Tales from a Mosque (9): The Circle of Islam

The large Austrian city under the Alps, where Imam Faraj’s mosque was built in 1996, was well known with large cultural and arts life. Many galleries in the city center always offered plenty of art exhibitions, historical and contemporary, and various vernissages provided a social part of art, where artists, VIPs, politicans, businessmen and common citizens could meet together, and discuss the collections and single works, plus, with a glass of champagne in their hands, to make interesting contacts and business deals, even to meet future lovers.

At one of those hypermodern establishments, designed boldly by a famous Persian architect and using only glass, steel and concrete as building materials, a large crowd of well dressed people in festive mood just gathered. It was around eight o’clock at the evening, and everybody was anxious, as this upcoming event was commented by the media as one of the key moments of the present year for the local cultural scene.

A distinctive, slim and tall woman in her early 30s, former fashion model and Miss Austria 2002 beauty contest participant, who stood in the center of local VIPs, dressed in a luxurious Dior robe, was fully aware of such desirably sharpened attention, and she enjoyed it. She understood well, that commotion and publicity are necessary keys to sell your art successfully: so she mastered the media game through years of her artistic career, making valuable contacts in the newspapers, so everything she has done had desirable media attention, and social impact.

Another rule was, never to start at time, to strengthen the tension and expectations, plus to force people to meet others and make introductions, to relax from their common affairs outside. Now, it was already half of an hour after originally announced beginning of the event, and the large hall was full of noise, excited chatter and tinkling wine glasses: indeed, some of the visitors passed their time by ordering another, and it was good for the overall relaxed mood of the event.

The woman checked her Dior wrist watch: it was a proper time to start now. Not too early, to look cheap; not too late, to look too manipulative.

“Dear friends,” the smiling woman took a microphone and started her speech without any sign of hesitation. She waited for a second then, so all heads turned in her direction, and all noise stopped.

“I would like to welcome you at this modest vernissage of my latest collection, and I hope, that everyone of you will find something close to his or her heart at my displayed paintings, to feel something again, maybe after a long time, to relax from endless consuming, to find inner peace, to realize, that we are the lucky and blessed ones, who are still alive, with chances of fulfilling and living our dreams,” she introduced her works with emotional intensity, causing the first appreciation and applause of the audience. Raising emotions in people, it was the key to success.

She started the introduction without saying her name, as everybody knew her here, she was a respected celebrity in the whole Austria, even abroad, making success in the United States and London, in famous Saatchi Gallery. If your work made all the long way there, you could know, that you are an artistic elite: but for the woman, success was a natural part of her life. She was born under a lucky star, as people said about her without envy.

“You see, any art collection always reflects the moods and feelings of its author, and the same happened to me this time, and very deeply. So I challenge you, to search for the clues in the paintings, and to discover, which exact feelings it were,” she tempted the audience, playing her game well, as everybody loves quizzes and searching for hidden clues. The correct answers were “Love” and “Future”.

“But I can give you a small hint maybe,” she promised to reveal a secret, and the audience was fully attentive suddenly, as people love secrets.

“Eight years ago, I met a man, who really didn’t impressed me at the first moment,” she said the secret, and the audience smiled, particularly women. “Who would say, that tomorrow… no, enough of hints, discover it all yourself, let’s start already!”

Suddenly, an averagely dressed and averagely looking man came to her, pretending to be lost, and the presenting woman pretended not to know him, amusing everybody. “Who is this? Does anyone know this man? No? I hear many voices here at the first rows, that he most likely doesn’t belong here! The tram stop is the other way, mister!”

But the man remained calm, saying with excessive emotion: “When I listened to you, Fräulein, I fell in love with you at the first sight, realizing, that you are the woman of my life. And as a man of honor, I can’t hide my feelings anymore, so I am asking you: would you marry me?”

“No! No way!” the young female painter absolutely denied the silly idea, and the audience exploded in sincere laugher.

In reality, the man was one of the biggest Austrian business aces, an industrial tycoon, who came here from the U.S. many years ago, and except massive business and social success, he also successfully hunted down an Austrian doe from a very good breed.

