Forced to flee
Truth cannot be broken. Evil men may try to destroy it, and it may be obscure to those who are misguided, but it still remains the same. It is anchored in the character of Allah. It flows from His unchanging essence and judges every created thing. It knows the human heart without partiality and leaves it bare in the sight of His perfect holiness. Truth exposes error and sin, but also attests to the way of life. Those who pursue it are wise. Those who find it find life.
It has been only five weeks since my conversation with Shabir Ally, but it feels like months have gone by! Since the day of my humiliation, I have been determined to find the truth. Yes, I have been relentless in my pursuit, knowing that there is no greater quest, whether it be in this life or in the afterlife. No stones have been left unturned. All angles have been explored. All possibilities have been considered. And, in the process, I have ruffled some feathers. People just don't seem to realize how important this is. They don't like to be disturbed from their slumber. They don't like to be vulnerable. They don't want to know why they believe what they believe. I tried to convince myself to think like they do, but to no avail. "Just leave it… Don't think about these things… Ignore that small but unmistakable voice that prompts you to ask questions…" I'm sorry, but I just can't do that! It would be dishonest. Besides, wouldn't it prove that I lack faith in Allah if I were afraid to pursue the truth? Do I really believe that the truth is on our side? If it is, then it will be made manifest; if it isn't, then I must find it.
Sadly, it's appalling to see how people react to the most basic questions. When I try to find out how the sayings of Muhammad were compiled into what we know today as the Qur'an, the elders warn me against undermining the faith of my fellow Muslims. When I try to find out the root of key words used in the Qur'an like "Messiah", "Prophet", "Paradise", and "Hell", my teachers advise me not to pay attention to the pagan background of these theological concepts. When I ask my neighbors how they know that other religions aren't true, they call into question my commitment to Islam instead of exploring the truth. When I ask my friends if they have read the Injil or if they even know what the Injil is, they spew out indignant rhetoric instead of engaging the conversation. Even Nadim shuts his ears as though ignorance would prevail against doubt. Those types of reactions are too common to ignore. What a shame! I'm not sure if I want to weep or shake people out of their stupor…
Moe – Nadim, do you have a minute?
Nadim – Oh, great! Here it goes again… Let me guess, you've been doing a lot of thinking lately and you want to talk about these things…
Moe – Come on, Nadim! Are you a good student of Islam, or not? I am doing nothing more than going back to the source. The closer you get to the source, the closer you get to the truth. And the closer you get to the truth, the closer you get to Allah.
Nadim – What kind of logic is that?
Moe – Just listen for a minute. Everything that we have in the physical world is but a shadow of the spiritual realities as Allah knows them. There is no other way to know those spiritual realities. So, the more you understand the way in which Allah used human words and human concepts to reveal Himself and His truth to men and women, the closer you will be to Allah.
Nadim – Sure. Whatever you say.
Moe – Okay. The point is that you cannot know anything about Allah apart from studying the means that He has chosen to reveal His truth to us.
Nadim – Great! Then, just study the Qur'an!
Moe – Yes, but the Qur'an didn't come in a vacuum! It came in a particular historical context, in a particular geographical area, in a particular vernacular, as a polemic against particular religions! I think that we would be dishonest not to study the reality in which, to which, and through which Allah speaks.
Nadim – You know, Moe, if we didn't share this cabin, I definitely would never invite you to have these kinds of discussions.
Moe – Well, I'm glad that you are my prisoner, then…
Nadim – Haha… don't mind if I rest my eyes for a while. You've got my undivided attention. I swear.
Moe – You shouldn't lie. Allah is of the truth.
Nadim – Uh-hmm…
Moe – Okay, let me give you an example. The Qur'an itself describes what is wrong about those who believe in foreign gods. For instance, it rebukes Christians for saying that there are three.
Nadim – And that's all you need to know. How silly to say that there are three gods.
Moe – Well, they don't say that there are three gods. They believe that there is only one true God. But, they believe that there are three sub-distinctions in Allah.
Nadim – Where did you get that idea?
Moe – Shabir Ally told me that…
Nadim – And where did he get that idea?
Moe – From studying the Christian beliefs…
Nadim – But, what does the Qur'an say?
Moe – It forbids that we should say that there are three.
Nadim – Okay. So, who are those three?
Moe – Allah, Jesus, and…
Nadim – And… whom?
