The Grace of Ramadan

May Ramadan visit you with blessings of felicity and certainty and increased determination to purify the heart and use every valuable minute in remembrance of Him Who Brought Us Into Being.

The ninth month of pregnancy can seem  longer than all the other months of the pregnancy, and the last week can seem like longer than the whole pregnancy. These weeks have been feeling that way to me in my writing life.  Three projects that have been gestating for years, two of them for over seven years, are finally on the verge of fruition. But alhamdilillah now that Ramadan is here, the palpable baraka of its mysterious days and nights suddenly makes the waiting a mere flutter of a gnat’s wing in the face of Allah’s Majesty and Magnificence. These Ramadan days and nights are surely made of different fabric from all the rest.

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  

A Mercy to the Worlds

A Jordanian doctor managed to get into Gaza to work at a hospital there. This is what he said in an interview: He never heard a complaint. The bloodied Gazans were saying, “This is for Allah. We are doing this for Allah.”  A woman looked at her son’s dead, washed body, and said “When he was born I prayed he would die a martyr, and now he has.  Alhamdulilah.”  He said a grace came over them, a patience, that  allowed them to pull together and embrace what was happening to them.

This is the legacy of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace. This is the success he promised to those who are willing to acknowledge

they didn’t create themselves,

cannot maintain themselves,

cannot avoid their death, and

have been created to praise something larger than themselves.

mercycdcoverbooklet070708-1Coming soon: A Mercy to the Worlds: The Coming of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace

Published in: on February 16, 2009 at 6:41 am  Comments (2)  


On Thursday night Nasreddin Hodja’s wife boiled wheat berries and rice with a pinch of salt in the soup kettle,  a few handfuls of white beans in the little copper pot, and a few handfuls of  chickpeas in the black pot. She had done this  all her life on a Thursday of Muharram, first as a little child barely able to see into the kettle and later as a young woman trying it out for the first time alone, and finally now, as an almost-old woman grateful to still have the health and strength to run a kitchen.

Two hours later (more…)

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 9:19 am  Comments (1)  

Listen, listen, listen

I’ve always felt that it is fruitful to speak to very young children, even infants, about what I am doing for them, or what is happening around them, or what is coming next, throwing out the idea “they can’t understand.”  And I have observed that children who are engaged in this way behave differently as a result of it.

And I have been told on several occasions that even very small children choose to listen to my stories again and again, even though I can’t imagine how they could possibly “understand” the story.

So I wasn’t entirely surprised to read this note from a friend, although it made me really happy and grateful, and I was glad she gave me permission to put it here.

I just wanted to share with you something I think is amazing ) I’ve been playing the Miraculous Happenings CD for a few days straight and noticed that my daughter has actually memorized parts of the story, and she is only 18 months old!!

I was doubtful at first so I’ve kept playing it every day so I could pay attention. When the part comes where you say “and he drank long and greedily…” Nafeesah says “Ahhhhh!” before Abrahah does. Then when you mention he stuffs a handful of grapes in his mouth she makes smacking sound with her mouth. The part when the soldiers start whispering to each other, she starts doing the “whispering” sounds before they start on the recording. and I’ve noticed that before some dialogue is about to come up Nafeesah seems to be imitating the sound of the voice of the person who is about to speak, only in babble of course.
I can tell she has memorized parts of the story because her actions usually precede the sound effects/dialogue that she seems to be imitating rather than afterwards.

Fortunate little girl!

We know that a fundamental developmental factor in language acquisition is


A child  is listening already in the womb. In fact, if a child is born deaf, he will very likely not go on to speak, even if there is no physiological problem with his voice, without sophisticated equipment and help.

The  very first word of the Masnavi, the phenomenal work of Mevlana Jelalludin Rumi is


One of my favorite songs growing up was:

Listen, listen, listen

to my heart’s song.

Listen, listen, listen

to my heart’s song.

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

The poet Caroline Forche wrote,

We are listening, help us to understand.

Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

Be an ear.”



Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Staying Informed Takes Effort

For anyone willing to increase their knowledge about the situation in Gaza, here’s a good place to go: particularly if you are an American citizen and puzzled by the recent US Congressional Resolution on Israel. And Allah knows best. The best way to keep the people of Gaza in your prayers is before dawn and in groups.  And we must keep digging into our pockets.


Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant

The greedy and power-hungry vice-regent Abrahah

intends to divert the world’s pilgrims

from the Kaaba, the House of Allah, in Mecca,

to the cathedral his slaves have built for him.

But when the cathedral’s spires finally slice the brilliant Yemeni skies

and the magnificent doors are opened,

the throngs Abrahah has been boasting about do not arrive.

In a rage, he vows to destroy the Kaaba,

but Allah, the Causer of all causes, has other plans.

True happenings, stranger by far than fiction, demonstrate that if He says, “Be!” it is,

it surely is.

This telling of the events behind the Chapter of the Elephant of the Glorious Qur’an was chosen for Second Prize in the Islamic Foundation’s 2005 Writing for Children competition.  The audio Cd was produced in Amman in 2006 and the illustrated book was published by the Foundation in 2007.

