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Telling the Story

I’ve made a commitment to commit my Yemeni Journey to paper, and try to get it published in book form, insh’Allaah.

This has become a priority for a number of reasons. One is simply that my heart bleeds for my second home and its beautiful, strong people. Yemen faces so many challenges: political, environmental, cultural and spiritual. It teeters on the brink; and I want to share my story, my Yemen with the people before it is gone entirely.

Another reason is to make people think and feel about something beyond themselves and their own consumer driven lives. The Prophet, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, once said that we should not look at the people who are above us; rather, we should look at those who are below us. To be honest, many of the Yemenis could teach people lessons in generosity, kindness, honesty and so many other intangible, yet incredibly important, things. When speaking just of material things, though, the majority of the Yemeni people live well below what would be considered normal, or even acceptable, to a Westerner. I often tell people that they don’t know poverty until they have seen the poor people of a third world country like Yemen, clawing through the garbage for something to eat or sell, or sitting, head down, begging at a check point or street corner. I want to shake people up, to make them think and to see how so very many of the people in the world live. Hopefully through knowledge will come compassion and action, even if only to make them thankful for what they do have instead of always wishing for what they do not.

Thirdly, Yemen is in the news right now. We hear of the young revolutionaries in Tahrir Square. We hear of drone strikes, suicide bombers, and skirmishes which cost lives weekly, if not daily. We hear of crooked politicians and the endless games they play at the expense of the common man and woman. I want to introduce my readers to the reality behind the news, the people who are lost in the shuffle, to give voice to those who would otherwise remain voiceless, and a face to the ones who would otherwise remain faceless. It has to be harder to hate or denigrate that which is known. The Yemenis don’t deserve to be collateral damage in the games of the big boys. They deserve to be known for who and what they are.

Lastly, I have a story to tell. My story, and it is unique and beautiful and powerful. It is difficult for people to understand how a punk-influenced Catholic girl with a degree in English and Theatre ended up not only Muslim, but a teacher and caller to what is considered a very conservative type of Islaam, and who lived in an unstable third world country for almost a decade.

It’s all about bridges. So many bridges to build.

So many stories to tell.

It’s a journey, one that continues on.

Care to join me?

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