The best works of fiction are those inspired by fact. We all know the famous saying “fact is stranger than fiction”. I seem to have struck an uncomfortable chord with some readers of my stories. Shocking as they may be, the tales told on this blog are all true (thus far). Perhaps seen as gossip mongering or a claim to fame, or the imaginations of some twisted mind, I prefer to think that the stories point to human nature and reflect a little bit of each of us. Are we so savagely scarred that we turn away from our reflections and prefer to mask ourselves?
Certainly my favourite books are those inspired by true events. Everyone loves the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, disturbing as some of the descriptions may have been! I love the three books of Tariq Ali’s quintet that I’ve read, covering the loss of Al Andalus, the birth of modern-day Turkey and the conquest of Al Quds by Salahaddin. These tales wouldn’t be complete were they not thoroughly researched and had they not included deep descriptions of acts of human nature – lust, love, hate, greed etc.
The Quran itself is filled with anecdotes that we can relate to so that we may better understand.
Even the much idolised Rumi has written fables and stories appealing to the humanness in each of us. He wrote of jealous wives and cheating husbands, of sheikhs in debt and murdering kings, of sexy trysts – sometimes with even the most sordid, bordering on pornographic, and detail! He wrote of stories of the Prophet (SAW), of Moosa (AS) or Isa / Jesus (AS), of Sulaiman (AS) and Bilqis, of Abu Bakr (RA) and of Ali (RA).
So why are we afraid to explore and why are we quick to condemn?
I’ve been reading some of Rumi’s stories on the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and clearly these are fictitious. The imagination is infinite once we take the first step. He wrote conversations between God and his prophets, debates between angels and humans ….. Somehow there seems not to be a problem in publishing these, perhaps because they are ancient scripts or because the author is a long passed ascetic.
Do we not then have double standards in condemning the as yet unpublished Jewel of Madina? Are we afraid to admit to the humanness of the Prophet (SAW)? Have we forgotten that Aisha (RA) herself relayed stories of his (SAW) nature towards her as a wife – when she described his (SAW) playfulness with her after intimacy? Or is it fear that there will be a backlash and rioting similar to the Danish cartoon fiasco?
I’m saddened that the image of Islam is reduced to mob-mentality. Have we forgotten that even when the Prophet (SAW) was alive, there were people who mocked him? Was he not abused in Taif? Somehow my history notes fail to show retaliation on his (SAW) part! I don’t recall him (SAW) rallying up the Muslims to riot in Taif! Instead I read Allah (SWT) words of counsel to His (SWT) messenger (SAW), urging him to be patient. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “Alas for mankind! There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.” (36:30)
But the Prophet’s (SAW) example is one of tolerance and perseverance and setting examples so that people can see that Islam is a religion of peace.
It is so rare these days to find Muslims setting this example. We are demonised in the West and in the media but we are also responsible for this in only emulating the militant aspects of Islamic history, rather than the diplomatic and peace-making aspects.
So can we quit with the denial and actually use the open minds we profess to have and stop behaving as though the entire Muslim Ummah was immaculately conceived!!!!