with the characters and it will give me a heart break of they die in the end. Well, anyway keep writing this awesome and may Allah grant barakah in your work and in your life.

  7. sameera

    September 30, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    What 3 months…. thats such a long time brother. Anxiously waiting for the final part. I hope your book gets published.

  8. mf

    September 30, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Awesome!!!!
    Mashalllah.
    Worth all the wait. May Allah guide u and help u with the best.

  9. Hafsa Creates (@HafsaCreates)

    September 30, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    The part of forgiveness was really deep. Jazak Allah Khair for sharing that.

  10. Reader

    September 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Wow! Awesome! Awesome!! Ma-sha-Allah..amazing end. Jazakallahu khair brother wael for this amazing series.. Waiting for the final story.

  11. Wazeed

    September 30, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Another cliff hanger tho! aha. Ma’Sha Allah. will tune back next year In Sha Allah

  12. ummfatima

    September 30, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    MashaAllah.Alhamdulillah.I really enjoyed reading all your stories.MashaAllah they all are iman boosters.InshaAllah I will tell my son to read all the stories during EidulAdha break.I am sure he will enjoy reading them and I don’t have to worry about anything.My duas to your daughter.I hope you inspire many young children to pursue the art of writing.JazakumAllahu Khairaan Katheera.

  13. Umm Saeed

    October 1, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Thank you brother Wael and MM for such a great story. It was the perfect beginning to my day. I just got the kids off to school, baby still sleeping, cup of chai in my hand and your story! Very enjoyable read. We will be waiting to see how it all ends!

  14. Blue Pilot

    October 1, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    I feel really scared now. What will they do to Jamilah and Muhammad. :”(

    If Hassan knew that everyone was in danger, and that the Patridge was looking for him… why did he let Jamilah go only with Muhammad, who he knew couldn’t even fire a gun… and that too in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT???

    The ending felt like how it had felt when I finished Harry Potter book 5 or 6, a loooooong time ago, at the end of which Voldemort had risen. Lol!

    But I’ve lost touch with Jamilah, I don’t like her character. In this entire narrative, she has come off as self-centered. Instead of feeling immensely sympathetic towards Hassan, as well as being awed by him, she’s constantly thinking of herself in the equation.

    Maybe you should try to connect the audience with Jamilah along the way and show her good side.

    Lastly, I have NEVER read anything as gripping as this which has such wonderful Islamic lessons woven into it. We really need books like these for our youth as well as the not-so-young. May Allah put barakah in you brother Wael, may Allah keep you guided, and help you to contribute a LOT in this manner to the Ummah, and may Allah accept it from you.

    Eagerly waiting for the last part. Please make it a happy ending :D

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      October 1, 2014 at 12:53 AM

      Jazak Allah khayr for your comments Blue Pilot (and all other readers above). I really appreciate it.

      You’re right, Hassan made a big mistake letting Jamilah and Muhammad go out alone, even with the gun. I think he assumed that since no one knows his address (except for Dr. Basim), it was safe.

      You’re not the only one to express such reservations about Jamilah. I think even she doesn’t like herself sometimes. She’s struggling with her own tendency to judge, and with her anger over the atrocities committed against her people. Can she overcome all that and see Hassan for who he is? Will she even survive this danger? We will see, Insha’Allah.

      • Iman

        October 1, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        I think that the whole Jamila-Hassan relationship is very interesting…in a way it mirrors the whole Lena-Hassan relationship: one person who is steady, mature, and loving takes a liking to a person who is in need of cocooning – to help their good qualities come out. As Hassan in his old form of a soldier needed someone to see through and nurture the light in him, Jamila appears to need this too. But what would help is if she eventually starts to allow herself to actually admire Hassan…we can see that Mohammad admires him – so impressed by the orphanage – but Jamila brushes past that and almost appears to withhold praise. this is an interesting dynamic because what successful wives usually are good at is giving support and admiration to their husbands – and it might just be a way to keep herself distant that Jamila withholds this…It provides a great opprtunity again to explore how this dynamic *can* develop or even how Jamila discovers that this is the fitrah way for a wife to be…she has aspects of her that are very hardened but perhaps if she sees another woman (Kadija) express admiration for Hassan, her jealousy might rise….or perhaps she can learn through just experiencing how right it feels for her, as a wife, to admire her husband and not keep challenging him. on the other hand, he may need to gently teach her to let down her guard and be less critical…or Kadija might need to do this… AS for happy endings – please don’t give us a sappy ending. keep it real as you have so far. otherwise it would feel like a cop-out.

