Blog Post 21
June 30, 2019
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Shaitan tried to dissuade her as she sat stitching. Beginning a new venture, such as Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing, is like swimming in a piranha-infested pool. Upon retiring from 25 years of teaching, she put her plan into action and, Al-Hamdulillah, the publishing company was launched with a three-pronged approach – pub-lication of her own and young and new adults’ fiction, along with handstitched bookmarks and tapestries of inspirational ayats. Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing is young and new adult voiced and revolutionary, providing perspectives of resistance, honour, power, faith and hope,
a practical application of Qur’anic and Prophetic guidance.
As she sat stitching, the caring senior woman thought of the vulnerable young and new adults bombarded with anti-Muslim messages. Sticking your head in the sand pretending Muslim youth won’t be attracted to un-Islamic ideas is ridiculous since the west’s glitter and deceptions are satanic. It’s fine to write children’s books with their moral stories or non-fiction scripts of how to be a good Muslim, filled with usul and furu. But exposing youth to real life and calling out the devils in sheep’s clothing is something publishers can’t risk, like it’s brainwashing instead of the truth, like they’ll be blamed for causing home-grown truth seekers.
She relished in this opportunity to empower young people who are itching to have their voices heard. Muslim young and new adults are writing, performing more than ever and sharing and posting non-stop. They are reading fiction, but what they’re reading quite often is highly inappropriate, full of stuff that would embarrass even the most with-it Muslim parent. Wouldn’t it be better if they read powerful novels and poetry that incorporate truth, messages of love, resilience, diversity and resistance and are Islamic, moral and faithful?
The monopoly on what’s published and who owns the publishing houses is well-known and ill-intentioned. To shelf Islamic fiction in bookstores, an author needs an agent, a publisher requires connections and the storyline must fit into the narrative that runs the west’s machinery. Creating our own Islamic fiction publishing company is, thus, a wise combative strategy, with just the right tools and methods to enable platforms of social justice and human rights, dawah and perspectives on the Islamic movement to be heard. So it’ll be up to committed Muslims to support Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing, not only through purchasing, but also by encouraging their young and new adults to write and submit their manuscripts.
As she sat stitching, the solitude secured the singular senior’s solidification of stories. Everyone has a story, but hers was her own, and yet it wasn’t, woven together from arrays of experiences, journeys, faith, realizations and growth. Often, she reminisced about all that as she sewed, marveling at how a little girl from the southern US got plucked out of the racist, hateful thought patterns, ignorant and oppressive worldviews and Christian apathy and cheek-turning to become someone quite different.
“Let’s see who can read the most books this summer,” the eight-year-old American girl announced as school let out. Across the world, another eight-year-old girl watched her with her friends lying peacefully in the grass, silently engrossed within their chosen treasures. That Vietnamese girl had no books or clean water or much food to eat. She was smack-dab in the middle of a 20-year war which the Americans just entered. But while the American girl promised herself to read the stacks from A to Z and could hardly wait to access the sanctity of the world of fiction and the quietness of paper that was awaiting its chance to talk, she wasn’t aware of the other child watching and listening, that one who wished for safety, even grass to lie on.
The love of words compelled her to master typing at 11. The Vietnamese girl wrote of the terrors of the Tet offensive, but only in her mind since she had no paper in the aftermath of the Hue massacre, and the nightmares of her buried alive parents’ bound hands scratching and digging in their mass grave kept her eyes open all night. The American girl didn’t hear those horrors nor see across the railroad tracks and her black future classmate’s grief over the assassinations of Hajj Malik el-Shabazz and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nor her cheers for Olympians Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’s defiance as they raised their gloved fists against the on-going racial discrimination against black people in America and for all those who had been murdered and lynched and thrown off slaver ships up to now. Both girls, the close one and the one far away, hoped her typing skills would morph into liberatory writing.
She spent her childhood down in the woods, bicycling, playing baby dolls, Life and Monopoly, roller skating, running free. The Palestinian girl saw all that while fleeing the West Bank, terrified as she crossed the Jordan River, during the six-day war. The Iranian girl felt sorry for her since she didn’t know the shah had arrested Imam Khomeini over his denouncements of the “white revolution,” moral corruption, westernization and submission to the US and Israel. That Ashura, when the Imam said the shah was like Yazid, her life against the shah commenced, under martial law without her exiled Imam, witnessing the murder of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, many her relatives.
What an innocent life she leads, the four girls all thought, as they watched her lining up chairs and straightening bookshelves after school. They witnessed her service to others, her work ethic, raking leaves, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, sweeping, mopping, buffing and scrubbing toilet bowls in her small Presbyterian church, the sanctuary of God, alone, working out her thoughts. And they prayed that God would inspire her.
Now the sensitive senior lady sat stitching, guilty about her childhood, knowing so many are drenched in woe, torment, destruction and death. She hadn’t known the traumatized children, but she felt their pain as hers, as if they wanted her to.
