An orphan and a miracle

I hear a voice calling my name: "Mojza!" His word pierces through my being as if to revive a corpse. He is calling me out of darkness, to come into the light. Surely, I have been in the throes of slumber for too long. The time has come for me to awaken and fulfill my calling. It is time to get up… "Here I am, Allah. Your servant is awake and listening."

Nadim – Wake up! Moe, wake up!

Moe – Oh… is it already morning? It feels like we haven't slept that long… Do you think that I can ask Allah for more time?

Nadim – Ha! Come on, Moe. I know that you're a walking miracle, but you can't just snap your fingers and make time disappear. It's time to show Allah how devoted you are to Him. Come and pray with me.

Don't let the appearances fool you. I enjoy doing my prayers. I truly revere Allah. And I'm certainly thankful for a faithful brother like Nadim. He is my closest companion. We share the same food, the same refreshments, the same room. I would even say that we share our very lives with each other. We pray together and we encourage each other to accomplish great things for Allah.

Nadim is an orphan, like me… well, kind of. His parents died when he was 6 years old. He remembers their voices, their loving embrace, their sharp discipline. He says that he can still feel his mother's kisses on his cheeks, and the rod of his father on his back. But, he has no regret. Allah does what He wills, and we must submit to Him. On the other hand, my parents were wiped away from history. You may wonder whether they were good people or not. Were they rich or poor? I do not know. Really, I don't. I have absolutely no recollection of them, much less since the great accident. That's where I got my name, Mojza. It means "miracle". That's kind of an ironic name. Some people think that I survived the attack because I had Allah's favor upon my life. But, I tend to think differently. It seems, rather, that I was not worthy of the greatest honor that can befall a servant of the Most Merciful. What could be better than to become a martyr for the most important cause of all? People give their lives to pursue greatness, to build their business, to achieve prestigious positions in society. They labor for rewards that will perish with time, but I labor for rewards that will never fade away. And yet, I will have to wait another day, another year, before my life is rescued from this evil world. Sure, Nadim keeps reminding me that I fought valiantly against the Lions of Rojava, and he insists that the only shame is that I keep lamenting my fate. However, I'm not convinced.

Moe – Allahu akbar

As I bow towards Mecca, my right knee reminds me of my misfortune. A sharp pain signals that my leg has not completely recovered from the injury caused by the explosion. I should have been better equipped. I should have been better prepared for the fight. I was told that 23 infidels were killed during the attack, but how much did I contribute? I don't remember hitting anyone. Some stray bullets may have hit a target, but I wouldn't know. At least, we made those infidels think twice about defending Kobani. How can they think that Allah is on their side when they have to enlist Americans to fight their battles? Allah will surely give us victory.

Moe – Subhaana rabbiyal-a'laa

Prostrate before Allah, the feeling of blood rushing through my head, I press my forehead against the ground. My posture declares that I am not worthy to look upon my Creator. So, I cover my hair, bow my head, and close my eyes. Nadim often says that Allah already knows the color of my eyes, so I don't need to remind Him. He gave me brown eyes, brown hair, and a fair skin to fool the infidels, and He gave Nadim deep blue eyes to remind us of the Paradise that is beyond this dark world.

Moe – Allahu akbar

How long have we been doing this? I can't even keep track of time anymore. It's like a part of me was lost in Kobani. An incapacitated mind, a stiff body, and a stammering tongue: a boy trapped in an expired body. Thankfully, my faithful companion fills in the gaps. He has become my teacher, my big brother, and my guide. What could I do without him? Above all, we share one thing in common: Unlike so many of our neighbors, we have remained faithful to Allah when so many have compromised the standards of Islam. What a travesty to live under the rule of infidels, under their laws, rather than the Law that was revealed from above. How can a man honor his master without obeying his commands? How can a woman honor her husband without submitting to his will? In the same way, it is impossible to give honor to Allah without submitting to Sharia Law. We are true Muslims. We are legitimate servants of Islam.

Nadim – Moe… Moe… Mojza! Hey, are you dead or what?

Moe – Huh… What is it?

Nadim – I said, it's time to go.

Moe – Go where?