“OK, maybe I will,” the woman admitted after a while. “But I am saying it just to repel any other foolish suggestions like this! This is an art vernissage, we are here because of the paintings, it’s not some post office, you fool…”

The funny scene yet continued, but Fatima, a female aide of Imam Faraj, she stopped listening, just feeling the sweaty, jolly crowd around her. VIPs and losers alike, the alcohol and crowd psychology started creating a pack of animals from them, and Fatima could see their transformation from decent, well educated men and women to something disgusting for her.

Yes, they were infidels, non-believers, in the first place. They were obsessed with their desires, they drank alcoholic beverages, and she was a devoted Muslim, serving in the mosque… ‘Oh, Allah, what demanding test you prepared for me,’ she thought with disgust.

Maybe she was in the purely Islamic environment for too long. She just had a hard time for any tolerance, seeing everything, feeling the dirty energy around her. But Imam Faraj from her mosque wouldn’t like this negative approach, and Pope Francis too: these men always talked about religious tolerance, acceptance and even love. But how could Fatima love and accept these decadent, faithless people around her, who worshipped the most questionable values, who lived empty lives, ruled by their animal egos?

If they could know her thoughts, they would certainly say to her: ‘So, why did you come here, woman? Why don’t you return to Yemen, if you don’t like our lands, where the freedom rules?’

But asking these silly questions, they would only confirm, that they don’t understand Islam, the only complete and perfected religion, superior to all others. Then, how can you deny a feeling of superiority, if you are a follower of Allah, reflecting His ultimate strength and might? On the street, it was different, everybody minded his or her business… but here, in the single crowd of kaffirs, Fatima saw all deep differences immediately.

Inside her, she felt denial, but her face was full of forced smiles, to play her role well, as she came here for a mission, to save the mosque. So she talked with Layla and other people, pretending to be a modern, tolerant Muslim woman, opened to foregin influences, beliefs and mindsets, she even commented the kaffir paintings like some idiot, to seem ‘attending’… when she had enough, she left her friend and moved to the bar, she took a glass of water to refresh herself, to regain control of the action.

It was quite easy to get here in the end. Although there were two hostesses at the entrance, together with some intimidating muscular men with their hair very short, no one tried to stop or check Fatima and Layla, who looked like two Islamic queens, perfectly dressed, dignified and proud, simply impressive, raising respect. So the kaffir girls, holding the list of invited persons, just smiled, and cleared the way for them without any word.

Now, when Fatima had some personal space again, and the crowd around disbanded into smaller discussing groups, she felt more calm, balanced and concentrated again. She even stepped in front of a painting, this time without any prejudice and disdain.

It was called “The New Europe”. It looked like an island, surrounded by sea, with a small city on it, with a church in the middle, placed on a hummock. Behind its tower, where the bells seemed dinging, the sun was rising, or descending… who could say, when millions of refugees were just heading for Europe, changing the continent once and forever, importing Islam in masses, raising fear in the old inhabitants?

“Do you like it?” a soft female voice could be heard beside Fatima, who had her eyes only for the picture, deeply thinking.

She turned her head, realizing, that it was the painter herself.

In the first moment, Fatima wanted to smile like an idiot again, saying something like “Of course!”, “Beautiful!”, “Impressive!” or similar cheap reply which was expected, but then she remembered Allah, and who she was.

“One thing is missing there,” Fatima returned back to the painting, her voice cold, as an ice. “It’s a mosque.”

The female painter, Kathrin Von Manndorff, scanned Fatima with her green eyes: isn’t she some Islamic fanatic, coming here to disrupt the vernissage, or something? But Fatima seemed calm and not aggressive, minding her own business.

“I don’t remember we were introduced, Frau…” Kathrin decided to find out, what is the Muslim woman doing here.

“My name is Fatima Al-Hamdani, I work in the local mosque,” Fatima replied her shortly, giving the other woman one cold look of her heavily made-up eyes.

In her special kind of work, Kathrin Von Mandorff was used to meet many different people, including nationwide VIPs, but rarely the Muslim women. This was something new for her, and she was thinking, whether Fatima could be an asset for her purposes, as in the city, there were many talks of rising Islamic influence in all matters, including politics.