Moe – Huh… I have some notes here. Just wait a second; let me read my notes. Surah 5:73 says, "They have certainly disbelieved who say, 'Allah is the third of three.' And there is no god except one God…" Oh, there it is! Surah 5:116 says, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'"
Nadim – So, the three are Allah, Jesus, and Mary. Wow. What stupidity!
Moe – I guess that's what they call the "Trinity".
Nadim – How can Jesus and Mary be compared to Allah? And, what did you say that Christians call them? Substances? Sub… something…
Moe – Let me look it up. Shabir Ally said something else… but I can't remember.
Nadim – You make it sound like Shabir Ally is crazy like you are. Maybe you should start a crazy club: Everyone who despises his life can come and join you. Membership fees are low because you won't live long to enjoy it!
Moe – Real funny… let me do a quick search on the computer. What would we do without the Internet?
Nadim – The moment of truth…
Moe – Okay. This website says that the word "substance" is not a good word, that it is better to use the word "persons" or "subsistences". That's the one! Subsistences. Because the three are co-dependent and cannot exist apart from one another. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Huh… what?
Nadim – You mean, Mary, right?
Moe – No. It says Holy Spirit… What is that? Is that another name for Mary?
Nadim – Haha! Yeah, because she wasn't human, right! She was a spirit! Maybe she'll come back to haunt us. You never know. You can never be too careful.
Moe – Hold on… no… this has nothing to do with Mary…
Nadim – So, the Christians changed their view of the Trinity?
Moe – I guess so. Maybe there are other Christians who believe that Mary is a god and have a different view of the Trinity…
Nadim – Well, the Bible was corrupted anyways. It doesn't really matter.
Moe – Actually, it does matter. We want to faithfully represent the beliefs of Christians if we are to refute them. That's the context which the Qur'an addresses. The Qur'an makes reference to the Bible and to the beliefs of Christians, engaging in a polemic against them. And, we want to do the same.
Nadim – I think that you should just drop it. Let it go! Christians don't even agree! They fight all the time. Their doctrines don't make sense. They can't even understand each other.
Moe – Well, complexity does not necessarily equate error. However, complexity does produce confusion, and hence disagreements. Besides, Allah is beyond human comprehension. It makes sense that it would be hard to understand a human concept that tries to explain what Allah is in His spiritual essence.
Nadim – Sure, but I don't see Muslims fighting about who Allah is. We fight about other things, it's true, but not that. It's quite simple: Allah is one. That's it. End of the discussion. Very simple.
Moe – Too simple…
Nadim – Yes. Too simple.
Moe – But, we don't really know what Allah is.
Nadim – Okay! Our conversation is over! I'm sick of this nonsense.
Moe – Hey, I'm just using reason and logic. I'm simply going to the source and being a good student of Islam.
Nadim – Yes, and if you continue like that, you'll get your head chopped. You know, people are talking. You've been stirring up a lot of trouble lately. You may just want to be quiet for some time.
Moe – Who's been talking?
Nadim – Many people.
Moe – Name one person.
Nadim – Abdul ibn Jabbar.
Moe – What! Who cares what he says? He's the vilest pig I've ever known!
Nadim – You'd better watch your language. Abdul works for the Islamic State. He's been very active and he's gaining a lot of power. They like him.
Moe – They like him? He's a child molester! You know what he did to those Yazidi girls!
Nadim – I am not in a position to judge. Besides, he's coming here tonight. He should be here any moment. Maybe he can join our delightful conversation…
Moe – What! What do we have to do with him?
Nadim – Like I said, he's gaining a lot of power with the Islamic State. And if we, faithful Muslims, want to have our share of Allah's rewards, we have to work with these brothers.
Moe – Oh, you make me sick. I have to use the washroom.
I can't believe that Nadim invited Abdul to come and visit us. What are we supposed to talk about? We have nothing in common. He is driven by his lusts and justifies any atrocity by claiming that he is fighting for Allah. What a hypocrite. He claims to be revolted against Western countries for being sexually promiscuous, but he commits even worse sexual sins… he is just as filthy as they are, but he just won't admit it.