Nadim – Haha! Oh, Moe! I love you, my brother. What would you do without me? Today is a special day. I've already told you, but apparently that mind of yours is playing tricks on you again. The great Shabir Ally, the defender of Islam, is coming to our Masjid! He just arrived from England and he's going to teach us how to prove that Islam is the one true religion. You need to take notes, my friend! You were born to infiltrate the infidels. Remember, that's why Allah gave you…

Moe – …a fair skin.

Nadim – Yes! Well done. And I have deep blue eyes because…

Moe – …we need to be reminded of Paradise.

Nadim – And the virgins, of course.

Moe – You think too much about them, I think.

Nadim – Really? I didn't know that you could think!

Moe – At least I still have all my hair. You may want to find a bigger taqiyah to cover your head, you know!

I love Nadim, but sometimes I would like to give him a good beating. But, it's all in good spirits. His grin is unmistakable. It acts like a shield against my fists. His skinny jaw could never take as much as mine… But, he's right; what could I do without him? I can't believe I forgot that this was the day that Shabir Ally was coming to our Masjid. I wish that my mind was sharper; then I would gain more from his instruction. I would love to advance the cause of Islam through the power of rhetoric. Thankfully, there are other people who have those kinds of talents, like Shabir Ally. How marvelous to have such an avid defender of Islam! Maybe someday I will also prove that all other gods and religions are false. There is no reason to be afraid of the enemies of Islam. The truth will speak for itself. The Qur'an is Allah's perfectly preserved Word, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah's messenger, and on the Day of Judgment, those who acknowledged these truths will be vindicated.

Nadim – Are you ready?

Moe – I'm almost done. Let me grab a few figs before I leave.

Nadim – You forgot to eat again! If you keep doing that, you'll end up like me.

Moe – That's a scary thought! I'd better grab a loaf of bread or two.

Nadim – Maybe we can pick some olives alongside the road.

Nadim knows me very well. He knows that I couldn't resist his offer. Is there anything better than fresh olives with a loaf of bread? After all, we were told that we could help ourselves to any of the produce of the land that we toil. That's one of the benefits of working on a farm that has one of the biggest olive groves in Syria. The land owner, Faruq, is a good man. He takes care of us as though we were his own sons. In exchange for our service, he provides lodging in this small cabin that we call home, gives us a modest salary, and allows us to take some of the fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Sure, I like the lentils, the leeks, and the potatoes; but, nothing is better than fresh olives. These bite-sized refreshments are perfect for travelers, since they can quench a man's thirst and nourish his body at the same time.

As we stepped outside our modest home, I noticed that the clouds still had a shade of pink lingering from the sunrise. The sky was beaming with light and yet the colors around us seemed more opaque than ever. Light pink over dark blue; the coolness of the ground tempered by the brightness of the sun; the long shadows of the trees and the choreography of the birds. What a beautiful sight! How great is Allah, that He would create such a world! How could we not admire such a multisensory mosaic of smells, shapes, colors, and flavors? Surely, Allah cares about His creatures. If human beings are able to appreciate the beauty of creation, how much more does the Creator delight in His masterpiece? After all, we only know in part and can only see beauty as it is perceived through our finite senses. Imagine if we could know the very essence of things!

Moe – Allah, You have made me glad by Your masterpiece; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy! How great are your endeavors, oh Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!

Nadim – How poetic and shamelessly anthropomorphic! Is that from a poem that you've read?

Moe – It comes from my heart. I can see the finger of Allah behind such beauty. Nadim, where do you think we can find the bridge between the Creator and His creation, if both are completely distinct?

Nadim – Did you fall on your head again?

Moe – Come on… just think about this. How can Allah reveal Himself to human beings except through the means of communication that we can understand? Wouldn't Allah want to use the language of creation, though imperfect, to reveal Himself to us?

Nadim – Arabic was a perfect language for that purpose, since Allah chose it to reveal the Qur'an to us.

Moe – I know that Allah has spoken to us, but even Arabic is a human language. Surely, you don't believe that Allah has lips and a tongue like we do, and literally speaks the same language as we do…

Nadim – Of course not…

Moe – Well, then, if Allah must penetrate our world to reveal Himself to us in creation – since we can only know Him through such means – we can't confine His revelation to a mere spoken and written human language. Couldn't He speak through the stars? Couldn't He use colors, smells, shapes, flesh and bones to reveal Himself to us? Couldn't He use the weak things of this world to display His majesty?