“Thank you, that you came, Fatima! Enjoy the exhibition, we will talk later maybe,” Kathrin said finally, and moved to her fiancé, catching his elbow and taking him away from his joyful company of men, dressed in business suits, highly positioned business executives.

“Listen, Anthony, do you know that Muslim woman out there?” she indicated the direction to Fatima, still standing near the painting.

“I noticed her. She looks serious. You were just talking to her, no? What did you find out?” the man replied.

“Hard to say. Allegedly, she works in the local mosque. Who could invite her? I checked the last version of the list of invitees, and I don’t remember seeing her name there. Is she a gate-crasher, or what? Strange,” Kathrin was thinking.

“Maybe you should be glad, that she is here. We could make a good media tale from it. It’s you who always says, that ‘publicity never hurts’. Some of our journalistic assets could write tommorow, that even Muslims admire you, the famous Austrian contemporary painter, an associate professor at University at Vienna! You could get many social points, and you could get more social power,” Anthony sounded really ruthless now, absolutely not reminding that modest lost fool in the beginning of the show. This was his real face: calculating coldly, executing bold moves like a general Napoleon, his secret idol.

“Maybe she came to beg for our support. I read in the newspapers recently, that they want to raze the mosque, to create a public park there instead, as the citizens want. Maybe we should go to talk with her together, to find, what she wants exactly,” Kathrin suggested.

“She could be useful indeed,” Anthony was thinking loudly, still watching Fatima. “As a cat’s pawn against my enemies from local municipal office! That rats still owe me! Do you remember, that they killed my ultimate construction project on the main square? That ‘Glass House’, a new dominant of the city? It was planned as a hundred million dollar investment, and now it was stopped, and my investors are getting nervous and angry, considering to pull out their assets from the project, and it would really damage my business reputation!

I am thinking: if the Muslims have problem with the mosque, and municipal office goes after them now… what happens, if we will indicate some unclear, potential support for them? Something like a ‘religious dialog’, or similar leftist Public Relations bullshit… but the public will see, that we joined forces against the damned politicians, and odds have changed. What will happen then?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Kathrin hesitated. “We shouldn’t get involved into politics. It’s a foul, nasty game, without rules, head fall there every day… you always used middle men as pawns, so why to risk our heads directly this time?”

“And art is a better world?” Anthony wondered, and smiled with irony. “All that slanders and hatred and envy you narrate me about every evening, crying into the pillow? I want that building, I really want it, sweetie, there is too much interests, and not only financial ones!

I want to change this city forever! Call it a crazy dream, but I want to leave the mark here forever! In hundred years from now, who will remember me? Money come and go, your body and dreams come and go. But if the Glass House will stand there, bold, proud and shining, even long after my demise, I will be always remembered! My name will remain alive in these lands! I will become eternal in certain way. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’… so let’s build a house, a big one, when you still have a time!”

“You men, and your silly dangerous dreams… you could damage us both with choosing these new questionable allies,” Kathrin still disagreed. She liked to play rather a soft, distant, careful, safe game.

“Honey, I know, what I am doing,” the fiancé insisted, and tried to calm Kathrin down. “You know what? She is still standing there, go to her, right now, and ask her to come here, that I would like to meet with her! I am sure, that she will accept the offer and she won’t be insulted, if she has some secret agenda here, thinking like crazy right now, how to get to us!

The media and people will notice, that she came to us, not the opposite… that Muslims need something from us, that they are maybe offering an alliance openly, they perceive us as strong, mighty partners, able to help them in their cause!

It will give me very good position for negotiation with the politicians! I will be able to push them against the wall! And maybe they will offer me the permit for building the Glass House, if I will stay away from Muslims, as our two parties joined together could mean a big problem for the Town Hall… Oh, I am so clever! Now I don’t wonder, why you fell in love with me! Go now, brave girl! Do it for the family!”

“She examined a painting, called ‘New Europe’, the one with church and sun,” Kathrin noted. “She said, that a mosque is missing there, and they say in the media, that Islam is the future of the Europe… hmmm, maybe for the future, connecting with them could be beneficial. I am going to talk to her,” she decided.

