29 March 2016

The final cut

I told you about this.

A few weeks ago? Remember?

It’s a friend’s son’s Social Studies project and he picked the topic, not me. It is about Islam and it’s a movie trailer sort of a thing and some of you asked to see it.

Here you go. Roll credits…

26 March 2016

The surfeit

The secret to my employers’ success was the manipulation of time markets.

There. I’ve said it.

This sounds complicated. Like something you’d skip over were you reading about it in a book or on the internet. It is not complicated. It is so simple. Simple and obvious! I can’t understand why no one thought of it before.

My employers were far-sighted. No, not that. They could see up close, too, but we can say they were far-sighted. I will say it.

My employers saw what no one else saw. This march of twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week time? They saw it was dictated by the powers-that-be.

19 March 2016


A storm is here. Outside, I mean, for my house keeps it out there, mostly. 

I admit the storm excites me.

I am not in favor of natural disasters. Not one bit. That is not something I will admit to. Natural disasters take lives and uproot other lives and I am not in favor of such things. I am against them. Banish such an awful notion about me from your mind!


When the rains come and the power goes out and the waters begin creeping up past the curb, up the sidewalk, towards my door? I find it exciting.

Now please let me explain, lest you see me as some sort of monster.

My days are filled to the brimming and strictly regimented. I have many things I must do – do for me or on behalf of another or merely because others insist that I do them. My time is like a sheet of graph paper with extremely specific details and events existing within the confines of each individual square.

This storm ruined my schedule. I did not want the storm to come. I had things to do. But the storm has come and now that it’s here there is nothing I can do about it but sit back and see how all of this plays out.

I cannot control the weather. Obviously I cannot. That should go without saying.

I can sit here in the dark with my visitors and listen. We can look out the windows and watch the waters rise. We can wonder how long this will go on.

Is it anarchy now?

I will almost be sad when it’s over. 

18 March 2016

What words mean

from William Burroughs vs. the Qur’an, by Michael Muhammad Knight:

“At least on paper – forgetting the power that Muslims sign off to imams – Islam offers a direct relationship to the Creator, with no human intermediaries. But I know I can only say this because Muhammad is dead. … If following Muhammad’s wise sayings and example ever becomes difficult, if something doesn’t quite match our modern conscience, Muhammad’s not here to explain himself. So we explain him; we decide what his words mean. The progressives tweak him, the conservatives tweak him, everyone using phrases like ‘allegorical interpretation’ and ‘historical context’ to bend his words until he gives us exactly what we want.”  

"The Prayer" by Jean-Leon Gerome

16 March 2016

Places I will go – part one

1. I will go to the Jamarat Pillars just outside of Mecca. I don’t know when but I will go someday.

I will go and I will throw seven tiny pebbles at the pillars. This represents the stoning of the devil. The stoning of the devil! Millions of people do it every year and I will, too.

The pillars used to be plain old pillars just standing out in the open like this:

But as you can imagine, with so very many people always throwing stones, people were hurt. People were trampled. The Saudis, a few years back, built this multi-level parking garage-looking thing around the pillars...

...making it safer now to stone the devil.

It sounds amazing and bizarre and I am going to go there someday.

2. I will go to Alamut Castle in Iran, where the legendary Hassan-i Sabbah once trained his assassins. It’s said they were feared by all, and they smoked drugs and saw Paradise and they were so loyal to Hassan-i Sabbah that they’d plunge off the top of the castle at his command.

They’re long gone now so far as we can tell, but I have to see the castle with my own eyes.

3. I will go to Howard Hughes’ grave. It’s like five blocks from my house. Sure, it’s not nearly so exotic and exciting as those other places I mentioned, but its locality makes the chances of a visit ever so much more likely, and soon.

I will go to all these places and more (Inshallah…).

Where will you go?  

11 March 2016

The facilitator

The funny little man walked into the middle of our meeting.

The funny little man was known to us all – of course we knew him! – but this time, something was different. This time, he brought with him a six-pack of beer, which he set atop the table as he pulled up a chair.

We tried to carry on. It was a meeting of the political variety and I was the acting facilitator, but soon every eye in the room was fixed upon the funny little man and his six-pack of beer.

10 March 2016

The longest week

O what a long and stressful week this has been! I have nothing to say and nothing to share, so I’ll post this picture – without context or comment – instead.

04 March 2016

...with a Q

My friend, Arun, sent me a book all the way from India. I had to go down to the post office to get it.

The woman there took my little orange card and disappeared for a long, long time. She came out, somewhat later, and said, “I can’t read the name on this card. What’s your name, dear?”

“My name is Iqbal,” I said.

“Ick Ball? Your name is Ick Ball?” she said, jotting something down on the card.

“Close enough,” I said, truly believing it was close enough. “That’s with a Q.”

The post office woman took a few notice cards from other people who were there trying to pick up packages, too, and then she disappeared again. It was a long wait. Soon everyone had their packages but me.

After forever, she reemerged and called out, “Quickball! Package for Quickball!”


Ick Ball with a Q.

I closed my eyes and shook my head but at least I had my book!

It was wonderful of you to send me that, Arun. I thank you and I pray your birthday was an exciting start to an exciting year. (Jazak Allahu Khair…)

02 March 2016

The refrigerator

I once knew a woman with a closet so big it had its own refrigerator. She lived in a house on a lake and she had a dog that beat me and my sister at soccer.

I remember the dog was a miniature collie. I forget what brand the refrigerator was.