Between the Shadows and Lies- Part 1

By Faisal Ansari

  1. The Sinner
  2. The Muslim Teen Dope fiend
  3. The Smile- Our Prophet Muhammad (slw)

“They say we all lose 21 grams… at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. How many lives do we live? How many times do we die? And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? When do we lose 21 grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? How much is gained? Twenty-one grams. The weight of a stack of five nickels. The weight of a hummingbird. A chocolate bar. How much did 21 grams weigh? 21 grams…” Paul Rivers, 21 Grams

He grew up in Echo Park in an enclave of the greater Hollywood district of Los Angeles since the age of two after his parents had immigrated there in 1975. Remembering the street he grew up on called Berkley Avenue. His uncle owned an ice cream store down on the corner of our block. As kids they would go there and eat ice cream while sitting on its big red footsteps. That kid he once new so innocent and tender hearted… with the light of God in his heart that he was originally created upon. Man he was a sweet kid and the future was bright. He was an American Muslim kid… yah. “And it was just another head line written down one time one night in America.” The land of the free and the home of the brave where a Muslim American family was swept by the whirl winds of the environment that surrounded them and many like them. His parents so eager and anxious to make a better life for their kids and their expectations were great while many years later those expectations were shattered and manifested in the form of tears and heart aches unbearable for any mother and father. Who’s to blame man, the kids, the wife, the father, society, God, the devil? As human beings we shy away from asking these questions because were afraid of what we might see and find out between the shadows and the lies…It’s where the trouble starts….

The Sinner-

While driving down modern man’s invention called a freeway, he found himself sweating and shaking from the fear of God pulling over to the side of the road not able to continue…

“He said please God take away this ball and chain because it’s killing my heart,” love me dear God and show me your beauty even though I sinned… pulling over on the freeway not able to drive from the guilt of the sins that sucked him dry to the bone… screaming Allah!!! Allah!!! Allah!!! At the top of his lungs… Ya Rabi!!! No… not me… I didn’t… I couldn’t… I… yah but you did it now live with it fool. As people of other faiths say in their warped way of believing that “Hell is in Guilt and conciseness.” “Hell is here! in my mind from what I did!” Hell is here! But there is some truth to this guilt as it will suck you down and dry to the bone if you let it. “However cleverly you sneak up on a mirror your reflection still looks you straight in the eyes Johnny,” Angel Heart. God can see you and knows what you want to do and imagine if we were not given the gift of forgiveness and the sense of forgetting the past even though He does not forget but it is a mercy to human beings that we forget and are able to move forth otherwise we would kill ourselves from the guilt.

A wise man once told him, “Stop playing God son; you’re a Muslim…fly with the wing of hope and fear. Allah (The Creator) said in His Holy Book the Quran: “, They call upon their Lord in fear and hope (As-Sajdah 32:16). Since prayer itself is both a form of worship and an indication of a hopeful attitude toward Allah, believers pray in the hope that Allah will answer their prayers.

Allahuma maghfiratoka awsaa’ min thonoobi

Wa rahmatoka arja ‘andey min ‘amaley

“Oh Allah, your forgiveness is greater than my sins and my hope in Your mercy is greater to me than my actions”

His mercy is greater than our sins and we can stop living in the mental and emotional hell that tears lives apart especially of those who believe that man is sinless, because he is not. So forgive yourself brother and forgive yourself sister, for “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” But that is easier said than done isn’t it my friend? You think you’re greater than Allah? Who are you to be judge and executioner? Insan, “Verily we made you weak” Allah said in his Book.

“You ain’t nothin man!!!  You were born to loose and destined to fail,” Iblis tells you on a daily basis. Some say It’s your guilty conscience haunting you, maybe so… But the God I believe in gave me another chance to breath and use my intellect and emotions to serve Him and not my own twisted soul. So forgive yourself first and then it will lead you towards the right direction if you make the right steps as taught to us by our healer, our helper, our counselor, our friend, our father, our brother, our intercessor, our final Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

Here I lie in my wooden grave-

The people around me torment my soul

For the earth did not except me

And now hell awaits me

For I was dead already

But this was just to make it official (Faisal Ansari 1992)

It is said that one of the main reasons the final messenger of God Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to humanity- was to break the shackles of depression from men. Many of us are haunted by our ghosts of depression, Anger, fear, anxiety and bought into the cycles surrounding these ailments as a Genre of Western Popular Culture Mediated by the Post Modern American Muslim.

The young Muslim Teen Dope Fiend- (The Basketball Diaries)

He knocks at his mother’s door close to mid-night…

Knock knock knock… Knock Knock Knock…

“Toufiq:” (An American Muslim young man): Ma-

“Mariam:” (His Mother) Who is it?

Ma let me in

Knock knock knock

Ma let me in!

