Sûrah LXXXIV
THE SUNDERING
"What aileth them, then, that they believe not?"

84
SMITHEREENS

ZAHRA

I once was chosen, we would say "honored," to perform a hallowed action. Bride of Blood, Shaheed—meaning martyr—was to be my vaunted name. A man, an enemy of Islam, was marked for death—a mahdur addamm. It was him for whom my training made of me a Mutasseb—the one who holds an evil-doer to account. At this I failed.

FRANCHONE

So you're a...

ZAHRA

"Terrorist" is the term applied by those of shallow learning, disbelievers who concern themselves with this world, not the next. The me'erage or journey to Paradise, wherein towheed is regained, eludes them always and forever; they lack tam'yeez, it is said, and thus cannot discriminate right from wrong.

FRANCHONE

Uh huh. Like me?

ZAHRA

I meant like I... who did not detonate. I was seated on a plane, my womb an overstuffed receptacle for explosives. Yes, perverse. To spoil a virgin, make her pregnant with fatality, desecrates maidenhood. I was destined to give birth to life's antithesis. I refused. And I have called my Faith into question ever since.

FRANCHONE

As well you should. I've never heard of such a fucked up rationale for wholesale murder; I assume the plane had passengers—you know, moms and dads and kids—who you'd have 'incidentally' blown to Kingdom Come?

ZAHRA

"Collateral damage" is the term—for which your country sets the standard. I admit, though, it reveals a moral flaw.

She sighs, despairingly, vents an introspective utterance stirred by the crumpled farewell letter as she scans its tear-stained parchment for the consequential phrase...

that the innocents go unscathed

... which caused her righteous path to veer, and thus desert the ranks of Allah's Army.