“They’ll be riots,” she heard adults saying when she wasn’t seen, about the black senior high school, one of only two in town, where the white students would be bussed, a long, forbidden journey, for the converted grades nine and ten, but she wasn’t privy to her black classmates’ family discussions about it. As she began to grasp the revelations through the emotionally laden gestures, speech and love-and-justice-laced poetry of black culture, it became clear to her something was amiss in the cheery, picket-fence atmosphere in which she breathed.
As she sat stitching, she reflected on her realization that black people were real - more demonstrative, charged, sincere, loving, God-fearing, rights-driven - more human. The people she’d grown up alongside were stale, phony and hypocritical, caring only for themselves and taking no responsibility for the plight of black people in town and the oppressed in the world. And suddenly, anger and tears erupted over the hiddenness of her upbringing. What she’d heard and saw and thought about had been censored and controlled because white childhood must be innocent and free of worry and those children must be protected, cocooned, apolitical by keeping the truth about US oppression secret. And the new senior women now too watched her tears and thanked God she had journeyed to the truth and she was doing something with it.
At university she came upon an Iranian student, when all she knew about Persia was carpets and cats, but the Islamic Revolution heated up, exploding during her final year. The Iranian young woman heard her astonishment at the insights her husband revealed and watched her shake at the CIA’s torture techniques training of SAVAK. She was confident her understanding of American crimes was solid, since she had lived, albeit vicariously, with the impact Imam Khomeini made. As she watched in astonishment, the American young woman headed off to the D.C. embassy, becoming a Muslim a few days later, and she prayed for her total immersion in Islam.
After a couple of weeks, the Students Following the Imam’s Line stormed the US embassy in Tehran, taking the Americans captive, leading to a massive letter writing campaign, especially after US president Carter told the American people to “let the Iranian embassy know how they feel.” While the Iranian woman was ensconced in the embassy, she was holed up with the task force composing and typing. Four hands joined together and she used this God-given chance to explain the truth to the American public and schoolchildren which her Iranian counterpart needed telling. The Iranian woman got word that the task force received 250,000 letters and in the 13-week period sent 11,800 letters, along with educational packets, to the Americans and she was grateful.
As she sat stitching, she thought of how she’d realized who the real enemy of humanity was and they didn’t wear beards and turbans. Her mind turned to her early days as a Muslim in the nation’s capital.
The proactive Muslims rallied around Imam Muhammad al-Asi, gaining control of the Islamic Center, moving the Muslim Community School, where she taught, there. It was a tumultuous time: the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat; the assassination of Ali Tabatabaie in Virginia, the round-up of D.C. Muslims and the fabricated Islamic Guerillas of America; the imposed war on Iran; the attempted assassination of Imam Khomeini and the Tabas miracle; the break-in of Imam al-Asi’s home at the Islamic Center and the accosting of him, his wife and young daughter; the Islamic Center’s closing for “renovations” and its reopening a year later for Eid al-Fitr, when committed Muslims attempted to retake the masjid, resulting in armed police storming it, arresting scores of Muslims, propelling them into a drawn-out court case; and Imam al-Asi’s Jumah on the patches of pavement and grass outside the masjid, which continues up to now, thirty years later.
As she sat stitching, the gracious senior woman thanked Allah Subhana wa ta’ala for her firsthand understanding of the mechanisms of the taghut, kafirun, mushrikun and munafiqun. She reminisced about how the media hoodwinks Americans and the world and her writing to the news media denouncing their portrayal of Islam and parroting the US line of being the protectors of humanity, while, in fact, they were the destroyers of all that is good and sacred. Her mind flickered on handing out news leaflets entitled “BE AWARE OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE MUSLIMS,” which she compiled and typed, which included Imam Khomeini’s 16 points, in adherence to the hadith that any Muslim who doesn’t care about all Muslims’ affairs isn’t one.
Upon marrying a Trinidadian convert and moving to Toronto, she hooked up with Crescent International, typesetting, folding and stuffing and even moving up to her own byline and went back to university so she could teach at the Muslim school where she was a board member. All the while, she mothered her five children and wrote young adult novels, two of which were published, encouraging her to write more, but the publisher was no longer active and no one else was interested.
The atypical senior lady, who stitches when she’s not writing and writes when she’s not stitching, thought of Inked Resistance’s slogan - “Resistance. Inspiration. Creation. Revolution.” - the excitement when hearing Muslim young people’s voices and her role as a catalyst in publicizing the new generation, inshallah. And she praised Allah Subhana wa ta’ala for guiding her to Islam as she felt the love flowing over the waterways and along the sunbeams from the unknown, but known, women who had watched and heard her all along.
What are you waiting on? Time to Resist and Join the Revolution!
Get your hands on The Sandhills of Arabia,