THE CD Audio sample: 

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant CD

A review from one of our readers:

“MashaAllah! My children still listen to your retelling of the Year of the Elephant and love it!”  Roxanne Umm Sahla, (KUWAIT)

Reviews from

“My husband and I purchased the audio recording of this story when our daughter was about 15 months old and I played it almost every day for a few weeks. It was the first recorded story that I ever played just for her and I wasn’t sure how she would react. She LOVED it! Even though she was too young to understand the content of the story, she would obviously be paying close attention to the sound effects and the voice of the storyteller. She would bounce up and and down to the beat of the drums, and repeat “Allah!” whenever she heard it being said in the story. Playing the story would almost immediately quiet her if she was feeling cranky and put a big smile on her face especially as she “danced” to the drumbeats. Now, as a 20-something-year-old adult, I have to say that I was a bit surprised by how much *I* really enjoyed the story! I am not ashamed to admit that I actually cried during my first listening of the story because of Mehded’s vivid descriptions and storytelling style. A few of the more dramatic points in the story got me quite emotional! I read the book after listening to the story many times and was mildly disappointed by the illustrations because I had already developed very detailed images in my mind of the whole story.”  Umm Hamza (UAE)

“Even very young children love the language and walk around repeating parts of it as they listen…the best language instruction you could ever give a toddler.”  Abu Yusuf, (AMMAN)


Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant, published by The Islamic Foundation, 2007

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant, published by The Islamic Foundation, 2007

Reviews from

“great for allowing young readers to review and retell the story in their own voice…  a fine example of a beautiful Islamic story in very descriptive and well-written English–definitely a must-have book for one’s growing children’s library. Additional positive aspects of the book and recording include the fact that they teach the reader/listener about the history tied to a chapter of the Qur’an and about reliance on God when facing any difficulty. PLUS the story is very well researched and has been checked by reliable scholars. Overall, Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant–both the book and recording–are great tools for developing your and your child(ren)’s love for reading stories and storytelling, while learning about Islam and developing love for God and the Prophet Muhammad at the same time.”  Umm Hamza, (UAE)

“a beautiful hard-cover book, one your children will want to read again and again with or without the CD, improving their grasp of well-written English along the way.”  Abu Yusuf, (AMMAN)

You can order the book from or .UK

You can order the book and the CD from The Islamic Foundation,


Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Book

Coming Soon! A Trust of Treasures

Coming Soon! A Trust of Treasures

Long ago,the universe was humming praises for its Creator,
But there was no one to stand still and listen, and say “Ahhh.”
The stars were whirling and glittering in the night sky,
But there was no one to be dazzled by them and discern their patterns.
The moon was waxing and waning in its orbit,
But there was no one to measure its phases or count their days by it.

Soon to be released by Kube Publishing, part of the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, England.  This  book, beautifully illustrated by Angela Desira, tells the story of Creation in  a new and surprising way and clarifies the role of men and women as  caretakers of the finite earth and everything on it, while bowing down to the eternal Creator in love and awe and gratitude.


Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Good News!

My apologies for those who’ve had difficulty getting over to to hear the sample of The Bowing of the Stars. Now the sample is available from this site, no need to migrate over to Have a listen! 

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Abdul Majeed has requested a slight adjustment to my reporting of his dream. In the dream he memorized the surah and then Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace, embraced him. You can read more details below in the post for 12/27!


Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 5:43 am  Leave a Comment  

A Labor of Love

Moments form the Life of the Prophet Yusuf, peace upon him

A project of love, begun a little over twelve years ago in Istanbul, and completed this year  in Amman with the generous help of renowned tafsir scholar Sheikh Ali Hani and his trusted translator Sohail Hanif, and the painstaking editing of Sam Ross.  A double audio CD, English telling 1 1/2 hours,  Qur’anic recitation of Surtul Yusuf 30 min. The short nasheed interludes are sung by the girls of Dar al Zahra in Tarim, Yemen. The artwork is by Mukhtar Sanders.

Give a listen:

Here are some comments:

“An entrancing performance like this is a unique treasure, a wonderful resource for teaching children about the prophets, developing their linguistic capabilities, and inspiring their love and devotion for Allah with vivid images that will nourish them from within.” Inayet F. Sahin, M.Ed. Curriculum Theory and Development

“My four-year old son Dawoud and I were spellbound by this telling, dazzled by the grandeur of the story. For the first time I felt the beautiful reality of the Prophet Yusuf, the magnificence of his personality. The next day, Dawoud retold all of the part we had heard to his father. He still wants to listen again and again and his understanding grows each time.” Heba Salem, Amman, Jordan

“Phenomenal, mashaAllah.” Sam Ross, Qasid Institute, Amman

“The work is unparalleled in the purity and clarity with which it expresses the emotions and events.  One feels one is really there beholding the various happenings.” Sohail Hanif, Sunnipath, Amman

“Qur’anic narrative mentions the most important details relating to the primary lessons of its stories, and the rest of the details are left out; left for the reader to imagine the events that might have transpired in-between the lines, an imagining that is aided by context, common sense, and the many subtle hints in the Qur’an. For one to fill in these gaps and contemplate on them is part of interacting with Qur’anic stories and at times is essential to full understanding of the lessons that are to be learnt.

I have checked this telling relying on five different works of Qur’anic interpretation. The details filled in from the very able imagination of the author completely accord with the spirit and soul of the story to help the listener, especially the child, appreciate the wonder and miracle of the surah. None of the details contradict any Islamic value and many can be found in the copious literature of Qur’anic exegesis.

I believe it is an excellent contribution to much-needed literature that invites the reader to truly absorb and enter the world of the Qur’an. The beautiful writing style of the author corresponds nicely to the magical and compelling style of the Qur’anic original.

And Allah alone gives success.”    Sheikh Ali Hani, Amman, Jordan

“My children and I were enthralled. This account will stir your soul and stimulate your mind. I recommend it most sincerely to anyone, young or old, who loves to hear of the lives of our prophets and draw lessons from them.”
Fowzia Bora, UK


Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 10:55 am  Comments (2)