A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Sooo maybe you can guess I have joined the NaNoWriMo movement. National Novel Writing Month encourages all its participants to write a novel (defined as at least 50,000 word) in 30 days by the end of November insha'Allah. I have a good start as I always have some sort of story line going on in my head.
At first my biggest challenge was to just focus on one topic. I had a few ideas bouncing around in my head but some were too autobiographical (I wouldn't want anyone to read it!) and others were just too in-depth to be tackled effectively in this time frame.
I finally opted on a halal romantic historical fiction. I am not (too) ashamed to say I used to love reading these types of books. To be transported to a different time and place, all the over-the-top characters, and the passion... lol Well I loved reading them before I was Muslim but afterwards... well there was just too much sex and haram to even consider it (although reading any novel isn't recommended it's still something I enjoy from time to time).
I have read some so-called "Islamic" fiction and I was horrified by the topics chosen and the way they were presented. I know some people will think I am being ridiculous and over-the-top but as Muslims we are commanded by ALLAH SWT to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. I feel that to glorify sex and drinking and adultery is indeed enjoining evil and perpetuating it. So instead of compaining about what is out there, I decided to just write my own. :-)
I am striving to write a historically accurate, emotionally satisfying, and ultimately uplifting novel. My intent isn't for publication but to enjoy the challenge to complete something after soooo many years of reading a sub-par book and thinking, I could've done better than that! lol Haven't we all? So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth was, so to speak.
In this book I will endeavor to keep from the haram as far as possible although some characters will be necessarily good and some evil. It will insha'allah have a moral to it as well without being preachy.
Anyway here is just some excerpts from the opening. I would enjoy getting your feedback. I don't mind criticism at all but I reserve the right to accept or reject it. In the end, I want to write a book I would be proud of, that upholds the same values I espouse, and that will insha'Allah entertain my sisters in a more halal manner.
Without further ado, the much-anticipated (yeah right!) debut:
A Novel by Me!
The prisoner looked up at the dark night sky, searching for the moon. In vain he craned his head this way and that trying to catch a glimpse. He was disoriented, hungry and dirty; he had been rudely shoved into the unused damp cellar 2 days ago and had as of yet to receive anything with which to cleanse himself. He rubbed his hands reverently on the stone walls and began his ritual ablution, running his hands slowly over his face and arms, cleansing himself symbolically, if not physically. He was readying himself for commune with His Lord, Ya Rabb. After a brief search, he found a small twig in amongst the hay that was laid down to serve as his bed.
Carefully he peeled it and chewed the end until its fibrous core was exposed. He cleaned his mouth thoughtfully; it was inconceivable for him to approach his Creator in prayer with a dirty mouth. The malaika (angels) are present during prayer and are offended by stale breath. He did his best to clean himself and then slowly, he raised his hands to the side of his head.
“Allahuakbar!” his voice rang out in the chilly air, his warm breath leaving a trail of steam in its wake.
“Allahuakbar!” he called again and felt his pulse slowing and his focus turning inward.
He continued the athan and began his prayer. Since he has been in this tomb-like enclosure, he could never be sure of the direction; it was a part of his salaat (prayer) to face the direction of Makkah, the holy city. Now he only had his dim recollections from a few nights past when he was brought into this makeshift prison. With his heart, Sofiane made the intention to complete his prayer correctly and beseeched Allah to accept it. Insha’Allah (God willing) He would.
Afterwards, he sat very still and let his mind focus on the glory of Allah. He made dhikr or remembrance of God and made his personal prayers. He prayed for his freedom of course (and more importantly) for the mercy and forgiveness of his Lord. He prayed for Allah to protect his family in his absence, to give them comfort and consolation, to make them accepting of anything they were given or was taken away, to make them strong until his return. Insha’allah.
He felt a strong sense of peace. He had done all he could do; he had prayed, lifted his hands up to his Creator and placed his trust in Him. He laid down on the scratchy straw and fell into a deep slumber.
Emma stared pensively out the opened window, the cold moist air encircling her body like a frigid cloak. She shivered slightly and pulled her woolen wrap closer. It was also cool and damp in her room despite the roaring fire. Most young women her age didn’t have a private room but Emma was lucky she wasn’t required to spend her nights on the stone floor below, fighting for sleeping space with the multitude of hounds and slinking cats that were the habitual inhabitants of any keep. Her room, though small, was adequate for her needs and she was grateful for the privacy it granted. Especially now.
Everyone in the area knew of the infidel who had been brought here under cover of darkness. His location was supposed to be kept secret but in all actuality what harm did it matter that some illiterate peasants and a handful of landless gentry knew his location? Emma’s father was keeping the prisoner for his lord, Sir Gilbert. Sir Gilbert’s castle was in the same town as the local fleece market and as such news would spread quickly of the prisoner’s whereabouts. It was much safer to house him here in the sleepy little village of Wallingham than to chance placing him in a more accessible area.
Emma’s thoughts turned to the prisoner himself. She had to admit she was eager to catch a glimpse of the heathen. Churches had just started giving sermons, short moralistic stories the common masses could relate to their everyday lives. Although Emma herself was very skeptical about the Church and their doctrinse she was fascinated by their stories. It was fun to hear the priests give their lectures but she didn’t put too much stock into it.
However since the beginning of the crusades to win back Jersusalem, or the Holy Land as the tiresome priests described it, Emma had been hooked. They told tales of ruthless muhajideen or holy warriors dressed in long white skirts and carrying evil scimitars who would strike down any man, woman or child unlucky enough to be in their path. They delved into great detail when describing the evils of the harem or women’s quarters for the wealthy Sheikhs. Emma could almost see the writhing, naked bodies, clad only in the sheerest wisps of silk, drenched in intoxicating perfumes. All there for the pleasure of one jaded man who could end their life at his whim. Oh yes, Emma was enchanted!
It was all so much more exciting than her boring life here in Wallingham. As the daughter of the lord of the manor she was expected to act as housekeeper, hostess, and occasionally in any other capacity necessary. Emma’s mother had died many years ago when she was just a small child. Although her memories were beginning to fade, she remembered her mother as being kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, perfectly suited to life in a quiet little hamlet.
Not me!, Emma thought mutinously. She would never be happy here, just marrying whomever Father picked and raising a pack of kids for an ungrateful husband, dying when she was 35, worn out and miserable. She dreamed of life, life! beyond these crumbling grey stone walls. Emma had a keen mind and was a quick learner and above of all of that, she had a curiosity and a zest for life and love of knowledge. All of these traits combined to make her unsuited for a life of monotony and duty.
She found herself thinking about the prisoner again. From her small window she could just see across the courtyard to the place where he was held. There was a dull light shining through the tiny ventilation opening, as if a lone candle had sullenly agreed be lit. Emma strained to see through the foggy darkness and was gratified with a glimpse of a dark head just visible. She could see short black hair and a surprisingly thick beard. Apparently he did not find what he was searching for because momentarily he disappeared.
Disappointed, Emma started to move away from the window, plotting how she could cajole her father into letting her meet the prisoner. Suddenly the most beautiful and haunting sound came from the direction of the cellar....
Anyway that is the end of what I wanted to share right now. Insha'Allah you all enjoyed it and if I say or do anything good it is from Allah and Allah alone, all praises are to Him.