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Breakfast With The Khans [Act One] – A Play

As the Khan family sits down to breakfast on a Sunday morning, their youngest son arrives with an ill-mannered friend. Meanwhile, the elder son’s room smells strange, and a discovery is made.


breakfast with the khans

As the Khan family sits down to breakfast on a Sunday morning, their youngest son arrives with an ill-mannered friend in tow. Meanwhile, the elder son’s room smells strange, and a discovery is made.

This is Act one of a two-act play.

* * *

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Cast of Characters:

Abba (Dad): Mahmood, 50, architect, owns his own firm.
Ammi (Mom): Uzma, 40, fashion YouTuber.
Son #1, Ali: 17, moody & withdrawn.
Son #2, Jaber: 15, cheerful, plays baseball.
Son #2’s friend, Joey: 15, also on the baseball team.
Daughter, Hajar: 10, genius.
Abdullah: 38, from Rwanda. Mahmood’s nephew. Speaks very formally, with an accent.
Imam Salahuddin: Imam of local mosque. African-American.

Scene 1 – Atmospheric River

Setting: Kitchen of a suburban house. Late morning on a Sunday.

Hajar and Abdullah sit at the breakfast table while Abba makes pancake batter. Ammi stands beside him, watching. Abdullah reads the newspaper. Hajar types on two laptop computers at the same time (not in a comical way but at a measured pace, like someone who’s genuinely working on two projects at once).

Making pancake batter

AMMI to ABBA: Add more sugar.

ABBA: Babe, you asked me to make breakfast, I’m making breakfast. Do you want to do it?

AMMI: No, I’m only helping.

Abba takes his smartphone out of his pocket, glances at it, sets it on the counter and goes back to making the pancake batter.

ABDULLAH (reading the newspaper. Speaks with an African accent): There is another atmospheric river coming.

AMMI: Alhamdulillah! Rain is a barakah. The Prophet, sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam, used to always let some of the rain fall on him, even a few drops. And he said, “Two will not be rejected. The dua’ after the Adhan and the dua’ under the rain.”

ABBA: SubhanAllah. I didn’t know that.

ABDULLAH: We might get flooded. Back home in Rwanda some people raise their homes on stilts to prevent flooding, especially in the northwest. I saw them once, when I was quite young. The high houses one against the next, looking over the river like watchers, as if to warn against the rising water. Also, they put the electrical sockets high on the wall to prevent electrical damage in a flood. Do you do that in the buildings you design, Uncle?

ABBA (stirring the batter): No, but that’s fascinating. That’s a great idea about the sockets, actually.

HAJAR: We don’t get floods here, Abdullah Bhai. Why are you reading dead trees anyway?

ABDULLAH (laughs): Dead trees. There are interesting things in the newspaper.

HAJAR: Like what?

ABDULLAH: Well, one time a man saw an ad in a newspaper that said, “Talking cat, $10.” He thinks, “That is incredible! I have to see this.” He goes to the address, and there is an old yellow cat sitting in the sun. The man says, “Are you the talking cat?” To his amazement, the cat says, “Yes that is me.” … “Wow! So what is your story?”… “I was in a CIA program. They taught me to talk and sent me to Russia to be a spy. Then I retired and wrote a book. Now I lie in the sun and play chess games in my head.” … “That is incredible. I am going to buy you and make you famous.”… “Okay.” The man talks to the owner and asks, “Why are you selling this amazing cat for ten dollars?” … “Because,” the owner replies, “He is such a liar. He never did any of those things.”

Abba begins cooking the pancakes. He keeps checking his phone for messages.

HAJAR: (stops typing momentarily, looks at Abdullah) – That’s funny.

ABDULLAH: That is funny, she says. Uncle Mahmood, your daughter does not laugh. What kind of child does not laugh?

AMMI: She’s not ours. We found her in a basket in the forest with a note that said, “I will save the world.”

HAJAR: That’s funny, Ammi.

AMMI to ABBA: Turn down the heat, you’re going to burn them. Why do you keep looking at your phone?

ABBA: You know…the big job.

AMMI: I thought they said they’d get back to you by the middle of next week.

ABBA: Yeah, but I can’t help it. This job would change everything for us.

AMMI: Turn the pancakes over.

ABBA: Babe! Let – me – do – it.

AMMI: Acha, acha.

Scene 2 – All The Way To Bugatti

Jaber calls out from stage right:

JABER: I have company!

AMMI: It’s fine, come in.

From stage right, Joey rushes in with his non-Muslim friend Joey, talking and laughing. Both are wearing baseball uniforms. They drop their baseball gloves on the kitchen table.

JABER: As-salamu alaykum my *most unusual* (in a bad English accent) family. Oh, yes! We’re having pancakes!

