Ramadhan In Sanford
The holy month starts while I am in Sanford, which has balmy spring weather. As usual, Allah bestows His mercy and tranquility settles on my fasting; the hunger pangs and thirst are easily endured, even when I hit the gym in the afternoons; I feel very little pain or discomfort. Wonderful.
Masjid al Hayy in Sanford always takes my breath away – it is a beautiful piece of architecture, especially on a cloudless day under a turquoise sky. The inside, however, sadly, has a forlorn look about it. It’s a shame to have such a gorgeous place of worship so underutilized. This changes somewhat with the iftars and visiting Sheikh Ayub’s to-the-point lectures, concentrating on self-purification rather than in the defense of Imam Ali’s (a) legitimacy as the heir of the Muslim ummah; that’s like singing to the choir. What a refreshing change from the majority of reciters who sing the same old rusting tunes.
The outside baraza makeup has not changed, with the same cronies schmoozing, smoking, transforming their lungs into chimneys, and further polluting the already precarious air we breathe. The pong going in and coming out of the masjid is nauseating. To me, it is a wonder how bad manners, uncouthness, and indifference can come together to make a person pollute just outside Allah’s house and then have the audacity to flick cigarette butts into the shrubs. Though he eats nutritious food to power his rational and cognizance. Mashaa’Allah. I guess it’ll take many generations for the likes of these to reform.
The interfaith dinner on March 29 at Al Hayy is packed with people from different faiths coming together and breaking bread. I have to park way beyond the mosque’s walled entrance and walk to the building, something I have never done in the past. It is, however, wonderful to see the crowds from many faiths and cultures sharing food and experiences. Except for the mouth-watering, tummy-rumbling chicken on the barbeque grill outside, which disappears faster than the blink of my eye. The time difference between my Sunni brethren breaking fast 10 minutes earlier than me, a Shia, is a game changer and I am left to fish for elusive chicken scraps in the alternative watery butter chicken gravy. Perhaps it is because some of my Shia brethren decide to show bhai-bhai solidarity with the Sunni folks and break fast earlier?
After salaat, it’s nafsa-nafsi, with hungry people totting heaved plates chasing and looking for a place to sit in the milling crowds. Among the swarms of people, I meet Alireza, Mullah Mchungu’s wayward son. He looks identical to the old man, without wrinkles and with a healthy head of hair. I can also tell who he is from the wall photo of him on the old hen’s home in Dar. He sits at a corner table with his adolescent son wolfing down two plumb delicious-looking barbecued thighs into his face. My tummy grumbles and I wonder if he’ll mind sharing one with me but I don’t have the nerve to ask. He might turn out to be as combative as Mullah in Dar. I do, however, want to talk to him about his aging and lonely father so I wait until they are both done and introduce myself.
Oh, he says, so you are the Kisukaali that Papa always talks about. Thank you for looking into him. I know he is not the friendliest of people so that is a task in itself.
When Alireza’s son moves away to play with friends, I advise him to try and call his father more frequently. I remind him that the old man is his father and lives alone, thousands of miles away, so needs to feel loved and cared about. Alireza is taken aback, I can see, and for a second, I feel I am in trouble, from the look of ire on his face. Perhaps he’ll tell me to mind my own business? But he smiles instead.
Kisukaali, he says, I appreciate the advice and your concern. My dad is not an amiable person, as you know. I had him visit here a few years ago and even offered to make him a permanent resident. So, we could all live together. But he lives in the ago, is rigid, and wants everything done his way. He does not want to change and cannot be pleased no matter what. It’s impossible, wa’Allahi. Nothing my wife or I can say or do will please him. It’s best if he remains in Dar. He has Hameesi to take care of him. He’ll be fine. I send him enough money. Every month.
I feel so sad. I want to tell Alireza that his father does not need the money but attention and respect. I want to remind him that his father has rights over him, both religious and otherwise. But I know I’ll be wasting my breath. So, I drop the subject and he talks about how good the barbecued chicken tasted while picking his teeth with a toothpick. He excuses himself and goes to try his luck at the fast-vanishing cheesecake that has a crowd of people waiting for their turn. I doubt it’ll last by the time it’s his chance. That, for some strange reason, gives me a pleasurable feeling. Strange, no?
New Novel – Excerpts
The manuscript of my new novel, the fifth to be published – Two Blue And Gold Diamond Earrings – is now complete. It took me a whole two years to research and write this fictional work. As you may already know, the proceeds of all my novels support the educational needs of about 770 CAI-sponsored global orphans; I take no gain from the book’s sales. This funding is critical for the education of our orphans. CAI is about to adopt another 200 – 250 orphans as a result of the devastating earthquakes in Syria. So, education funding for these hapless children now becomes even more critical.
Click HERE for a few excerpts from the novel for your reading pleasure, tempting you to purchase a copy or two or more. Even if you are not a fiction reader, or do not particularly fancy my writings, please consider pre-purchasing a copy or more (they can be a nice gift?) for the future of our orphans – click HERE to buy, priced at a modest US$77. Allah bless.
Note: My novels are works of fiction from my vivid imagination. Please do not assume that they are related to the work I do for CAI. They are also not religious works, as some had wrongly assumed from my past works – I am no authority on any religion. I love writing which is one way to pay for CAI’s orphans’ education.