And she was successful: all four of them met soon. Fatima accepted the invitation, as expected, but she called Layla first, to join her, otherwise it would be unacceptable for her and her dignity.

And now, Fatima was standing in front of Anthony. He was not a tall, rough man, he had no significant physical superiority above her. But this apparent disadvantage learnt him to discover, identify and misuse all possible weaknesses of his enemies and business partners. His business success was not a coincidence: what he lacked in physical appearance, he owned elsewhere, in his bright mind. He was not powerful himself: he was just able to exploit the weak points of others, to his wide advantage.

The introduction was a little bit humiliating process for Anthony, the only man in the group, as his fiancée Kathrin shook hands with both the Muslim women, but he was not allowed to, although he had the highest social power from them all, not counting his vast financial resources. He was known as a man, who was ready to leave any business meeting, which was running not to his liking and his interests. He made no complaints, no attempts to turn the events: he simply walked away, never looking back.

However, meeting Fatima and Layla, he was not insulted, on the contrary, he watched Fatima with increased curiosity, even rising fascination. When she was talking to him, her eyes seemed like made from a glass, not seeing him actually, watching a wall behind him, as Fatima was disallowed to keep longer eye contact with a foreign, unrelated man… but this devotion, unseen in the Western world, really captivated Anthony.

It was really a strange audience before the king.

“Kathrin told me,” Anthony regained his leading position in the group again, watching Fatima attentively, like a hawk, “that you examined the painting, called ‘The New Europe’, remarking, that a mosque is missing there. You mean, that Islam is the future of the Europe?” he opened the conversation without any regards, that discussing religion could be a thin ice, leading to embarrasing moments and conflicts, even violence. But he simply wanted to test his new acquaintances, moreover, he ruled there. And the king can say, whatever he wants.

“That’s absolutely correct statement,” Fatima replied so naturally, even indifferently, that sensitive Kathrin, a Christian, was completely frozen suddenly.

“I would like to know one thing: why is that?” Anthony continued, a glass of champagne in his hand. “Why should we accept your Islamic efforts to spread Islam here? Why won’t you Muslims stay in your countries? Why do you have to import your religion here, to rebuild our churches as mosques, as it’s happening in Britain?”

Kathrin looked at him with fear: what is he saying? There will be troubles, these Muslims are known to be very angry, if anybody insults their religion!

But to the deepest surprise of both infidels, Fatima replied with pleasant smile: “You would understand all these events, and you could foresee the future, mister, if you would be a Muslim. Believe me, that after the conversion, you, a powerful man, leading his small imaginary empire now, you would be literally dying with desire to put your nose and forehead to the ground immediately, to bow and prostrate in front of Allah, as you would realize, that your alleged power is absolutely nothing in comparison with Allah, and submitting your will to Him, becoming His servant and slave, was the best decision of your life.

Your infidel past, full of sins and filth, would be forgiven: you would be granted a new, fresh start, serving to Allah, worshipping Him, becoming His ultimate tool. You would give all your powers and wealth back to Him, voluntarily, as it’s Him anyway, who gave it to you at the first place…

Oh, mister… to experience being a Muslim, it’s a thing! An ultimate adventure! Better than the first orgasm! I was born as a Muslim, so I don’t know the feeling of not being a Muslim, then changing life and becoming one… but people like you, converts, who come to our mosque, they describe marvellous tales of their new lives, something like peeling off a plastic cover from their bodies!

They become someone new, much healthier than before, as many disesases are caused by mind and ego… but if you lose your ego and eternal thinking? If you let Allah to lead your life, if you accept your destiny, created by Him? You are free! Islam is the real freedom!

And praying… did you know, that contact of your head with the ground during an Islamic prayer causes the relief for your brain, full of electronic waves and damage from all that devices around us? Did you know, that scientists found, that Ka’bah is not only the spiritual centre of the Islamic world, but also a factual geographic centre of Earth? And can you imagine, how the precise body ablution, needed for prayers to be valid, five times a day, makes your body healthier?

Everything changes, everything, if you are a Muslim… and then you will understand immediately, mister, why Islam is the best religion, and why it’s the inevitable future of the world.”

