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Sent by Brother Abu Hamid Ash-Shakir

I was a teacher in the Quraanic study circle at our neighborhood Masjid at the time. I would see this young boy after Maghrib Salaah who was about fifteen years old. He held a pocket Quraan and sat alone reading from it. He wasn’t actually reading from it, he was just trying to make it seem as if he was. Now and again, he would shyly steal a few glances at us, curious to know what we were doing. Once in a while, you would see him straining to make out what we were talking about. Every time I caught his eye, he would avert his head and continue with his recitation, as if he had not intended to look this way.

Day after day, he sat in the same reserved manner, revealing the same timid glance. Finally after ‘Eshaa Salaah one day, I resolved to confront him.

"As Salaamu ‘Alaikum. My name is Salman. I teach the Quraanic study circle in this Masjid.”

"And my name is Khalid.”

It was strange that he replied so fast, as if he had been waiting to share this piece of information for a long time and expected to be asked.

"Where do you study, Khalid?”

"In the eighth grade…and I…I love the Quraan a lot.”

Why did he add that last sentence?

Confidently, I asked him, "Listen Khalid, have you got any free time after Maghrib? We would be honored to have you join us in the class.”

"What? The Qur’an? The halaqah? Yes…why, yes of course (happiness overcame him). I’ll be there, In Shaa Allah.”

That night, I couldn’t think of anything other than this young boy and the haze that surrounded his behavior. Sleep would just not come. I attempted to interpret an answer for what I saw and heard, but there was none. A verse of poetry came to mind: The coming days shall unravel the mystery And the news may appear from where you could never see.

I turned on my right side and slipped my right hand under my cheek: O Allah! I have surrendered myself to You and to You I turn over my affairs.

The months were passing quickly. Khalid was now a regular in our Quraan circle, energetic and successful in memorization. He was friends with everyone and everyone was friends with him. You could never catch him without a Quraan in his hand, or find him in any other line in Salah other than the first.

There was nothing wrong with him except for his occasional long lapses of attention. There were times when his stoned eyes would reflect the fathomless thought going on in his mind. Sometimes we knew his body was with us, but his soul was somewhere else, suffocating in another world. Occasionally, I would startle him with a question. All he had was a mumble to reply with, and he would have been the first to admit its fabrication.

One night, I walked with him after class to the beach shore. Maybe his big secret might meet something equally large, relax somewhat, and release its distress and pain.

We arrived at the beach and traced the waves. The full moon was out. It was a strange sight. The darkness of the night found the darkness of the sea, with a lit moon in-between them.

I sat somewhat embarrassed at its intrusion, similar to my shyness towards Khalid right then. The rays of the silent moon rested on the silent waves of the sea. I stood behind the silent boy. The scene was silence.

It all shattered and crushed to the ground as the young boy fell to the bottom, bleeding his heart out with tears. I chose not to interrupt Khalid’s emotional release, perhaps the saltiness of his tears might help him relax and cleanse his distress.

After a few moments he said from behind his tears, "I love you all…I love the Quraan…and those who love it. I love pious brothers, moral, pure brothers. But…my father…it’s my father.”

"Your father? What is wrong with your father Khalid?”

"My father always warned me not to hang around with you people. He’s afraid. He hates you all. And he always tries to convince me that I should hate you too. At any chance he gets, he tries to prove his point with stories and tales.”

"But…when I saw you people in the halaqah reciting Quraan, I saw something entirely different. I saw the light in your faces, the light in your clothes, the light in your words, even when you were silent I could see the light even then.”

"I doubted my father’s tales and that’s why I would sit after Maghrib, watching you, pretending that I was part of the circle, trying to share in the light.”

"I…I remember Ustaaz Salman! I remember the time you approached me after ‘Eshaa Salaah. I’d been waiting for that moment for such a long time. When I began the classes, my soul locked itself into a world of purity with your souls. I began the circle and was persistent. I wouldn’t sleep; my days and nights became Quraan. My father noticed the change in my routine. He found out, one way or another, that I had joined the circle and that I was now hanging out with ‘terrorists’.”

"Then, on a dark night…we were waiting for father to come home from the coffee shop, his daily ritual, so that we could all have dinner together. He entered the house with his hardened face and slaps of anger. We all sat together at the dinner mat. Silence settled on the gathering. As usual, all of us were afraid to speak in his presence.”

"He knifed the silence with his roaring and immediate voice.”

"‘I heard you’re hanging out with the fundamentalists.’”

"I was caught. My tongue looped and failed. All the words in my mouth attempted to come out at the same time. But, he didn’t wait for the answer. He snatched the teakettle and threw it maliciously at my face. The room spun and the colors united before my eyes. I could no longer tell the ceiling from the walls from the floor, and fell.”

"My mother held me. A damp cloth on my forehead reminded me of where I was. The vicious voice turned on my mother, ‘Leave him alone, or you’ll be in the same lot.’”

"I crawled out of my mother’s lap and whimpered away to my room. He followed me down the corridor with the cruelest curses.”

"There was not a day that he didn’t beat me in some way – curses, kicks, throwing whatever was nearest to his hand. My body had finally become a shiver of fear, grotesque colors formed all over. I hated him.” (Continued)