Sûrah XXX
THE ROMANS
"Corruption doth appear on the land and sea because of the evil which men's hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return."

30
WHEN IN ROME

1. What Americans fail to understand about Muslims is we are nothing. We are slaves unto Allah, whose vast Hereafter we would gain. We do this foremost through our firm belief that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His Prophet; next comes prayer; giving alms; then fasting; lastly pilgrimage onto Mecca, which, if able, Muslims make. These are our requisites; these are pillars of our all-or-nothing Faith. To question any is, forever, to be damned.

2. My sorry state.

3. In California, life is different. Like a self-enchanted island, California floats on a pristine surface lost, adrift, unruled, defined by winds that blow from the world's four corners, ushering grand illusions, silly pipedreams—often beautiful, true, but woefully insubstantial.

4. Sin prevails.

5. There is but little sense of homage. Western people praise themselves; they worship naught save "human rights" and "individuality"—America's battle cries, making hubris seem heroic while discrediting humility.

6. Allah is, alone, the Mighty, the Wise, the Sublime Similitude. "Unto Him belongeth whosoever is in the heavens and in the earth."

7. How disbelieve?

8. Whereas the Christians and the Jews of old adhered to strict commandments, evil falsifiers warped the Word, idolaters misconstrued it, and the wickedly self-invested further bent its shape, until the voice of Allah struck the ears of those astray as harsh. Muhammad's scrupulous recitation, so uplifting to the faithful, sounded death-knells to the self-important, put gods in place of God through utter arrogance, utter foolishness, latterly made manifest.

9. Look around you.

10. Does not Man transgress on Nature to indulge his short-term ends—in the name of Progress, or Development, or Technology? This offends, in that capacity for inventiveness, like capacity for destructiveness, must be weighed against some standard. You use profit, in the West; we in the East observe hodood which marks the limits of behavior set by Al Qur'ân—immortal truths extant as every newborn's heartbeat.

11. Too few heed.

12. And fewer still will know the Paradise trust in Allah can bestow, thus gain admittance to the Garden, underneath which rivers flow, that every Muslim deems the only goal worth realizing.

Z, with disesteem, regards her mismatched Western clothes:
her holey blue jeans (tights beneath for modesty's sake), her blouse and T-shirt (one intended to conceal the other's "CLOSE GUANTANAMO" slogan, both deficient in concealing her zaftig physique), her tattered Nikes, threadbare biker's jacket (brand name Harley Davidson)—Etta's wardrobe, tip to toe, that Z has borrowed, commandeered, perchance to hide (not redefine) her conscience-stricken psyche.

13. I am doomed.

14. Concerns of this world have debarred me from the next. Is too egregious. What can recompense the soul for Life-Everlasting squandered?

15. Allah, save me!

16. Or commend me unto Ahmed, lest I shirk Thy righteous wrath, for it is he who you have sent for my chastisement. Let him slay me. Let my death be my forgiveness, in Thine eyes. Direct his hand. And note how steadfast is your penitential servant.

17. I submit.

18. Thy Will be done.

Z turns her wayward steps toward home.