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Muhammad A. Al Mahdi

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The accidental marriage of a religious scholar to Sheikha Whoosh
By Muhammad A. Al Mahdi
Friday, April 15, 2005

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In response to Regis Auffray's story about a similarly named person I have pointed out that there needs to be an Islamic, Shari'a-based version of "Whoosh". This is it.

It needs to be pointed out as well that this is in no way autobiographical though the breakfast is truly a problem.


The accidetal marriage of a religious scholar to Sheikha Whoosh (also known as Cheikha Ououche)

The text presented below has been ruled legally readable by a subsequent fatwa by Sheikh Muhammad A. Al Mahdi under the provision that the reader apply extreme forms of self-censorship.

In the interest of preventing the occurence of similar incidents, however, we advice that this story must not, under any circumstances, be read.



In the aftermath of a khamsin I was troubled by headache (since we all know what a khamsin is it would be a waste of breath to explain it; the same is true of headache). So I requested the muadhin to go slow with the adhan and call to prayer but softly. As I was (then) the mosque's administrator and Chief Imam (Chief Imam being a recently imported title) and the muadhin was an immediate member of my family -in fact, one of those who depended on me eventhough I myself hardly had any income- he had to obey me. So it happened that nobody heard the adhan so that when I opened the gates of the mosque I found nobody hastening to prayer but a strange woman covered in two layers of a black hijab (my favourite colour),  a woman I had never seen before. A bad sign!

With her eyes covered by the two layers of clothe, her sight, for some reason, seemed to be suffering a slight restriction. So when I greeted her, she inquired: "Excuse me, Sir, I am looking for the mosque."

"Rejoice, ya Madame", I responded, "You have attained your goal. The mosque is right before you." It seemed to me as if I heard a repressed giggle but I dismissed the impression thinking my headache to be the cause of it( you will remember the headache of which I initially complained). Having drawn the conclusion she might not be able to see properly from the nature of her question, I stepped aside for her to enter so as not to provoke an indecency by having her go right ahead and thus collide with me. I accompanied the move with an inviting gesture attaching to it the polite phrase: "May it please you..."

Upon this invitation she praised Allah and made her way into the mosque, her head barely missing the wall. I thought at that moment she wouldn't have done wrong resorting to the kind of hijab that leaves some space for your eyes but when she had entered and threw back the two layers covering her face, I understood why her eyes had to be covered. It were eyes that revealed all her secrets, the most dreadful one of all being that she was -dare I say it- a woman.

Unsettled by the sudden awareness of so intimate a knowledge, I couldn't help inquiring of her name. When upon hearing me pose this question she realised that I was still in her presence, she quickly pulled the hijab back over her face, and so, the first part of her answer being obscured by the movement of the redescending hijab while the second was numbed by the hijab itself, her answer sounded something like: "Whoosh" (perhaps there were also some remainders of sand left between her teeth from the khamsin). In actuality she had meant to say: "Ma 'arifush" (indicating she did not know it, namely the name), for in the cause of a car accident shortly before she failed to obtain her driving licence she suffered from amnesia, which may also account for some of the strange behaviour she displayed subsequently. I knew better than ask twice and proceeded to quickly think of a polite phrase to welcome her. So I said: "Allah's house is your house and Allah's servant is your servant." for lack of any better inspiration, adding politely: "You are most welcome."

As if she had taken this literally, she responded with the question: "Do you have a shower in here?"

I replied: "Incidentally we indeed have something that may substitute for a shower. It is a small room in which a traveller may perform ghusl (which is, as we all know, a full ablution necessitated by a number of reasons such as a woman's concluding her monthly joys or contact with the dead as opposed to the partial ablution required before every prayer)".

"I'm a traveller indeed", the woman said, " and I have just completed-- you know what."

With the conversation taking this unexpected turn and in remembrance of her eyes, I added in my mind: "And I will soon make contact with the dead." How will I do this? In the simplest way of course: by droping dead! It doesn't take much at times, and my headache had already vanished as if it had never existed.

But she went on with her investigation: "Do you have hot water?"

"Yes, of course not", I answered in utter confusion.

"Does this mean I have to take a cold shower?", she retorted.

A cold shower was indeed what I would have needed at that moment. Being at a loss of words, I said: "By the Lord of the Ka'aba: my statement indeed implies what you just expressed. We are creatures of Allah and to HIM we shall return."

"Then, at least, let us not waste time.", she responded, "Where is the shower? I hope you do have some French soap?"