Jaber and Joey do a complicated handshake with a mimed explosion at the end.

AMMI: Shoes at the door! You know better!

JABER: Acha, sorry.

JOEY: I’m not taking mine off.

ABBA: (still cooking pancakes and piling them on a platter) – Sorry son, in this house you have to.

JOEY: *Most unusual*.

Jaber and Joey take off their shoes.

AMMI: Who’s your friend?

JABER: This is Joey, he’s our third baseman. You should see him hit! (Mimes hitting a baseball). Pow! Going, going, gone! All the way to Bugatti!

HAJAR: Bugatti is a French race car.

JOEY: (laughs mockingly) French! Whoever heard of a French race car? You’re a dummy.

JABER: Don’t call my sister names. If Hajar says it’s French, she’s right. She’s ten times smarter than you are.

JOEY: Whatever.

ABBA: Hello Joey.

JOEY: What’s up, bro?

Ammi and Abba exchange a look.

ABBA: Mr. Khan. Not bro.

JOEY: Whatever.

ABBA: No, not whatever.

JOEY: Okay… Mr. Khan.

JABER: Why does Hajar get two laptops anyway? Can I get a Nintendo Switch?

ABBA: We can’t afford that right now. Anyway, you have a smartphone, she doesn’t.

AMMI: Both of you wash your hands with soap, and Jaber, go tell your brother to come down for breakfast.

JABER: Do I have to? His room always smells like dirty socks. *Most unusual.*

Abba points with one finger in a way that says, “Go do it.” The boys leave the kitchen, taking their baseball gloves, and exiting stage left.

Scene 3 – Islam Is A Process

ABBA: I’m not sure about this Joey kid.

Maple syrupAMMI (setting the table with glasses, napkins and silverware, butter, and syrup): You have to give people a chance. Our whole faith is predicated on the idea that people can change. Even just being human is a process of transformation. Do you remember what your apartment was like when I first met you?

ABBA: Yeah, the landlord almost kicked me out because it was so dirty.

AMMI: Yet you changed. Allah moves in ways we don’t understand. Who knows why He brought this boy to our doorstep?

ABDULLAH: You are very wise, Auntie.

AMMI (Setting juice and milk cartons on the table): I’ve told you a hundred times, don’t call me Auntie, I’m the same age as you. Just call me Uzma.

Abba picks up his phone again, checks it. Ammi goes to him, takes his arm.

AMMI: Meri Jaan, my love, what is it? They’ll call when they call.

ABBA: I know. It’s just…I might have to lay off a few people at the office. Janet. Maybe even Waseem.

AMMI: It’s that bad?

ABBA: The rent’s gone up. Insurance. We had to upgrade the software, and that’s not cheap.

HAJAR (pauses in her typing): Are we going to be poor?

AMMI (kisses her daughter’s head): We could never be poor. We have Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we have our deen, and we have each other.

Jaber and Joey return from stage left. Joey sits down and begins to eat ravenously.

JABER: No, wait, dude. We all eat together.

JOEY: But I’m hungry.

JABER: Just wait.

Joey snorts in disgust but stops eating.

ABBA: Where’s your brother?

JABER: He says he’s not hungry. And his room smells *most unusual*.

HAJAR: Why do you keep saying that? And can’t you talk about anything except how Ali’s room smells?

JABER: No, it’s not dirty socks. It smells weird. You know? (Jaber mimes smoking a cigarette).

ABBA: Are you serious?

JABER: Allahu a’lam. You didn’t hear it from me.

ABBA: I’m going to kill him. (Walks away rapidly, exiting stage left).

AMMI (calling after him): Don’t do anything rash! He’s still your son.

Scene 4 – Emerging Technologies

JOEY (to Hajar): Hey girl. How can you type on two computers? Are you faking it?

HAJAR (pauses in her typing): On one I’m writing code for a natural-language search engine for the Quran.

JOEY: The what?

JABER: Our holy book. The words of God. It’s a very cool book. Hajar knows the whole thing by heart, ma-sha-Allah.

JOEY: Whoa! That’s nuts.

HAJAR: The app uses AI chat technology. The idea is that you can ask a question, like, “Why was Prophet Yusuf sent to prison?” And the app will find the answer.

ABDULLAH: That is truly genius. This is what Muslims need. To use emerging technologies in service of the deen. We should all be looking for ways to use our unique talents in that way. I am proud of you.

HAJAR (grinning): Thank you!

JOEY: What about the other computer?

Ms Pac ManHAJAR: I’m playing Ms. Pac Man.

AMMI: Abdullah, you’re right. We should all do something to make a difference. I mean, I make Youtube videos teaching women how to apply makeup. But what good am I really doing in the world? I make money from it but I sometimes feel like it’s pointless.

JABER: You’re a good mom.

