The Future Of Secularism: Chapter 11


Come to think of it, that was really smooth. I mean sure, okay, once I read a travel brochure for Isfahan, and I don’t remember why, but I do remember it saying ‘Come See Isfahan -- Nisf-e Jahan(1). She, of course, being a wanna-be Persian (isn’t everyone?), found that to be the most beautiful thing in the world. 

Needless to say, within five minutes, we had left the stadium part of the world and I found myself in another part of the world: her black BMW. Well she was obviously spoiled. She told me her father was in the government. (I wanted to ask if he ever fairly lost an election, but I held my tongue).

Now thank God, I wouldn’t see any signs of Islam or any icons of any Islamic Republics in the BMW, but I still felt weird. She was so innocent. She held back a bit, the way she was talking: she was fidgety. I could tell she’d never been with a guy, and despite the front she put on -- about being all Westernized -- she was just a good girl that happened to be hot. So I felt bad for being alone with her. This was ridiculous! Every time I thought, God would enter my head, in some way, shape or form.

I had to stop thinking! If I stopped thinking, I’d have no thoughts of God. Or anything else. Hmm. Maybe this is why the scholars always told us to not be alone with girls. I never felt guilt with other girls, so maybe it wasn’t God. Maybe I felt guilty because she was so sweet.

"So," she asked, "What do you want to do?"

...maybe she wasn’t that sweet. God I could’ve had fun with that one. I stopped myself short, "Like after the Academy, right?" 

She smiled. I don’t think she realized what she had said, and how I took it. Well that was good. There was only one pervert in this relationship. I liked it better that way.

"Yeah, like, where do you see yourself in ten years?"

Insh Allah still in the BMW?

"In some university, somewhere."


Maybe she thought I meant that I was stupid, and would never get out of the Academy, so I quickly qualified it: "Yeah, I want to teach philosophy."

"Wow," she said. "That’d be so cool. You’d be a good teacher I think, everyone in class laughs when you talk."

Okay I could have taken that as an insult. "That’s nice, I guess..."

"No," she said, laughing, "Not like that silly. That’s when that other guy talks, we laugh at him. But you connect well with people. Do you do it on purpose? You could be a politician."

I was too confused about myself to ever answer that. All I could think about was how nervous I felt in her car. Was someone watching us? I hoped to God it wasn’t God. Why did the Arabs bring us this religion, that somehow managed to sneak into my mind at the oddest of times? If Khattab were here, he’d have said that that was because God wanted me to become religious. 

"I want to be a wife."

Well then.

"You know what you need to be a wife, right?"

I can’t believe I asked that.

"Yeah," she mumbled. Her smile was shy. She avoided my eyes. "A new BMW?"

I didn’t laugh because I was confused. Was she serious? Wouldn’t a girl just want a ring? But then again, the BMW made more sense. Plus it was far more expensive.

I didn’t know what to say, so I stopped thinking, leaned over and kissed her.

She drew backwards. She didn’t know what to do. But she didn’t step out of the car, or scream, or lob a grenade, or say a prayer, so I was safe (at least, until the Day of Judgment).

"Um, Hayy..." she fumbled for words. Her face was flushed. "I’ve never kissed a guy before."

"Don’t worry," I gently answered, pausing for dramatic effect. "I have."(2)

She erupted into laughter. "Really?"

"Yeah. Last Eid (3). Actually, he kissed me, I think. But I prefer girls." 

And so I demonstrated my preference. For quite some time, I might add.


1. Nisf-e Jahan means 'half the world' in Persian; it's how the Persians describe the beautiful city of Isfahan.

2. Ha! I'm not that predictable. You thought I was gonna say, "Don't worry, I haven't either" - but in this case I, as well as many other Muslims, have often kissed members of the same sex. Along with a Divine message, and a whole philosophy of life, Islam also spread the Arab custom of kissing on both cheeks

3. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are the two main Muslim holidays. The first celebrates the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The second, Eid ul Adha, commemorates Abraham's (peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (peace be upon him). It is also the day of the end of the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, the Hajj, which every able Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. On the Eid days, Muslims gather in the morning for a special prayer, and then a short sermon. It is a time for happiness and rejoicing, and each Muslim culture has its own special ways of celebrating it.

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