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The Sun Magazine

Religion and Philosophy

Islam

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Wrong Imam

If we could have been inside his heart, if we could have been offered transportation from our Jerusalem to his heaven, this is what we might have absorbed: Abkar was not leading us in prayer. He was talking to God while we happened to be behind him, squeezed in so tightly we could hardly find places for our foreheads on flawless plush carpet.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Biblioclast

My father. He wanted me to become a writer, but when I did, he didn’t like what I wrote.

He hated my first novel and called it pornography: it features lots of teenage sex and masturbation, as well as an unsavory portrayal of a narcissistic and selfish patriarch.

The Dog-Eared Page

The Water Carrier

Guru Gobind Singh’s small fort in Anandpur Sahib was besieged by the mighty forces of Emperor Aurangzeb. The emperor, who believed Islam was the only valid, true, and right religion, was forcibly converting Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians. Guru Gobind Singh, however, believed that all humans worshiped in their own unique ways and that all religions, if practiced with love and heart, led to God.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Blues For Allah

I was wrong. Ismail did, in fact, have powerful connections to the band, connections called “Africa” and “exile.” He under­stood what I’d failed to grasp: that when he led Aliya up the narrow stairs of the tour bus, he was leading her back to the deserts of North Africa, where those who have been driven from their homes recognize the longing in one another’s eyes, where unexpected guests are treated like nobility and children like family.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Go Fly A Kite

I was on a trip back home to northern California — part work, part vacation — and I had a terrible head cold. My research for a magazine article on the wine country north of San Francisco had brought me to a chilly town on the edge of the San Andreas Fault, a place populated by a combination of wealthy tourists, ranch hands, and hippie holdouts.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The First Cut

I was raised in a family of four girls. When my sisters and I are together, we speak a private language composed largely of different pitches of laughter that causes our exasperated father to demand to know what’s so funny. I am most at home when I am sharing clothes, secrets, and a bathroom with other women.