JOEY: And your makeup looks good.

AMMI: Thanks.

HAJAR: Imam Salahuddin says that we Muslims either fear and condemn new technologies, or we right away want to use them to enrich ourselves.

AMMI: Ouch. That hits close to home.

An uncomfortable silence follows.

Scene 5 – We Don’t Lie

Shouting is heard offstage (from stage left) between Abba and the eldest son, Ali. Abba returns to the kitchen from stage left, dragging Ali by the arm. He pushes Ali down into a chair at the table, and tosses a vaping pipe onto the table.

ABBA: It’s true! Your son is smoking. He’s been lying to us for months. I should have known. He has no appetite, his room always smells strange, he stays out late… (To Ali): We don’t lie in this house, young man. We don’t deceive each other. Wa tawasaw bil-haq, remember? Surat Al-Asr. We recite it every day. Strive together for truth.

ALI: It’s only vaping. E-cigarettes. It’s nothing.

HAJAR: Vapes contain high levels of nicotine, which means they are as addictive as cigarettes. They also contain some of the same chemicals found in cigarette smoke, and metal particles too. Lung damage is common among vapers.

ALI (leaps to his feet, shouting): Who asked you? You don’t always have to know everything, Hajar! I didn’t ask you!!!

ABBA (loudly): Sit down and stop yelling at your sister!

Hajar bursts into tears and runs from the room, exiting stage left. Ammi goes to Ali, pats him on the back, speaks gently:

AMMI: Beta, your sister cares about you.

ALI: She’s a robot.

AMMI: She is how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) made her. She loves you.

ALI (miserably):  I know.

AMMI: Go apologize to her and bring her back.

Ali leaves the room, exiting stage left. Abba stands with arms crossed.

Scene 6 – I Live Alone

ABBA (speaking to his wife angrily): So we’re not going to talk to him about the smoking?

AMMI: Of course we are. I’m furious. But all in due time. The food’s on the table.

ABBA: Joey, does your family know you’re here?

JOEY: I don’t have family.

ABBA: What do you mean?

JOEY: My mom died when I was a baby. My dad works offshore for British Petroleum. He pays the bills but mostly I live alone.

ABBA: You can’t live alone. You’re, what, fifteen? It’s illegal.

JOEY: I’m emancipated.

ABDULLAH: What is that?

Ali and Hajar return from stage left, standing side by side. She sniffles and wipes away tears.

HAJAR: Emancipation is a legal process by which a probate court judge declares a minor to be legally independent.

ABDULLAH: How strange. In my country you would live with a relative. You would not need to be “emancipated.” Even adults live with their parents. Sometimes four generations live under one roof. Not because of poverty, but because that is what a family is.

JOEY: (shrugs) – So? I don’t give a –

ABBA: Hey! Watch it. We don’t allow bad language in this house.

AMMI: Everyone sit.

Scene 7 – Mealtime Dua’

Breakfast foods on a tableAMMI: Ali, say the mealtime dua’.

ALI: Let Jaber do it.

AMMI: I asked you.

Ali raises his hands in dua’, as does everyone else.

ALI: بِسْمِ اللهِ… اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِيمَا رَزَقْتَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Bismillah. O Allah! Bless us in what You have provided us with and protect us from the punishment of the Fire. O Allah, bless our family and our visitors, and have mercy on the suffering Muslims of the world.


Everyone begins to eat. Joey pauses, looks around.

JOEY: Hey. Can I tell you guys something?

AMMI: Sure, Joey.

JOEY: Most people kick me out by now.

HAJAR: What do you mean?

JOEY: I visited a couple of my friends’ families. They made me leave.

AMMI: We won’t kick you out.

JOEY (sadly): I think you will, eventually.

HAJAR: We won’t kick him out, will we Abba?

Everyone looks to Abba.

ABBA (chuckles and shakes his head): No. We won’t kick him out.

Jaber and Joey grin and do their complicated handshake.

* * *

Next: Breakfast With The Khans, Act Two


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

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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



  1. Abdullah Salman

    February 15, 2023 at 9:12 PM

    Salaam brother Wael. I was wondering whether I should start my story off with the protagonist having a nightmare about his trauma but I feel like that would be cliche. Since you wrote an action hero in Hassan Amir, do you have any tips

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 15, 2023 at 9:40 PM

      Abdullah, first comment on the play, then I’ll answer your question, heh heh.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 17, 2023 at 11:07 AM

      In any case Abdullah, my answer is, do not start your story with either a nightmare or a flashback. Both are no-nos in fiction. Root your character in the present moment, start with something dramatic or exciting, and let us get to know the character before throwing in flashbacks or dreams.

      See this very good article on Writer’s Digest –

      I never stop studying the craft of writing, by the way, and Writer’s Digest is a good resource.