Please Umi let me in Asalamualaykum Mama

His mother bolts the locks, hooks on the chain lock to the door, then slowly opens it

Mah, hey ma, you in their mama

He is disgruntled from the effects of the white powder blues

Ma is that you?


Ma Ma, are you there?

Salam, Salam mama, Salam, Hi…

Listen, I need u to help me out alright Mama

I need u to give me some money Ok?

Peering in half way between the chain lock and the door trying to reach in to touch his Ma

I need you to give me like 10 dollars, like 30 dollars because I really need it ok?

Yah , cuz im in some trouble

She does not answer back

He becomes disgruntled

Ma , do you hear me Ma!

Yah, I hear you, I, I can’t help you Toufiq not this time

Ok listen, watch you gotta do is give me some money ok?

Sniffing his nose running from the dime baggy

Ma you know im not gonna do anything with it, I m just gonna go out of town cuz I got into some trouble and I need some help with it

He reaches in to grab his Ma by the arm but can’t reach

Ok so you gotta give me some money Ma, can you hold my hand? Crying for her affection


Mom, Mom, can you give me some money please Mom

She begins to cry and takes his hand but says nothing

Ma, please can u give me some money please stop F’n around with me!! He raises his voice

He beats the door, Ma give me some Fn money mom he curses at her

I can’t

Give me some money, what are you doing Im your son!!!

He begins to break in the door

She fights back to shut it

Ma don’t f… around like this with me MA!!!

He cries at the top of his lungs screaming and whaling- Let me in the fn door Ma please

She locks the door and crawls down to the floor in pain and tears

Oh man God!! He cries and screams, he has lost his Mom now

Ohw F you, let me in, I need some money real bad, he screams and cries

Im your son!!! What are you doing….

Let me in you B….

Whata you doing to me , the pain , it hurts , im your son you fn b……

Ahhahahah, screaming and whaling he cries at the top of his lungs

Ill be a good boy ma let me in,

She calls the cops and they take him away…

And another Muslim American street hoody bites the dust.

Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) 21:87 And (mention) dhun nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no God save Thee. Be Thou glorified! I have been a wrong-doer.

This is one of a series of notes about the lives of Muslim American youth from the 1970’s till now and their stories reaching us from the hi-ways and bi-ways of Tallahassee Florida to the neon-signs- lit- city streets of Hollywood California.

It is our admonition and hope that this article be read by Muslim Americans who are completely outside of the circle of being “practicing Muslims.” The Muslims we never see at the mainstream Islamic functions or gatherings. We only hear about you when another headline is written down in America by yours truly; “the Muslim American Community.” Here they come, aunty and uncle not to comfort your mother and father after your sister ran away and gave away her life to become some non-Muslims wife with a honeymoon in Vegas.

Muslims Americans are suffering from the same ailments that haunt our non-Muslim friends including suicide and what have you. It is no wonder Allah (God) mentioned about being careful of such specific things as suicide and so forth because it is a real situation for many human beings.

This is life folks and includes us Muslim Americans so don’t think for a minute that our community is not suffering from such things and that one day God forbid that you may have to check your loved one into a hospital for suicide watch or send them away to prison. In the early 80s when the hills of Los Angeles were filled with green and autumn tints of yellows and reds all in the eyes of a child and everything was great. A shot rang out in the night taking the blood of an innocent Muslim. They were two brothers of mid-age, one a Vietnam Veteran, and an honest man and the other a drug dealer. The drug dealer’s enemies were on the lookout for him while driving around. They spotted him at a telephone booth and took his life. Only, the brother that was killed was the honest one and not the drug dealer. I remember my mother telling me about what had happened and for some reason that story stayed with me till this day because I remember their faces and that they were my people involved in bad stuff. An innocent life that was taken by a twisted fate centered around hatred and most importantly the disobedience to Allah (God). This is where our story begins folks, and it is the threshold of endurance depending upon how much we can bear to listen too. Remember the innocent faces of your sons and nephews and daughters and what they may be touched by when they reach maturity. Let us begin to work now for our faith by learning it and passing it on to our loved ones so that they don’t endure the nightmare and the horror that the first Muslim American generation have endured and let not their stories soon pass us by with the speed and recklessness of a late night bullet.

The author’s intention is not to depress the reader but rather give back hope and a smile to our beautiful brethren in faith and humanity while shedding light about the same vulnerabilities that we all share and carry with us everyday as Muslims and non-Muslims. So read along my friends we are in this together and let us embrace each other with a prayer of hope and tranquility endowed upon us from our Creator because without our prayers and acknowledgment of what is happening out there, we are destined to suffer the same fate. This is a message of hope and love that seeks to help us overcome the hurt and pain and years of scars that we have suppressed. You know what you your deal is, but do you choose to play hide and seek and run all your life from your struggle because it will find you where ever you go. “You can run all your life, but not go anywhere.”  It’s time to open our hearts and lend each other a helping hand and the healing hands of love by listening to their stories and not shutting the back door in the cold of the midnight hour.