        • Wael Abdelgawad

          October 1, 2014 at 1:39 PM

          Iman, what a very insightful comment ma-sha-Allah. Comments like this actually give me ideas, and give me more insight into my own characters.

      • gina

        October 2, 2014 at 1:06 AM

        Jazak Allahu khairan Br. Wael for your writing. Since I discovered these stories early this years, I have impatiently looked forward to Wednesdays and have invariably been educated, entertained, uplifted and inspired. Your writing has been a blessing. May Allah SWT reward you and fill your pen with noor. Ameen

  15. M

    October 1, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Now that’s what I call a cliff hanger. Both the letter and the poem made me cry. MashaAllah brother, you really are a gifted writer.

    By the way, Officer Katrina isn’t dead right? It would be very sad if she was. I mean you wouldn’t have introduced her just to kill her off without any important part to play. I just hope none of the main characters die in the final part. You’re not one of those writers who like killing off main characters, are you???

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      October 1, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      “you wouldn’t have introduced her just to kill her off without any important part to play.”

      Aha, you’re thinking like a writer!

      As for the main characters, I would be sad to see any of them die. However, they are facing a great danger and it’s possible that someone will not survive.

      • Talibeilm

        October 1, 2014 at 1:33 AM

        I’m just hoping that Officer Katrina killed someone important.

  16. Jannah

    October 1, 2014 at 4:33 AM

    SUBHANALLAH!! Waited patiently and kept checking MM for days for the story. When it finally came out, I read the first page, cried and cried at the letters and poem left by Hassan’s father. Incredible man, he has characteristics of a muslim. I delayed reading the other 4 parts as I had read the comments and saw 3 MONTHS for the next series. Finally read it and WOW is the only word I can think of. SubhanAllah amazing amazing writer brother Wael I can see it all unfolding in front of me eyes. May Allah bless you and reward you for your efforts. May Allah grant us all patience in all aspects of life.

  17. Umm Bilal

    October 1, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    Subhaanallah!! Awesome awesome read.. i was on the 5th page, went back and read it all over again . It was like i couldn’t get enough of it, u know… Now brother Wael you have got me addicted to the story and I know many of us are !! The fact that Patridge will get hold of Mohammed and Jamilah is terrorizing me. And the three months wait is definitely not going to make it easy…:) anyways thawakkalthu ala”llah!!

  18. Iman

    October 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Jamila’s spirited nature could be somewhat compared to Ummina Aisha (rady Allah anha’s character…she rady Allah anha was also younger than Sydna Nabi sal Allah alayhi wasalam, and we see a relationship there of Sydna Nabi sal Allahu alayhi wasalam raising her spiritully – giving her tarbiyah and we see her mature over the course of the relationship in a way that is unique amongst the Ummahat al Mu’mineen – and we see sometimes that she, rady Allahu anha, being young, made mistakes, sometimes showing a lack of respect – but how gently Sydna Nabi sal Allahu alayhi wasalam dealt with these and how he sal Allahu alayhi wasalam mentored her to become a great spiritual teacher eventually – and through giving her lots of love and affection which steadied her and allowed her to accept his sal Allahu alayhi wasalam teaching and light and smoothing of her rough edges. May
    Allah be Pleased with her!

