True Stories: 1

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Here’s a funny little anecdote that involved me as a youth. The morals of this story include that when you are giving people dawah about the deen, take their age, mentality and lifestyle into account before you tell them anything about Islam. And also, when giving dawah to youngsters, especially those brought up in the west, think carefully about what you’re going to say.

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Some of my childhood friends from Aylesbury (of which there are many Alhamdulillah!), Adil Saddique, Zubair Khan and I used to frequent the gatherings of Tablighi Jamaat when we were the tender ages of eleven or twelve.

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A wonderful local man by the name of Baghi Shah, a true Pathan with swirling turban and flowing beard, used to encourage us to come along to these gatherings in his charismatic way: “come with me brothers! And learn something about Islam!” And we did, not only because of his persuasive skills, but also by the fact that he ran a kebab van and after each meeting would treat us with most succulent doner kebabs in town followed by a satisfying can of Rubicon mango. That was a meal to remember!

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Anyway, back then, the three of us, like most of the boys in our town, were pretty worldly types of boys. We grew up on a cocktail of Amitabh Batchan and “Sholay”; Bruce Willis and “Die Hard”; arcade games like “Kung Fu Master” and “Bobble Bobble”; Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan; Bruce Lee; Bob Marley; Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis; the A Team; Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks; hours on the BMX track; hours in the New street cafe or Crown cafe playing pool against the uncles; hours in MacDonalds slurping on strawberry milkshakes and talking to girls; sneaking into the cinema from the emergency exit at the back to catch a cheeky free flick, playing football in the Alfred Rose park until the sun went down, and yes,  also praying at the mosque, the maseetee, attending Juma, Eid and taraweeh prayers ; absorbing the stinging blows of the Ustadh Gee’s danda if we got our sabak wrong or if we had been caught launching folded paper missiles with rubber bands at the buttocks of unsuspecting children…who would naturally fire some back when the Ustadh Gee disappeared for a while from the class.

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So picture it, Mr Baghi Shah had managed to convince us to attend another gusht, tablighi terminology for an invitation to receive dawa from some practitioners of the tabligh and dawa. Men on a forty day excursion of prayer, iman and yaqeen and plenty of roti and daal!

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This particular meeting was at Baghi Shah’s house near town and when we walked into the main room, we were greeted with the sight of four middle-aged, heavy-looking mullahs, with some seriously militant beards and the baggiest salwar qameezes you would ever find. Pastel colours or light brown. With beautiful white turbans and the strip travelling from above the head, tucked into the back and hanging out behind. To us they looked like they had just walked in from the film set of “The Message”.

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We were told to sit down. The daaees looked at us, made a quick analysis and greeted us with “Masha Allah brothers, masha Allah!” All this while shaking their heads and stroking their beards in approval. I’m sorry, but all Zubair, Adil and I were doing was trying to repress eruptions of laughter shattering the pious atmosphere. We were pretty immature! Still are…a bit!

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Subsequently, the mullah started to speak: “So brothers, tell us, what do you like to do in your spare time?”

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Rather surprised by the question I spoke up, knowing full well that Adil and Zubair would try their level best to make me crumble in a fit of giggles in front of these impressive mullahs.

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“I like to watch TV and go to McDonalds.”

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Suddenly, the whole room was covered in an awkward silence. The mullah looked disappointed. The other men shook their heads. Adil and Zubair were quietly creasing up; I was sure their chests would start trembling soon.

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The mullah looked at us, not amused at all.

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“Well, brother, “ he started, in a rather indignant way, like he had been presented with a falsehood and now he had to break through it with some rousing words: “in my house, I don’t have a tv or a video, we don’t watch any films, we eat with our hands, we don’t drink coca cola or anything like that, and we haven’t even got a sofa so we all sit on the floor.”

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There was silence. Adil and Zubayr were stunned for a moment.

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I replied, rather ruffled: “Well you must be tight ennit?”

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All I remember next was laughter upon laughter upon laughter. We did eventually calm down, eventually. And the evening did finish in a more dignified way, but how can I summarise this?

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Youth is a type of madness…

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When giving youngsters dawah, don’t forget, they can be a bit crazy and immature, especially if they’re from my town! But also, don’t forget, deep below this facade of immaturity and worldliness, there is a mu’min heart yearning to be awakened…

Ramadan Kareem!

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About Novid Shaid

I am a Muslim writer and English teacher. I have written poetry, short stories, a play, and I am currently working on a novella. My subject matter and themes are related to Islam, Sufism, politics and also my job as a secondary school teacher. My work is copyrighted and any works published here may not used or copied without my prior consent. You can contact me via the "Contact Me" page, if you wish to use any these writings. I am keen to gain the notice of publishers and if any are interested in my writings, please contact me via the "Contact Me" page. Was salaam, Peace

6 thoughts on “True Stories: 1

  1. Salaams Novid
    Your stories are always a pleasure to read.
    An insight into your youth days, very fascinating.
    Wassalaam Rahat

  2. All the way through this story I was fretting that Novid has spilled the beans on one of our childhood escapades, but all praise be to Allah as you got the edited version. Lol

  3. I remember the good ol’ days and trying to escape Baghi Shah and his band of “40 Days” brothers. Then being labelled a Whabi for talking to them. Baghi Shah is a true gentleman. Where is he these days? Great piece by the way. Keep it up.

  4. Aslum Uleykum,

    I hardly ever read, however my younger brother Arshid told me about this story that you wrote. I’m glad I read it and really enjoyed it. Adil and you’re part made me laugh; I have worked with him at Talk Talk for a short period of time. He was very helpful and kind hearted, next time I see him, i’ll mention this story to him :).

    Keep up the good work brother

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