I told her that French soap was our speciality and described the way to the shower room. She headed straight for it. Without the two layers of clothe covering her eyes she apparently could see very well. No wonder with those eyes! May Allah forgive us all!

What I am telling you now will be difficult for you to believe and yet, it is nothing but the truth. But is not the truth always that which is most difficult to believe?

Not long after she had entered the shower, I heard her voice calling out for me: "Sheikh! Ya 'am Sheikh!" This voice was so urgent in its demand that I was left with no choice other than follow it. Having reached the room where the shower was and having made my presence known to her by means of a soft knock, the door opened. A bucket was flung at me. The door was closed again and through the closed door she said softly: "O dearest of people, mind you: the water is too cold! This state of its is barring me from enjoying my ghusl. Would it be too much of an inconvenience to you if I asked you to heat some water for me? Heat it in such a way that it will be neither too hot nor too cold, well-tempered and inviting, with the softness of a warm rain in spring, a pleasure to the skin and a caress to the heart, joyful as the voice of a dear lover with the tenderness of a white dove bathed in milk! May Allah keep you, Sheikh, and may you live on forever!"

Although this was a prayer difficult to be granted, I responded "Amin" and took up the bucket preparing myself to heat some water exactly the way she requested. I did so wondering who this lady was and how she had come to know everything about the different states and qualities of warm water. But there are questions the answer to which we will never know. How much more so if even she herself was deprived of it by amnesia.

Heating the water for sister Whoosh, I remembered a very old song from the repertoire of Farid Al Attrash called "Hikayat Gharami". Putting my finger in the water to probe its temperature, I started to sing the song but had to discover that I remembered but one line, namely "Hikayat Gharami". So I kept singing:

"Ya Hikayat Gharamni

Ya Hikayat Gharami

Ya Hikayat Gharami

...." (you have no idea how sweet our Arabic language is if you command it) with my finger held out into the water reacting with sensitive changes in the modulation of words and musical expression to each slight change of the water's temperature and state until I started to add:

"Ya layli

Ya 'ayni"

 when I felt that gradually the liquid approached the desired state. I knew the result would satisfy her and proudly made my way back to the shower.

In the mean time she had got dressed again and was now in a position to receive me. As if intent on killing me she had left her face uncovered, though. For the sake of sparing your lives, I will not describe it. If you are a lady and you think yourself to be beautiful, forget about it! You can't compare yourself to her. Her eyes alone -eyes the colour of which, depending on the angle in which the light incides, alternated between black and green- were keys to every hidden world there has ever been. And what treasures they held! Arusu'l Arayis herself -may Allah avert the evil eye!- was no match for her, and moreover she was free of that woman's evil intentions, for her fate was one of pure joy and her head was pure as the wild honey of Hajjar.

As I put the bucket before her, she put her probing finger in the water at exactly the same spot where mere minutes ago I had put my own and, perfectly satisfied with the service rendered to her, she said with an ingratiating smile: "Anta bid-Dunya 'andi." (for translations contact the Institute for the Education and Promotion of Female Students in Afro-Asia, Department of Languages where they will tell you that the phrase translates "You are the world to me", which is an idiomatic reference to the high esteem in which, for one reason or another, you may hold a particular person). To avoid her eyes which had an effect on me the severity of which increased with every second, I closed my own. This aroused a smile of glad humilitude on the two blessed shores of her lips the complexion of which was that of cherry-coloured velvet which in its genuineness was so intense that it penetrated even my closed eyes. It may thus be assumed even a blind man would have fallen for her beauty. But not so me, I determined. I would not fall. There could be no doubt that I would under any circumstances retain the impenetrable self-control for which I am known (ask Hamdiya[but do it politely]).

With a renewed manifestation of her gratitude she took up the bucket and walked back into the room, softly but firmly closing the door behind her. Knowing that inside, behind the wall and the closed door she was for a repeated time undergoing the silent ritual of removing her dress, I closed my eyes once more, for inspite of the walls and doors separating us and barring me from any possible sight of the piercing beauty of what our Lord has created, I was afraid her radiance would  find its way into my heart straight across all the obstacles, thus wounding it forever.

What shall I tell you: not more than a few minutes afterwards I heard that sweet, melodic voice of hers again: "Forgive my talking to you in this state, o Sheikh, but a merciless fate has caused me to forget equipping myself with a towel when I entered this shower. Without a tower at my disposal, though, I will never be able to dry myself and might suffer a cold. It is these deplorable circumstances that motivate me to ask you if perhaps, in a supreme act of self-denial and nobility -a nobility of which I have come to know that it is so characteristic of you- you might agree to fetch me a towel, o most generous of hosts?"