Oh… I think that I heard a knock. Great. He's here. Now, I can't leave. And, I certainly can't stay in here all night. I don't see any escape holes anywhere… just that small window. Do I even fit in there? Maybe I could climb out and escape into the night, spend some time in personal reflection, perhaps even visit the coffeehouse for some good conversations. I could sit in a comfortable chair, drink a nice cup of coffee, share some laughs with some of the men. That would be a lot better than having fellowship with a man infested with demons. Let me guess: he'll be condescending, angry, proud, boastful, and patronizing. Great company.
Moe – Allah, give me strength to confront him. Don't let me be a coward.
As I entered the living room, I saw a man who looked like he was on a mission. He was not even sitting down. There he stood, beside the canopy where Nadim seemed to cower. He wasn't even wearing the traditional robe. Instead, he was dressed in a kind of military uniform, with camouflage pants, heavy brown boots, and a thick vest. His arms were crossed and his chest was puffed up. He might have had more dignity if his beard wasn't as patchy as Nadim's hair. I must admit that it wasn't the prettiest sight, but it sure left the impression that this was a show of power.
Abdul – Well, hello…
Nadim – Abdul, let me introduce you to a walking miracle… This is Mojza.
Abdul – So, there he is, the great wonder! You're the one they call Mojza?
Moe – That's me.
Abdul – I heard that you've stirred up the whole village. Apparently you've been sharing some strange ideas with people…
Moe – There's nothing wrong with engaging in deeper conversations.
Abdul – No… you've been playing with fire. That's not a good idea. You can't play with fire without eventually getting burned.
Moe – What do you want?
Abdul – I've received a complaint against you, and I think that it's serious enough for me to investigate personally. You see, I have a lot of important things to do. Allah has been very gracious to me. He has seen the sincerity of my heart and has elevated me to positions of power. He has given me many responsibilities and tasks to accomplish. This means that I have to be selective about how I spend my time, and with whom I spend my time.
Moe – You think too highly of yourself.
Nadim – Moe!
Abdul – Ouch… And he's insolent, too! Well, I heard that you weren't so brave in Kobani. It's easy to say big words, but it's a lot more difficult to accomplish great things for Allah.
Moe – Raping women and satisfying your sexual desires on little girls… that's not what I would call "accomplishing great things for Allah".
Abdul – Rape? No one said anything about rape. It's an act of conquest! We take possession of the land for Allah, and Allah gives us the plunder. He's giving us our virgins, just like He will give us more virgins in Paradise. Besides, would you say the same thing of our beloved Prophet Muhammad? That might be your death sentence, you know…
Moe – I doubt that the greatest servant of Allah acted like you do; Allah doesn't approve of men who act like savage animals.
Nadim – Moe! Are you out of your mind? Don't dig a hole that you can't get out of…
Abdul – It's okay, Nadim. Mojza needs to learn a lesson. Besides, we need to know what's really in his heart. He may look like a good Muslim when he's doing his prayers, but there's something in him that doesn't look right. He smells like a kafir to me... By the way, Moe, what were you really doing in Kobani? You didn't slaughter any kafirs, did you? How do I know that you weren't working for the enemy? Maybe you didn't really lose your memory… maybe you just don't want to remember.
Moe – If there's anyone who needs to learn a lesson, it's you, Abdul! You're worse than all the infidels that I know. You abuse people and claim that you are doing Allah's will. You're a hypocrite! If you really honored Allah, you would act justly, you would defend the weak, you would be kind to those who are misguided…
Abdul – Haha! Where did you learn all of this nonsense? What Qur'an are you reading? My Qur'an says that if the infidels won't submit, they should be slaughtered. My Qur'an says that the only way to bring peace is through the supremacy of Islam. So, who's the hypocrite? It sounds like you're unwilling to join in the fight. It sounds like you love the kafirs more than you love the authority of Allah.
Moe – Let me ask you this, Abdul: If there were no disbelievers to assault, who would satisfy your lusts? Don't tell me that you would suddenly become a better person. Don't pretend that you could suddenly control your urges…
Abdul – Listen to me, you little maggot! If there were no kafirs, all the women would be covered with full burqas. They wouldn't stir up anyone's sexual desires, and we wouldn't need to force anyone into submission. Everything would be perfect and you would be put to shame for your foolishness.