  2. Jamaal

    February 15, 2023 at 9:31 PM

    LOL, the line:


    cracked me up.

  3. Abu taalib

    February 16, 2023 at 8:05 AM

    Love it!

    This isn’t done enough, we need to see more of these Muslim family stories that are struggling with day to day issues!

  4. Abu taalib

    February 18, 2023 at 11:39 AM

    Im always looking for muslim fiction novels for young adults. Yours is now on my list! Another one I like is Sophia journal time warp 1857 by nadjiah helwani. Can you recommend others?

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 18, 2023 at 12:18 PM

      This might be a bit dated, but I enjoyed She Wore Red Trainers. The ending is too abrupt, but aside from that it was a fun read.

  5. bespectacled

    February 20, 2023 at 7:17 PM

    Enjoyed, as usual. Each character really pulls their weight. I’m curious about the family’s background, since cousin Abdullah is Rwandan but the last name and honorifics signaled South Asian to me. My only criticism is the slight clunkiness in the boys’ dialogue. It’s hard (though obviously not impossible) to imagine a 15-year-old saying Masha Allah to their non Muslim friend. Things like Joey saying “I visited other kids’ families a couple of times. They made me leave.” could be something more like “I’ve gone over to my other friends houses and they always kick me out”.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 20, 2023 at 7:23 PM

      This is valuable feedback, thank you.

      The contradiction between the family’s South Asian (Pakistani) origins and Abdullah’s Rwandan nationality will be explained in the next act.

  6. Shoaib

    February 20, 2023 at 9:37 PM


    #Joey’s line at the end blew me away… what a set up, and what a twist! I’m so curious to learn more about what’s going on inside Joey. Seems like he was intentionally acting out to test this family out. The number one thing I can’t wait to read in the next act is where his character arc leads. I also love the moment of tension where everyone looks at Abba. When he finally says, “No we won’t throw him out,” I felt so much affection for Abba. He is a complex character — he comes off as conflicted with him worrying about his job and constantly checking his phone and reacting angrily at his son for smoking and his annoyance with Joey’s bad manners. But that line “No we won’t throw him out” just betrays his true nature deep down as one full of love and compassion.

    #Abdullah the Rwandan nephew’s curiosity and grounded-ness serves as a nice foil to Hajar’s ivory-tower bookishness and the grand aspirations tied to her of saving the world. I love his remarks about stilts holding up a home to protect against floods. I wonder if that remark is a metaphor for the theme of this story — family as a support to protect against the flood of society’s vices. I see this in Ali and smoking — having him chase after Hajar demonstrates that while Ali is afflicted by society’s dangers, his relationship with his sister brings him back to safety. I dunno if I’m reading too much into it, but that’s the deeper meaning I took from this piece. Consider reinforcing this theme in other ways if that is what you were intending. Maybe instead of pancakes, Abba can be struggling to assemble a multi-layered cake or something to reinforce the idea of support.


    #Ammi’s preachy dialogue was a turn-off for me.

    #I couldn’t figure out the purpose of some of the side dialogue such as the CIA bird and the significance of Hajar playing Pac Man or the part about how Muslims should interact with technology.

    All in all, a very provocative first act. What a pleasure to read, thank you! Looking forward to the second act.

  7. Wael Abdelgawad

    February 20, 2023 at 10:57 PM

    Shoaib, this is a brilliant comment. I’m going to incorporate some of your observations into the story, inshaAllah.

    Oh, and some things – like Abdullah’s joke, or the chat about emerging technologies – don’t have any deeper meaning. They’re there for entertainment value, or because it’s something I was contemplating when I wrote the piece.

  8. Abu taalib

    February 23, 2023 at 12:48 AM

    I think the story about the bird was a joke right…which I found quite entertaining. It reflects the characters dry sense of humour.

    I really appreciate the references to emerging tech, I work in the field NLP so to see it great to these kind of the these being mentionioned and how Muslims are actively involved with it to benefit the ummah.

    This is a side note, techology is not discussed enough on Muslim platforms however it effects our daily lives. And so many muslims are making positive contributions in the field and many others…The golden era of Islam never stopped, we just stopped speaking about Muslim discoveries.

  9. Khalida

    March 10, 2023 at 9:20 AM

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum, Brother Wael:

    Since you wanted feedback…
    To be honest, the title wasn’t appealing at first and seemed cliche but it was interesting enough! However, the story itself is not cliche to me and is interesting, with several emerging plot and character conflicts reflecting modernity. I now see that the play’s title is well-suited. I initially assumed the story is about a Pakistani or Indian family; I am still unsure and became curious when Abdullah and Imam SalahudDeen’s backgrounds were mentioned at the start of the play. I really like that there is a SalahudDeen in the play!

    Thank you.

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