"Ya Sitti Hayyati, I'm at your service.", I replied, desparately asking my self where this would end.

I went to fetch the towel, quickly sprinkling it with some perfume so as to render it fit for her use. Since there was no way of surrendering the towel to her other than entering the room where she was and since, by the influence of the water, she had become wet and could not leave the shower, I had to go inside and reach out for that place. It happened that her beauty care was very intensive and so she had already made extensive use of the French soap. The remainders of this soap coinciding with the effects of the water made the floor somewhat slippery and -as you may have guessed- I speeded into the room with closed eyes intent on a quick conclusion of this somewhat awkwardly inappropriate situation in which an act of humanitarian concern had put me. As a result of the dreadful interaction of all those factors, I slipped out with my hands stretched out to offer her the towel and, slipping, I fell straight into her arms. Forced by the fall to seek hold, I found nothing to cling to but that which I am afraid to relate and she, too, being forced to support me lest we might both have fallen and be injured -possibly even fatally wounded- put her soft and tender arms around me.

What an incident! Ya 'Ibad Allah! It all happened only with the best of intentions, namely with no intention at all. I even had to open my eyes!

Struck by the devastating turn our encounter had taken, I addressed her: "Our integrity and honour has been compromised beyond rescue."

"Indeed", she confirmed, "You speak the truth. What happened just now has firmly undermined the pillars on which our reputations rest. We will never be able to consider ourselves honourable people again. Even if we choose never to expose it to anyone, Allah has witnessed it and the two of us as well will remain living witnesses to this dilemma as long as we remain alive. Suicide, too, for religious reasons, must be firmly ruled out."

"What else is left for us after this incident but marriage?", I ventured.

"Then at least", she agreed, "let us not waste time."

She suggested to opt for a modest celebration involving only two of the neighbouring villages and asked for the ceremony to be performed tonight provided we could summon everybody on time so they could be witnesses.

"There's no problem about that", I replied, "But what about your family?"

"I would have invited them“, she conceded, "But due to my amnesia I cannot remember who they are."

Equipped with a medical knowledge that told me amnesia was not to be regarded as mental incapacity and should thus not be legally interpreted as such, I agreed and, after finally having observed the prayer, quickly went out to summon the witnesses and arrange for the wedding. Blissfully, her amnesia had not been complete so it allowed her to recall that she had never been married before. It is with greatest satisfaction that I am stating I afterwards found her in a state that left no doubt about the accuracy of her memory in this point. Since I could not easily conduct my own wedding (though I have actually done it once in a previous instance), I asked the muadhin to do it. Being a dependent family member, he had no choice but obey.

In preparation of our wedding night I  went to the suq to purchase enough roses to cover the floor of the room in which we were going to share our joy and quickly assembled ninety nine virgins to remove their thorns promising them that each thorn removed would bring them one step closer to their own marriage. Having offered this perspective, the speed of the work was assured. But the thorns were very long and stung their fingers so that they were unable to do sewing work for nearly a week thereafter. Even so, the work was done and having the work done was all that mattered.

Happily married we entered our room to celebrate our wedding night. I yet had to find out what her name was and where she had come from but that task could be completed later. The room was enriched with the aroma of incenses and heavy with the scent of the roses covering its floor. Smilingly she sent her eyes out to meet mine and said: "O sweetheart, when I first saw you, I knew you would be my fate." I put my arms around her and smiled in confirmation: "Our fate has been gracious." Soon I was to find out that not only her words but also her tongue itself was sweet as rose water. As she settled down in our bed of roses I sent my lips out to meet hers and... and.. and...-- and , damn it all! I woke up.

My eyes heavy and a bitter, disappointed taste in my mouth, I woke up only to find that my wife, Maimuna, once again had forgotten to prepare breakfast. Only Allah knows what I have suffered by her hand.




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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 4/30/2011
I did not realize that my story about "Whoosh" had inspired this, Mahdi. Thank you for sharing your wit and humor. Love and peace to you,

Reviewed by m j hollingshead 4/20/2005
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by M. B. 4/19/2005
As always, Mahdi, your stories are clever, with a twist and a point.

~ Mari
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/16/2005
excellent write, muhammad; well done, my friend!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in america, karen lynn in texas. :D
Reviewed by Nordette Adams 4/15/2005
A very amusing, entertaining write, Muhammad. I went over and read Regis' first so I'd know what inspired this one. I suppose I also got a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into strict Islamic culture. ~~Nordette

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