Moe – I doubt it. Are you telling me that little girls stir up your sexual desires before they even reach puberty? You're a sick individual… You are perverted to the very core of your being. You use these people as an excuse to gratify the lusts of your flesh, but it's a lie. You're the problem, not them! Maybe Allah needs to teach you a lesson through their hands! I pray that more Americans will come with their jets and blow up your house…
Oh no… Did I just say that? Oh, no. I went too far. I can't believe that I said that. Oh, I can't take it back… Just breathe, Moe, just breathe. Don't lose it. Stop the conversation before you get accused of being a traitor. Don't give him ammunition. Why did this jerk have to come here anyways? Why can't we just get rid of these people who give Islam a bad name? What is he going to do? He's not saying anything. He's just looking at me, but he's obviously plotting something in his mind. His eyes are so evil. They're so dark and domineering. Even his smile looks evil. It's deceptive. He finds his joy in hurting people, rather than helping them. He is vile and ugly. Even his smell is repugnant! But, he doesn't care… he's not here to make people feel comfortable; he's here to make everyone's life miserable, in the name of Allah!
Oh, there it comes… he's wagging his finger… one chubby finger. His eyes are darting in my direction as he is trying to intimidate me. His posture insists that he believes in his own authority. He really thinks that he has the right to pronounce judgment over me and over all who oppose him. He's the law! Forget about justice. In our day and age, we must face the wolves.
Abdul – You'll regret that… Your own words will condemn you. I will make sure of it. I'm sorry, Nadim, but I can't eat with this infidel. I'll be back, though…
Nadim – Abdul, can't we just forget…
Abdul – Forget! Oh, I see how it works… whenever Mojza screws up and reveals his true allegiance, let's just forget about it! I'm sorry, but justice must be served. I'm beginning to see a pattern here. I think that he's starting to corrupt you, Nadim. You should put an end to his misery before he drags you down with him.
Nadim – That's not what…
Abdul – Whatever… You'll hear from me; I promise you.
I feel nauseous… I feel dizzy… Finally, it's over. He's gone. Why don't I feel better, though? I feel like my knees can't hold me anymore. My hands are shaky. My stomach is turned inside out. I feel like I need to go to the washroom. I'm such a wimp. I want to cry and I want to shout. I want to beg for mercy and I want to call for justice. What have I done? Allah, please help me! I know that I just placed Nadim in a very awkward situation. I wonder what he thinks of me now… I don't want him to reject me. I don't want to cause him trouble. I just want to go back in time, erase this incident, and go on with our lives as it was before all of this happened. Nadim isn't even looking at me. He's just holding his head with his two hands, sitting by the wall with his legs bent, as though he was trying to hide. I'm finished…
Nadim – Moe…
Moe – I'm sorry. I shouldn't have…
Nadim – You're going to get in trouble. You're going to get us in trouble. I bet he's going to stir up hatred and turn people against us…
Moe – I know… I'm sorry…
Nadim – You have to leave. You can't stay here. I don't want a mob coming to torch our place tonight. I don't want to be woken up by an angry crowd storming into our home with machetes and stones. You have to go away until you make things right again…
Moe – What are you saying?
Nadim – I love you, Moe… but I don't want to die… and I don't want you to die, either.
Moe – Just like that? That's it?
Nadim – It's already gone too far. Lay your head down for a while. Let things cool off a bit. You can call me and I'll let you know how things are over here. But, we can't take the risk of you staying here to find out.
Moe – Where will I go?
Nadim – I don't know. I don't want to know.
Moe – But, Nadim, how can I…
Nadim – Do you trust Allah? Do you trust that He will guide you to the right place?
Moe – I can't… what if…
Nadim – Go now, before it's too late!
So, is this how it's going to end? My life is over. Where will I go? Whom do I have in this world? Who cares about me? My best companion has just rejected me. If I leave, I'm not coming back. Abdul isn't going to allow that to happen. Oh, what a fool I've been! What is wrong with me? This is obviously the work of Shaytan. The devil has been laying these traps for me. He put these thoughts in my mind because he didn't want me to serve Allah. He turned everyone against me, and now there's no going back. What's the point in even packing anything? Let's just grab my shoes and go. Maybe I should take a loaf of bread… I should take some money, too. What will happen to all my stuff? Will I ever see these things again? I wonder what will happen to Nadim. Will he get in trouble when I'm gone? What should I say?
Moe – I'm sorry, Nadim… I truly am.
Nadim – So am I.
Moe – Ma'a salama.
Nadim – Yeah… Insha'Allah.
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