‘Blood, blood everywhere. The feeling was nauseating, and yet no movement could be made’; prologue of a book written by 14-year-old Insha Jesani. Jesani, a Kenyan teenager of Asian extraction wrote this book about the dilemma the Muslim community faces when confronted with terrorism. Since the September 11, 2001 attack by terrorist in the US, a perception has been created that Islam and terrorism are same thing.
Insha Jesani in her book, though a work of fiction, attempts to show how Muslims have become victims of violence and bloodshed perpetrated by people who claim to be Muslims, but depict a character that defies Islamic behavior. All the twenty chapters of the book start with a verse from the Quran. The title of the 220-page novel, Fate of Faith says it all. Does one become guilty by virtue of the faith he is born to? In a paper entitled ‘Debate or Denial’, by Hussein Suroor, published in the Hindu Times of India 2007, the author challenges Muslims to Understand that terrorists are not simply “misguided” individuals acting on a whim but they are people who know what they are doing and are doing it deliberately in the name of Islam.
In the last one week, extremists have killed scores of teachers in Wajir County with the aim causing a rift between Christians and Muslims. They target non-Muslims in the Northern parts of Kenya to make it appear they are fighting for a Muslim course. Insha Jesani’s book is based on a plot reminiscent of the Garissa University attack and the attack on the West Gate Mall in Nairobi. In the Story, Intisar, (fictive character), a mother of two daughters describes the horrific attacks in two of Kenya’s worst terrorist attacks where two of her daughters were killed.
Losing her daughter Hooriya in the University attack was already painful enough, but the loss of her second daughter Aaminah was too much for her to bear. Intisar does not understand why people who claim to be Muslims should kill her two daughters, the only people in her family who were still alive. This description of pain and anger is what many Muslims around the globe go through daily, being victims of terrorist attacks themselves. This is what a ten-year-old Brahima, himself a child soldier tries to ponder about in similar horrifying story from Ahmadou Kourouma, an Ivorian novelist in his book ‘Allah is not obliged’.
Brahima learns a bitter reality that death and destruction are brought upon human beings by people who don’t care about God. Brahima says, Allah is not obliged to be fair about everything he does, implying people who claim they kill in God’s name are not carrying out their actions in God’s name, but out the their free will. Ahmadou Kourouma exonerates God from blame by showing all actions carried by people are on their own fault.
The story in Fate of Faith is a must read for all who want to understand the psychic of an ordinary Muslim when accused of being a sympathizer of terrorist. The main character in this story was herself a victim of such accusation. People accused her also of being a sympathizer and was repeatedly insulted through her blog by people who never understood the pain she went through. To make matters worse, Intisar was herself kidnapped by terrorist making her once again a victim of the very people who killed her two daughters. In this part, like any story book there is suspense; one of the kidnappers is known to her and is actually is her former lover. There are many dots to be connected in this amazing book written by a 14-year-old.
There is no doubt Kenya today faces the worst forms of threat from people who at times just live within our neighborhoods. The threat could come from even people you trust. Like in the case of Edwin and Intisar, previously lovers, one becoming a terrorist. Edwin was rejected by Intisar’s parents when he tried to express his intentions to marry her. He was rejected simply because he was a Christian. The complexity of the issue of Islamic terrorism is revealed in this novel when it becomes apparent that a Christian (Edwin) converted to Islam to kidnap and punish his former lover to avenge his rejection. A Christian turned to Islamic terrorism and maims and kills other Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but Muslims, especially the ordinary ones, get blamed. This is a book I would recommend for Donald Trump. Maybe he could have second thoughts about his travel ban.
Mr. Guleid is a Governance Consultant