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Diary of a Beardless Rumi - Tales of a Sinner

Diary of a Beardless Rumi - Tales of a Sinner

Issue 78 March 2011

I went to the mosque a couple of days ago just to see what was happening.

 I was told by a brother that an American Sufi called Abdullah Kabaz was going to host a gathering in the evening. The brother pronounced the name in the manner of a boxing presenter. Immediately I decided I would attend.

 When I arrived in the evening, there was a huge crowd and they all seemed very happy and excited. There was a sign dangling dangerously above the animated crowd. The sign said it best: “Ain’t no hell in the sky worse than when you don’t cry come to paradise or die from material lice.”

 I recognised a few of my school friends and went over to them to say hello. They all had so much gold on them that I asked them if their mothers knew that they had taken all their gold. Surprisingly, they told me it was theirs and they all paid for it from their wages. Naturally, I asked them what they did and they told me that they all delivered talcum powder. Apparently, it was becoming a rapid growth industry in the area.

 Footsteps were then heard and everybody immediately sat down on the huge red carpet. A brother walked over to the microphone and spoke.

 “Dearest brothers! Today I present to you something rarely seen. An American on his way to paradise. Abdullah Kabaz.”

 Slowly, the heavy backstage curtain opened and a gigantic long bearded African man in a white robe walked to the microphone and looked at us gravely. His huge eyeballs seemed to glow in the dark. He reminded me of a lamppost.

Abdullah Kabaz then leant over to the microphone and screamed: “ASSSS-ALAAAAMU- LAIKUMMMM! EVERYBODY!”

 “Wa alaikum assalaam,” we all replied tremulously. Abdullah Kabaz frowned: his displeasure evident. For a long minute he did not speak. Menace sizzled in the air like burnt parathas.

 He spoke softly but sternly; the way people sometimes speak to naughty children. “Brothers! We is all guilty of evil. You all think I pray; I don’t watch TV; I don’t listen to music. I am certain of my place in the Garden. But no one can ever be certain of anything. There was a time when the Angel Gabriel was ordered to destroy a village. He said whoooah! Wait a minute, there’s a guy down there who ain’t ever done a single thing wrong. Gabriel was told that that sucker never said anything to nobody who was doing wrong. That poor fool he was like us, thinking if I ain’t doing it, it ain’t my neck on the line. But in the end, that guy fried like everyone else. You know our problem brothers? We don’t do repentance. We do mortgages and careers, but we don’t do repentance.”

 “Do you know what we are all going to do now?” said Abdullah Kabaz. “We is all gonna close our eyes now and repent for the evil that we have done in our lives.”

 He clicked his fingers and as if by magic, the room instantly became dark. We all sat frozen: befuddled by the veil of darkness. I wondered if Abdullah Kabaz would give further instructions; but he just stood like a mountain. Everybody began to shift awkwardly in their seats. Discomfort crackled in the air. Then, all of a sudden, a sound came; a crazed giggle in a deep baritone. The giggle swelled and cracked. Brother Kabaz bowed and began to sob.

 I smiled and nudged the brother next to me; expecting a wink in return. The brother however seemed to stiffen up. I thought he was angry because I nudged him. But when I saw his eyes crease up and the veins on his neck bulge, it suddenly dawned on me: we were all supposed to cry!

 Within seconds, the room was filled with the sound of wailing. The brother next to me suddenly fell weeping into my lap. I wondered if he had killed someone. I tried to console him by patting him on the back, but it only made him cry harder. I tried desperately to think of a sin, but I couldn’t concentrate from the noise. Worse still, people began to head butt me from all sides. Grief had made them jerk like electric eels.

 Gently, I pushed the brother away from my lap and slowly got up. I bent down and gave him a consoling pat on the shoulder. In complete darkness, I ran to the door. As I ran, somebody grabbed my leg and tucked it to his chest all the time weeping uncontrollably. I too began to jerk like an electric eel. With an effort, I kicked him away and sped outside.

I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I kept having nightmares of Abdullah Kabaz throwing me into a bathtub and drowning me with his tears.



This new section of the magazine is based on the lead character of the best selling novel by Sagheer Afzal, The Reluctant Mullah (which we reviewed in April 2010). You can read the review here.




Words - Sagheer Afzal

Illustration - Grischa Heyer


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