When Fatima ended her unexpected presentation about Islamic faith, all three remaining people were quite shocked, from different reasons. Even several bystanders came closer, when Fatima was speaking with her clear, loud, self-confident voice, and it seemed, that they want to listen yet more, to create their opinion of the situation. Anyway, they saw, that she is not bowing in front of the business tycoon, she speaks freely. In the world where everybody wanted to get into his favor, it was something special…

Anthony felt, that things are getting out of his control. Any second he hesitates with an answer now, he loses face. But what could he say as a reply? If he would remain silent, she would seem very powerful, that she took all speech from him. If he would attack her and her religion, he would seem intolerant, and such things are not forgiven in politically correct, multicultural Austria of these days. If he will indicate any kind of agreement with her… he wouldn’t be able to count his new powerful enemies tomorrow.

Fortunately, he found a way out of this situation, and a very elegant one.

“Fatima, Layla, I would be honored, if you would attend our wedding,” he decided, when he noticed a journalist rat, preparing the microphone quickly, to record the reply. “This art exhibition was directed at two values: love, and future. If Islam is the future of Europe, as you say, Fatima… then you Muslims belong there too, we accept it, and you should be present at our wedding as well, to be witnesses of the moment when we will start the future together, under the sign of love.”

“We appreciate your invitation,” Fatima said for both Muslim women, avoiding to say thanks and to be in an inferior position, avoiding any direct answer, obligation and promise.

When Fatima and Layla were leaving, Anthony couldn’t stop watching the beautiful silk abaya of Fatima, decorated with gold.

She seemed like a dream to him, he was so captivated suddenly, so fascinated… when she was talking, she described Islam as a complete paradise, opened even to non-belivers… and it all should become true just by reciting that Shahada?

Was she joking? Was she playing him? But she sounded so real, so genuine! You would believe her immediately, all her promises! You would follow her into the realm of Islam, without any doubt… and then you would thank Allah for guiding you to His eternal light, by sending her, and you would kiss her feet that she showed you the Straight Path!

It was simply something. Anthony, an industrial tycoon who could have any woman around, including top fashion models, was dying to see this secretive Arab woman again, to listen to her again… it was like a drug.

Somewhere deep inside, he felt, that she can’t be trusted, that it’s in her nature to lie to non-believers, she uses all her ultimate female weaponry against him, and he is losing… she uses a simple tactics, she feeds a wolf and she lets him starve, so he comes to her, obedient as a dog… still, it was a beautiful dream, as you could still believe, that in the end, she will be that good one, who was truthful and real… and now, she lives for you, you won her ultimate love, of all men of the world, as she is definitely still a virgin instead!

And Kathrin… for Anthony, yesterday, she was on the pedestal, like a statue, she was a model woman for him, persuading him to leave all male efforts to find a better female in this world, willing to promise her to be and remain with her until the end of life… but now, he had his eyes, ears and mind full of Fatima, he couldn’t stop smelling her heavy parfume, he couldn’t stop seeing her cute small face, so girlish, a small strand of her beautiful black hair, seen out of her hijab… and how firm she was! She would be an ultimate spouse, oh, she would be an ultimate mother of his children…

He could understand now, why the people like her are so devoted, so firm, so hard to defeat. But on the biological level… she was a superior woman for him, than his current choice, and he couldn’t stop his male nature to start pursuing her, even if he will lose everything in the end, she will steal everything from him, including his soul, and then she will disappear, the dream will be over…

She will return to Middle East or where, with chests full of gold, and her family will thank her for good taking care of them, if Allah gave them no sons, or something, like in some Arabic tale: ‘Not only she converted a powerful non-believer to another servant of Allah, she even got generously paid for this, kids! Girls, you are an ultimate weapon of Da’wah, the Islamic missionary activity! One day, you will board vessels to Europe, you will serve Allah there, and then, you will return as heroes, who secured further growth of Islam, together with brothers, who will do the same with kaffir women! No one can stand in your way of truth, with Allah standing behind you, protecting you, blessing you and giving you strength!’