  19. Rabya

    October 1, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    SubhanAllah!!!!
    1-I’m really sad!!! 3 MONTHS!!! With no story…snifff, i guess I’ll have to start over the ENTIRE series! :)
    2-Ma shaa Allah! As I said, always a sweet surprise after the wait! This was amazing brother Wael! Alhamdulillah!
    The attention to detail, the cliffhangers, the letter (which I’m sooo saving :D)!
    I love Hassan’s dad, it’s sooo sad we didn’t get to see more of him in the story!
    I was soooo hoping everyone would go home safely and just Hassan and Layth would have to deal with the Killers! But nooooo, you just had to add that thrill and suspense didn’t you!! :)
    3-I’m definetely not liking Jamilah very much in this story! I seriously don’t think she’s worthy of Hassan. :)

    Oh well, thanks for all this!
    Thank you MM for putting up with all our drama! PLEASE forgive our hastiness and impatience, we are but mere addicts of these stories!
    See you all in January in shaa Allah! May we all regroup in a higher state of health and iman! Amin
    Wa salam aleikoum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      October 1, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      Reading the series over again is a good idea, actually :-) Take your time, so that by the time three months are up the story will still be fresh in your mind. I go back and re-read the stories for the same reason.

      • Shabeeb Hasan

        January 15, 2015 at 12:07 AM

        Hey brother Wael Asalamuailaikum,

        I thought the next part to the story would be here in January but I haven’t seen it yet on MM. Is it still due to come out?

  20. Talibeilm

    October 1, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Was just re-reading this story. I got stuck at this sentence yesterday and today… is this a typo?

    “Left him in the trunk?” Kadija said, “Brother, this is crazy as all get out.”

    And this is just me wondering out loud… should it be “she included” or “her included”?

    But it was two in the morning, and everyone was beat, she included.

    • Bint A

      October 2, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      I second the correction; it should be “herself included” instead of “she” –>
      “But it was two in the morning, and everyone was beat, she included.”

      Anyways, my really random reactions to the story:
      1- I totally teared up at that letter…. almost wanted to choke…very touching. I can tell that portion is written from the heart and from a lot of personal experience… it wasn’t just cheap sentiment. BaarakAllahu feek….truly value you for sharing that with us

      2- there were parts in the story that literally made me hold my breath. And I mean Literally.
      The impending doom of Jamilah and Muhammad was one instance…the build up to the kidnapping was like ants crawling over me…*shivers*

      3- There were parts that I reread out-loud as if I was enacting the scene taking place live and the possible emotions and tones of voice in the reactions. Please do note that this took place in a room where I was the only occupant …

      As you can see there are many ways readers engage with what you have written. And I’m very honoured to be part of the creative process as it takes place LIVE. Its a different feel when the story is YET to be written… so we await, Brother Wael, contented and patient.

  21. salam

    October 2, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    Awesome story so far, please keep it real till the end – in real life, people do die, even those you love …

    jazakum Allahu khayran

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      October 17, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      Thank you. I always try to be authentic, and to do what the story demands, rather than what I would like. So I appreciate your support.

  22. umm habiba

    October 2, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    I was wrong. This was not a good read. It was excellent!! The part on forgiving, the poem, the letter, the flow of the story, the excitement, the suspense…
    And now it’s a 3 month wait! It’s ok , we are waiting

  23. Hazza

    October 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    As Salaamu Aleikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuhu,

    Absolutely well worth the wait, I do apologize once again for being so hasty and with my lack of patience towards you and MM editors…please do forgive us for our short-comings.

    Masha’Allah…tabarak’Allah…Jazzak Allahu khairan fi-dunyah wal-akhirah wal-firdaws Br. Wael. I absolutely admire and love your writing skills (masha’Allah) and may Allah (SWT) always keep increasing you in your blessings…Allah-humma Ameen.

    Salaamullah :-D

  24. F

    October 4, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Salaams,
    Jazakallah khayr for this amazing series!
    Re: Jamilah: be nice people! ;)
    1)To be fair Jamilah is a very Real character, if you know what I mean. Where Hassan’s character is slightly fantastical, she’s so characteristic of a young not-so-perfect-but-trying-her-best muslimah. Also, if we think back to how she came to be in SF and her commitment to the hijab, we realise she’s one strong girl with her heart in the right place. As for her strong (often negative) emotions, they’re realistic of someone so young. Maybe that’s what Hassan sees in her: she so strong-willing and young; he’s so straight-laced she’ll do him some good.
    2) Hassan is no angel, who would not be angry if they’d got attached to someone only to find they’d lied about every. single. thing! She’s so invested in him so she’s obviously hurt and feels out of her depth.

