The Future Of Secularism: Chapter 28


I went to see a movie. I picked up Muhammad and Ahmad, promising to drop them home after we ate a meal and caught the eleven o’clock show (at night, of course).

The movie was about an ancient curse that was resurrected (accidentally) by a well-meaning historian, his wife, and their sweet child. The effects were fantastic - thank God we Muslims got a handle on those computer graphics - and overall it was a good time we spent out, just watching a fight versus good and evil. Such films easily amused me. I didn’t go in expecting more than something mildly entertaining.

The actress had golden hair.

The color of her hair, my first, from a long time ago... thoughts of Sophia faded beside her. I left the movie in a good mood, but after dropping my friends home, happiness melted into melancholy. What did she think of me? I didn’t even talk to her anymore. She was ages and ages ago (only a few years ago). The magic that never ended had ended. I was afraid she had forgotten about me.

I couldn’t get over the fact that my innocence was lost (I could be innocent again, couldn’t I?). I couldn’t get over the fact that she was the first girl I kissed; yet she wouldn’t be mine again. 

I dream too much and dreaming can be a sin, too. I am not weak, I am just a visionary, but like all us Muslims, I can’t remember which way we’re supposed to be dreaming. Am I seeking an old future, or a young past?

When I came home, I quickly went to the bathroom and did my ablution (wudu). In the darkness of my room, I prayed to God, and sat on the prayer rug afterwards, just thinking. I turned my stereo on, to a reasonable volume (so my parents wouldn’t hear), and listened to Qur’an. Was going out with girls wrong, I wondered?

I knew being alone with them and touching them wasn’t right. But arranged marriages just didn’t work anymore. We needed a new, though still Islamic, way of dealing with this. In our age, we couldn’t hope for the past.

Yet we feared the future. I did, because approving this to myself - what did it mean? What kind of future was I leaving for my children? Or would they long for the past I abandoned, as well?  

I was feeling thirsty so I went (quietly) downstairs to the kitchen, and made myself chocolate milk. I gazed over at the counter, and saw a note written by my father. He had left me some money for the movie, which I missed on my way out.

I didn’t touch it. I just stared at it, lit by the dim overhead light. I wanted to cry my heart out to my father, but he was asleep. There was love, then, still... even if it was hidden and despised. I wished I could show my parents how much I cared for them, but there was a wall - I don’t know who built it. But it wouldn’t come down, because we feared it coming down. Was it different in the past? Were my parents innocent once, too, and did they forever regret that one moment that made them adults (and robbed them forever of that beauty that children have)?

We were children once... until, at least, ‘Uthman (r) died (1). Poor ‘Uthman. Did he know that when the sword came out, it would not be replaced? And oh, Karbala! Husain stood, for a dream, for an innocence. But Husain’s life was not all that was lost that day.

I left the money on the counter. I figured my father would have something that he wanted, that he could spend it on. I shut off the lights, banged my knee into the corner of a cabinet, and went back upstairs, where I read an article on Ancient Egypt (2) till I fell asleep.


1. Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the most prominent Muslims during the Prophet?s lifetime, peace be upon him. He was married to two of the Propohet's daughters, and after the death of the great Umar (ruled, 634-644), Uthman became the third of the Righteous Caliphs. During his rule, the Muslim nation experienced its first truly tumultuous split. There was a combination of forces which were perhaps irresistible. The great wave of expansion during Umar's time had released untold wealth. Society was changing radically. People were experiencing great fluctuations in their lives. Anger mounted against Uthman, who was accused of nepotism. Eventually, a mob stormed the capital city of Madina, and killed the Caliph. Interestingly enough, Ali and Hasan and Husayn all stood by Uthman?s side, and the latter two even fought against the mob to protect Uthman. This is included to show Muslims who over-emphasize the Shi'a-Sunni divide that while there was a great divide and a lot of in-fighting, these Muslims still loved and respected each other (which I wish we would learn from). Uthman's death marked the first time a Muslim leader had been killed by Muslims, and hence was a sad turning point in the history of the young Islamic nation. Karbala, meanwhile, refers to a battle in 680, in which Husayn (Ali's son and the Prophet Muhammad (sa)'s grandson) perished at the hands of an oppressive Muslim army. The second Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, Yazid, was not exactly the best of all Muslims. Husayn raised the banner of revolt, urging the Muslims to rise to stop the descent of the Ummah into decadence. Sadly, only a handful took his side, and this great Muslim and great hero was martyred on the 10th of Ashura, on the plain of Karbala. The date holds great significance for all Muslims. In Shi'a culture, Husayn holds a greatly elevated status, because he was considered one of the chosen Imams (selected to lead the entire Muslim world), and because he stood up to fight injustice and disbelief and corruption. This culture of martyrdom, so to speak, was one of the driving forces behind Iran's Islamic victory in 1979.

2. You're wondering why there's an article on Ancient Egypt in my room. Or perhaps you're wondering why I read it, or what it has to do with my story, such that it's mentioned. Well, looking back over this, I'm wondering just like you.

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