I always like to write about something different, and talk about something that would seem a bit out of the ordinary. I had always wanted to write a story set from an Islamic perspective, but often I would struggle to find exactly what I wanted to write about, and more to the point, be accurate to what I was representing.
In Australia in recent months, its fair to say relations between Islamic Australians and others has been very stressed to say the least. However, lately I noticed is how increasingly we have started to support them as valued members of our community. Following the horrible events of the Sydney Siege, the hashtag #Illridewithyou really showed a side to Australia I'd never thought I'd see, one that seemed totally distant from the days of the Cronulla Riots, one where everyone supports everyone. Yeah sure, people would argue that racism and Islamaphobia is still very much existant in Australia, and yes it is; but quite frankly, racism is something that can never truly disappear, and to say that a society doesn't have racism would be wishful thinking.
One thing that I did want was to show in my story was that people who practise Islam are totally normal people, and so if I was to do that, I would have to find something that everyone at some point could relate to. The notion of recovery came up very quickly, so I decided to go with that and try and picture the idea of an islamic man who recovers from emotional pain that everyone could relate to, which eventually became a broken heart.
As the idea for a story began to emerge, that an Islamic man would return to his home in Damascus with need of his heart to be mended, and he finds closure and reinforcement in his own beliefs from speaking to a non-Islamic man, I found myself struggling with how I could show that values are important in recovery. I wanted to show that this person could be anyone, and that you can have faith in anyone, but that this man happens to put his faith in Allah.
I talked extensively with Ezzy, a very old friend of mine who is also a practising muslim, and I explained to her how the story would progress, and she explained to me what would and wouldn't work in relation of my story to Islamic practises, what the beliefs of Islam matter in terms of this story, and even a little bit of Arabic (I can say one word in Arabic now!).
Following what she said, I began to write this story, which took me nearly a week. It was a very hard piece to write and rewrite, as I was desperately trying to search for a voice that would relate to this man's experience, but also be respectful of Islam. Eventually, I completed the draft that is on the website now, and following me showing it to much of my close family and friends, I did the ultimate test of whether I'd written a faithful story and sent it to Ezzy.
This version on the website is the version I sent to her; and I was really happy she liked it. I'm very proud of this story. It was one of the most cathartic and satisfying stories I've ever written. I hope you guys enjoy it!
And remember, Allah always knows best!