Sûrah LV
THE BENEFICENT
"And when the heaven splitteth asunder and becometh rosy like red hide..."

55
BENEFICIARY

Moons betimes have moons themselves, obscure celestial bodies often overlooked by those who nightly contemplate spans of sky, their locus lurking in the shadows of the shadowers, all but hidden. Ahmed's presence (undetectable, save by intuition's eye) has caused a stir in him who stops:

to scan the windows and the rooftops of apartment buildings opposite, then cast apprehensive glances left and right at those behind—the while confronted by another wait of indeterminate length wherein he fidgets, checks his fingernails, picks his nose, reties a shoelace, sheds his sports coat, folds it, cushions his rump as he wearily takes a seat, then shifts position into the sunshine, hikes a pant leg, pokes his knee, leans back on elbows (knee exposed still, chin dropped) napping (fast asleep?) except the slits between his fluttering lashes maintain wary vigilance; it is obvious that the watcher, being watched, is ill at ease, alert for any and all who venture to or from a certain flat to which the girl he clumsily tailed has run aground.

Another roommate?

In and out, the faces come and go, as they have for several days now; none is Zahra's. Hiding out, no doubt, she earns but a fleeting respite from his dogged prosecution; Ahmed, all the more determined to inflict a fierce revenge, is out of patience, malcontented with this long-drawn-out delay.

What bodes yon Negro with his amateur surveillance? Is he not the very man who foiled the plot that irksome day when Zahra surfaced, dodged the Muhtasseb's chance at last to hold her liable? Why behave so surreptitiously toward the ones who dwell within, the home of Rahnavard's childish bodyguards—dilettantes, all of them, Satan's surrogates.

Does he fancy her with hoary hair; why stalk her? Why not leave? The cat that knows the sparrow's nesting place can make its kill at leisure. Or, is he who waits and watches much like him who waits and watches—albeit awkward, overeager, worried his prey might spook and flee?

How many months, then, might it take to get this close again? Unthinkable! She is near, and must reveal herself. Even vermin have to breathe.

For she who vowed to be the slave of Allah, swore it then renounced it, is surely an apostate, lowlier than the lowest. Fie, confess!

"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"

For she who won her way through privilege to the bosom of their Brotherhood, learned its rituals, pledged allegiance, only to shame it from afar, is like a louse that must be crushed with neither sympathy nor compassion. Fie, repent!

"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"

For she who lay in fornication with her same-sex partner brazenly, un-contrite, indeed audacious in her loose, unnatural sport, deserves such mortal castigation as to bring a jinn infirmity. Fie, regret!

"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"

For she who profited from his tutelage (to the detriment of his honor), having mastered twofold disciplines—Allah's Sword and Modesty's Veil—did testify falsely, her unworthiness made self-evident by her failure to fulfill a martyr's mandate, merits nothing short of death induced protractedly. Fie, beware!

"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"

For she who spurned his noble overtures, scoffed and laughed at his intentions—though they faltered whence he tried to give them voice—eschewed desire to wed their strengths, combine his courage, her endowments, propagate sons... his throth demolished by her mute rebuke, her class-engendered snobbery, her exalted, over-educated, high-and-mighty airs; these grounds alone endorsed the retribution Ahmed would exact upon a highbrow bitch whose pain would prove excruciating. Fie, prepare!

"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"

The hashasheen surveys the street below (through a pawn-shop-purchased telescope) with a bloodshot (lack-of-sleep betraying) astigmatic eye. The act redundant, ever-vigilant, never wavering, keenly focused, he has studied every detail, willed his target into sight, that he might swoop perchance to pounce perchance to seize, abduct, sequester (it would not suffice to slay in haste; she needs must gravely suffer, feel the brunt of Ahmed's righteous rage before she meets the Other, Him whose Everlasting curse befits her infamy).

There; he stirs! The Negro once again gives chase. Would it be wise to stay or follow? Is this Black man Allah's instrument or the Devil's charred disciple? Does his umbra signify Darkness or Deliverance, Lies or Light?