    • Umm bilal

      October 5, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      @ F , exactly what I thought!!

  25. LadyMariam

    October 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Salaam Bro, missed out for a while. I think since we started Ramadan. Alhamdulillah been able to catch up. Your stories are such “scroll downs” if you get what I mean. May Allah bless you and let you finish writing this and even more others. Jazaakallah Khairan

  26. Humaira Khan

    October 16, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    Wow! Just wow!!

  27. AvidReader

    November 19, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    I miss this… :(

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      November 19, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      Thank you, AvidReader. I just submitted a short story, though it’s not a part of the Hassan’s Tale series.

      • AA

        December 13, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        I can’t find your new story on MM. Can you provide the link please?

        • Wael Abdelgawad

          December 18, 2014 at 3:50 PM

          AA, it wasn’t published, as it needs some further work.

  28. Amina

    December 25, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    When is the next part coming out??? Too excited! I’ve been following this ever since you first posted khadija and Louis’s story and now that it’s on the last part It’s making me sad :(

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      December 26, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      I’m working on it. It’s going slowly, unfortunately. I’ll try to have it out sometime in January Insha’Allah.

  29. Bahaar

    January 6, 2015 at 5:25 PM

    Okay so I have been waiting for January… 16th is my birthday – please tell me you will have something to read soon!!

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      January 15, 2015 at 12:48 AM

      I’ve been working on it but it’s been slow going. I cannot provide a release date right now.

  30. taban

    March 1, 2015 at 11:47 PM

    Asalaamualaikum its march brother :(((((((((((

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      March 2, 2015 at 1:09 AM

      Wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah. I know, and I apologize. I’ve been working intensively on a book of love poems. Let me complete that Insha’Allah, and then I’ll get back to the story. I cannot give a firm deadline right now.

  31. taban

    March 2, 2015 at 8:52 PM

    Asalaamualaikum its march now brother :((((( auroborus????

  32. taban

    March 2, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    May Allah give you happiness in this life and hereafter Aameen sorry for dual comment thought it was not posted earlier

  33. homayra

    March 4, 2015 at 7:09 PM

    i read this story many moons ago … The next part is not out yet? I dnt even know how i remembered it between 2 kids and a pregnancy…guess i miss the thrill of it. Plz publish soon when bby no3 arrives ill have literally no time to enjoy it. Gd luck. Im sure itll be worth the wait :)

  34. Naima Asma

    March 5, 2015 at 5:03 AM

    I just re-read the whole story the past few days. The two things I’m most excited about is finding out about how Lena died and the true identity of the Partridge. I could be completely wrong though. Anyway, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Your writing style is captivating mashallah! :)

  35. Taban

    March 12, 2015 at 2:08 PM

    Asalaamualaikum brother what is the translation used of surah baqarah in ‘loin is born’

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      March 12, 2015 at 4:30 PM

      Taban, I don’t remember specifically, but I almost always use the Saheeh International translation (available at Quran.com). So that’s probably what is is.

  36. Mohamed

    April 2, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    Salaams brother Wael,

    Hope both you and your daughter are doing well in shaa Allah.

    I came across this Ernest Hemingway quote and wanted to share it with you. Hope it helps in shaa Allah.

    “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” — Ernest Hemingway

    • Umm habiba

      May 31, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      Wonderful piece of advice

  37. muminah

    May 19, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    Assalamu’alikum
    I have been waiting since last year
    n been looking for other parts of story….
    not able to find ;(
    this novel really hits me
    its an inspiration
    keep writing
    n plzz help me get other portion
    May Allah increase u in UA knowledge n may u be more productive for the 2 worlds Author

  38. Fatima

    July 31, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    Waiting for the next part of this story.

  39. Bahaar

    August 5, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    We will be patient – just wondering what happened to Alice… Might good to pick up that thread…..

  40. homayra

    December 20, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    brother…….bin waiting a long time. I check this every few months. I am a bookworm and sometimes I forget the names of stories and confuse the storylines……hassans tale stays unforgettable ! plz plz plz finish this….pretty plz with a cherry on top

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