The Promise Fulfilled

Alan & Joan

Alan & Joan

Since writing my short story for the anthology Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, & Intimacy  – I have been asked many times what my story has become and how things have developed. It has been a hard road, but also one laden with lessons, hardships, and, finally, beauty.

It is bemusing to my family and friends how confused I get about how old I am. This may seem like a simple thing, but honestly I have lost the number. Why? When my wife Joan went into the hospital for the last time it was on my birthday. Obviously there was no celebration or acknowledgement of it. She passed away a week and a half later.

The year after her death I was numb. I do not remember anything from that year. I have pictures of my son during 8th grade, as well as of some other things we did that year – but it is a lot like looking at someone else’s life. Sure, I am in the photographs, but I don’t remember being there.

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For the love of books


We love this story of a beautiful new bookstore in Istanbul and the power of books to build community:

After four years of war, Syrians are everywhere in Istanbul — on street corners, squatting in abandoned buildings. But a new venture run by Syrian and Turkish book lovers aims to be a cultural oasis for Arabic readers, and, along the way, give Turks a fuller picture of the Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans increasingly filling the city.

In a painstakingly restored old wooden house in a working class neighborhood, Syrians, Iraqis and Turks mingled recently amid the shelves of the Pages bookstore.

Read more, here.

In search of Rumi: A Tour of Turkey, May 2014

Illuminated Tours with website

We wanted to let the community know of an extraordinary opportunity to join acclaimed professor and author Omid Safi this May on a tour to beautiful Turkey.

Dr. Safi’s educational tours provide you with an intimate, insider’s look at the rich legacy of Islam and Sufism in Turkey through arts, religion, history, and spirituality. The tour begins in Istanbul and reaches its zenith in Konya, home of the incomparable Sufi poet Rumi, where you will explore the legacy of the Mevlevi order (Whirling Dervishes), and discuss Rumi’s mystical poetry.

There are two options for 2014: A ten-day tour (May 14-24), and a two-week tour (May 25-June 8th).

We know a number of people who joined the tour last year and those who are going this May. “Life-changing” was the description we heard most often. Sign up soon as space is limited. For more information see the website Illuminated Tours or email Dr. Safi at: omidsafi AT gmail [dot] com

All are welcome to join!

Faith, Marriage, and Scrabble


My fiancé Ahmed came to the US from his native Turkey in part to escape from the societal pressures of his culture. This resonated with me, because I left small-town Oklahoma for a similar reason. We both wanted to make our way in the world unfettered by other people’s expectations.

But, when it came time for him to propose, he ran it by his family. Naturally, they asked if I was a Muslim. When he said no, they gave him the skeptical eye, which annoyed him to no end. But he loved them and wanted to explain his decision in a language they could appreciate.

“One Surah of the Quran,” he told them, “says that sometimes what seems good is actually bad, and what seems bad is actually good. Maybe you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing but it is bad for you. Only Allah knows.”

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