No, Anthony couldn’t remember any similar moment in his life, when a woman enchanted him as much. He caught himself willing to offer her anything, just if she would indicate her favors to him, that he is special, he is not some loser she was sent to convert. It was so humiliating… but still so exciting. That contrary feelings made a great mixture together, your mind was pleased, joyful when dreaming of victory, sad when realizing loss… simply entertained, as never.

And still, he should marry another woman tomorrow… he still haven’t converted to Islam, and he despised all Western women already, including her! It was Fatima who caused it. She was a weapon of Islam.

Even now, without prior conversion, he understood, how right she was, talking about future of Europe under the Islamic flag. Imagine, just one thousand women like her, who will emerge from Middle Eastern deserts, they don’t need any education, just being themselves, they will choose the most powerful men as targets, and soon, European men will write petitions, to change churches to mosques, converting to Islam in masses, just to be closer to their Arabic beauties, who will dump them anyway in the end, as a convert will never have the same value as a born Muslim, or even Arab… but general male mind wanted to believe, that just he is different, and he will succeed in getting love of such ultimate woman, as Fatima seemed to be…

The men will be alone and deserted then, but not for too long: they will realize, that Allah is better than all women and transient worldly desires, He is a patron and protecting friend, never leaving them, protecting them and leading them on the Straight Path, they will thank Him with all their heart, they will appreciate Him, they will love Him, and the circle of Islam will be closed…

Anthony knew, that this event just changed his previous well balanced life irrevocably, it shook it like an earthquake, and there will be most likely no way back, as he won’t be able to forget her, he will be looking for her in the world long after she will be gone, moving to Dubai or Doha or where, pretending to go there for business, just to be closer to Fatima’s ultimate female kind: so inaccessible, so distant, so exciting, if you have an opportunity to meet their well hidden personalities, full of warmth, like some ultimate mothers.

Maybe he will wake up tomorrow, like if nothing happened, everything will be the same, he will marry Kathrin, the tale will continue… but inside him, he knew, that this is just an illusion, as some events and experiences simply can’t be undone… and Allah rules it all, including Fatima… and him?

Now Anthony could feel Allah’s ultimate might himself. If there is an entity as powerful, has it any sense to try to run away, to hide, to pretend, that Western values of liberty and freedom are the only righteous?

He arrived home with his mind still flying in the clouds. When his fiancée Kathrin announced, that she is not feeling well, and she will sleep outside their king size bed, he almost thanked her… to touch her, or to make love with her, would bring no pleasure for him, as he had his head full of a different woman, who seemed to be able to bring paradise on Earth, just by having her in your vicinity.

As he was distracted with his dreams and deep thoughts, he forgot to realize, that Kathrin now simply plays her own female game, pretending to be insulted, that the Middle Eastern woman captivated him so much, Kathrin of course noticed it, and this was a small revenge.

But he simply didn’t care about anyhing in that sacred moment… in fact… he was finally free, and it was Allah, who liberated him through His endless Mercy and Compassion, and His faithful servant, Fatima.

She arrived back at the mosque around eleven, and Imam Faraj was expecting her.

“So?” he asked, apparently without any deeper interest.

“Done,” she said shortly, sitting back into her corner of Islamic Cultural Centre obediently.

“When the Ummah entrusted you this mission, with Allah’s permission, it was sure, that there is no one better than you,” the Imam touched his Qur’an with palm, watching it with deepest affection, instead of Fatima. “Now you can see, what you are capable of, who you really are, why you received your gifts! Remember, there was a time, when you sat in this corner, and you were nobody, an Intelligence operative with empty hands, with nothing to report, retrieving stolen laptops… but now, look, a big game is still played outside the mosque, and you are a part of it, influencing things! A servant of Allah, who changes the world around for His interests, who helps the local people to discover Islam, their only chance for peace, freedom, morality, truth, protection, purity and finding their destiny.

What Countess Von Laubringen made apparently against us, what sent you on this path, with Allah’s guidance… now you see, that she also serves Allah well, without knowing it. She doesn’t have to be converted, she is a servant of Allah right now, doing good deeds. Remember that tomorrow: she was always one of us.”

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Alan Svejk

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