The Story of the Smile- and The healing hands of the Prophet Muhammad

The final messenger of God named Muhammad (peace be upon him), when first learning of him it was through a smile that I became a practicing Muslim in 1997.

And now when thinking of the Prophet he reminds me of a Desert Rose, a desert rose dressed tall in Red standing and illuminated by the light of the moon, his message calls to me like a siren in the night and he is a freedom to me from the evil of my soul, hope, faith and the strength to carry on and his selfless message contained the greatest gift to me and to you, a healing and a solace – the greatest gift being the love of God and a clean soul and a hope that we will make it back to Heaven.

Every story I have heard of the Prophet there is a reminder of how he would treat people with a soft heart, affection, concern, love, and most of all a smile. They say that He once said, “Even a smile is charity.” Along time ago this young man in his early twenties used to hate going to the mosque and would only go when his mother would force him to. When he would go there all he would see were faces of hatred and discontent. One day feeling lost and alone he found himself at the footsteps of that mosque. As he stood outside it, a brother of Syrian origin appeared he had a great big smile on his face and he was smiling right at the young man. This brother had noor (Iight) on his face and around him, metaphorically speaking. He really did, and the young man could not gather why he smiled at him and actually greeted him and asked him how he was doing. The young man developed a burning desire after that day to seek out this man and he eventually became his student and learned the basics of Islam from him.

It was a smile that brought that confused young man to the light of God. A simple implementation of the practice of our Prophet Muhammad being a smile that brought him to the light of Islam. Who would have every thought that a smile could go so far and it came from the heart connected to the light of God. “Light upon Light.” He lit up his life in a world full of lies and pain because this world can be cold and heartless as they say, the city streets have no pity and it and they can be nothin nice.

It is through learning about the Prophet and how he dealt with people that we can learn to love again and treat our loved ones with respect and a kind word. It is not easy to do but it can be attained. The Prophet Muhammad slw, who had a prayer for everything one could think of including emotional trauma and so forth. We are reminded of the stories of how he dealt with his people including the non-Muslims, the new converts to Islam, travelers, the poor, the passerby, his friends and his loved ones and so on. He took everyone’s situation into consideration and dealt with them with a gentle word and not with harshness as we are so accustomed to these days. As the Prophet said one who is devoid of mercy is not show any mercy (Sahih Muslim). It’s hard to go up to a father who treated you and your family in an inhuman way on a daily basis for years and later when he became sick he needed you. What will we do as Muslims? Let’s let it go because it is time to stop playing victim to depression, anger, hatred, guilt, and greed as our Prophet taught us. As one scholar said, if we were tested with some of the things that Muhammad slw, had to deal with, then we would end up in the puzzle factory wondering what hit us. Because the problem with our new culture is that we can’t handle pressure and we break at the slightest things because we live in a Prozac society of instant gratification.

But Shine your light baby and be all that you can for Allah and his Prophet and help yourself and lead yourself and your family and humanity. And lastly the Prophet said, “Sabr (patience) is a shining glory. The Qur’an is an argument either for you or against you. Everybody goes out in the morning and sells themselves, either setting themselves free or destroying themselves.” It’s time to stop running and hiding between the shadows and the lies wherever that may be for us and to be a light to other people and make the world a better place as the Quran tells us.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth,

The parable of His Light is as if there were a niche,

And within it a Lamp: The Lamp enclosed in Glass;

The glass as it were a brilliant star;

Lit from a blessed Tree,

An Olive, neither of the East nor of the West,

Whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it;

Light upon Light!

Allah doth set forth parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.

Quran 24:35 Al Nur (The Light)

“A Creature Named Time… The Story of the Seeker”

You know he got the cure

But then he went astray

He used to stay awake

To drive the dreams he had away.

He wanted to believe

In the hands of love.

His head it felt heavy

As he cut across the land

A dog started cryin’

Like a broken-hearted man

At the howling wind

He went deeper into black

Deeper into white.

He could see the stars shine

Like nails in the night.

He felt the healing hands of love

Like the stars shiny, shiny from above.

His hand in his pocket

Fingering the steel

The pistol weighed heavy

His heart he couldn’t feel was beating…

So hands that build

Can also pull down

The hands of love.  By Paul David Hewson

(“So, for the second time, the Pharisees summoned the man who had been blind and said:  “Speak the truth before God.  We know this fellow is a sinner.”  “Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,” The man replied.  “All I know is this: Once I was blind and now I can see.” – The New English Bible)

“The Forgiver of sin, the Accepter of repentance, the Stern in punishment, the Bountiful. There is no Allah (God) save Him. Unto Him is the journeying.”  Quran (40:3)

By Faisal Ansari

To be continued…

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