Leila Aboulela Quotes.
My characters are not role-model Muslims, but they struggle to make choices using Muslim logic.
I wanted to be good but I wasn’t sure if I was prepared
The sweetest things in life were not necessarily what one strove for and grabbed. Instead, many many times the All-Merciful, the All-Generous would give His servants without being petitioned, without waiting to be asked.
When I was growing up, we spoke Egyptian, we ate Egyptian food, we had other Egyptian friends. It was my father’s preference.
I grew up in a very westernised environment and went to a private American school. But my personality was shy and quiet, and I wanted to wear the hijab but didn’t have the courage, as I knew my friends would talk me out of it.
It was 1989, and the word ‘Muslim’ wasn’t even really used in Britain at the time; you were either black or Asian.
The coverage of Islam in the media is becoming more sophisticated, and there is more access to knowledge.
All through life there were distinctions – toilets for men, toilets for women; clothes for men, clothes for women – then, at the end, the graves are identical.
Why do bad things happen? For pedagogical reasons, so that we can experience the power of Allah, catch a glimpse of Hell and fear it, so that we can practice seeking refuge in Him and, when relief comes give thanks to His mercy. Darkness was created so that, like plants, we could yearn and turn to the light.
I was 24 years old and stuck in a strange place with two boisterous little boys, and my husband was working offshore on the oil rigs. It was a life for which I wasn’t prepared.
My mum and dad were speaking all the time about, ‘In Sudan we do this,’ and ‘In Egypt we do that,’ so I was very aware of cultural differences. I was confused growing up; it gave me a feeling of being an outsider watching others. But I think this is good for a writer.
I read a lot of fiction.
Sudan is not Arab enough for Arabs and not African enough for Africans.
I started creative writing classes at Aberdeen Central Library, and the writer-in-residence there, Todd McEwen, encouraged me a great deal. He showed my stories to his editor, and I thought that was just what happened to everyone who took his classes!
I write fiction that reflects Islamic logic: fictional worlds where cause and effect are governed by Muslim rationale. However, my characters do not necessarily behave as ‘good’ Muslims; they are not ideals or role models.