Nadim – I guess everything is weak in comparison to Him. But, there are certain places where He wouldn't go, because He cannot defile Himself.

Moe – Unless He came to purify the things that are defiled…

Nadim – I guess. But, there are some things that are just too bad to be fixed.

Moe – Even though Allah created them?

Nadim – Ah… you and your philosophy… Do you mind if I change the topic?

Moe – I don't have a choice, do I? Okay. What do you want to talk about?

My bewildered companion breathed a sigh of relief and shook his head at me, as an older brother might be amused by the probing questions of his younger sibling. As for me, I was slightly offended that he didn't want to dig deeper into these matters. But, I have to admit that those kinds of conversations are not for the faint of heart. They open the door to the unknown, and they require the use of brain cells that most people prefer to leave untouched. I would have to wait for another opportunity to satisfy my intellectual curiosity… and my spiritual appetite.

Nadim – Okay, Moe, since you like to argue, could you please tell me what is the greatest marker of the superiority of Islam?

Moe – Well…

Nadim – Wait! I'm not done. Let me give you some choices, to make it easy on you: Is it morality, the perfection of the Qur'an, or the quest for peace?

Moe – Come on! How do you expect me to choose between those options?

Nadim – Just choose one of them…

Moe – Morality.

Nadim – I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

Moe – What a surprise…

Nadim – The right answer was, "all of the above."

Moe – You didn't give me that option!

Nadim – You just need to think a little bit more! Haha…

Moe – Look who's talking!

Nadim – Why did you choose morality, anyways?

Moe – I don't know. It just seems like the most obvious one. When you compare the areas in the world that are influenced by Islam to those that are not, you clearly see that those influenced by Islam are superior: They uphold strong moral standards, they purge all kinds of perversions from society, and they honor their Creator. On the other hand, those who have not been influenced by Islam are full of idolatry, immorality, and denial of their Creator.

Nadim – Hmm… interesting.

Moe – Let me ask you this question: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Hindus? Answer quickly.

Nadim – I guess… idolatry; primitive behavior.

Moe – Good. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Atheists?

Nadim – Desecration; profanity.

Moe – Good! Now, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Christians?

Nadim – Immorality; oppression.

Moe – You see! Now, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Muslims?

Nadim – True Muslims?

Moe – Yes, true Muslims.

Nadim – Honor; reverence.

Moe – Is it not obvious, then? The influence of Islam upon a society surpasses any other religion or worldview.

Nadim – Okay, but you could use the same argument in regards to the Qur'an. It is just plainly superior to any other "holy book".

Moe – But, most people have not read all of those "holy books", so you can't use that argument with the common people.

Nadim – Have you read them?

Moe – No… have you?

Nadim – It doesn't matter. I don't need to read them. I just need to look into the Qur'an to know that it is perfect, and therefore nothing could be superior.

Moe – I guess you're right. What about the quest for peace?

Nadim – Well, it's obvious that those who are devout Muslims are at peace and don't worry about things that don't matter.

Moe – At least, they shouldn't… They're not always successful, you know.

Nadim – I maintain that true Muslims find peace when they devote their lives to Allah. It's a simple fact.

Moe – Okay! I abdicate! You're right. All of the above plainly reveal the superiority of Islam.

Nadim – Thank you very much! Listen and learn, my dear Mojza; listen and learn. Talking about the superiority of Islam… look in front of you!

Our conversation ended swiftly at the sight of our Masjid. We arrived earlier than scheduled in order to find some place to sit in front. We wanted to make sure that we would gain the most from this exciting meeting. As I looked around, I noticed that people were just starting to arrive. A few men were sitting outside the Masjid, drinking their coffee, stroking their beards, making conversation. There were also some women standing at a distance. Their conversation seemed livelier than the men's, chattering with such skill, holding the corner of their hijab close to their mouth as if they wanted to conceal a guilty smile. Just as we were taking our shoes off, Nadim grabbed my shoulder in excitement, pointing towards a man who was finishing his prayers. My heart immediately leaped for joy as I recognized the man in front of us.