Other Writing

In a rare autobiographical piece, Leila writes about her father 

A Mention of My Father

When my father died, I found it preposterous that we should leave him in a graveyard, that we should cover him with sand and just walk away. He, who used to shower and change twice a day, pat his chin with expensive eau de cologne, wear nothing that was not freshly ironed. Sparkling white shirts without a speck of dust, the fashionable suits he travelled in, shining shoes. It seemed to me outrageous that he would be left to fend for himself in the outskirts of Umdurman, without his radio, his Guardian overseas edition, his tiny notebook in which he wrote in careful beautiful script the telephone numbers of everyone he valued. 

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New in Town Etc. Flash Fiction published in Enkare Review

New in Town
I pushed open the door that said ‘Black Bastards’ in pen, and stepped into the mosque.  A woman was taking off her shoes, untying laces, left shoe then right.  I greeted her and after she replied, I said, ‘Where can I get soap and water to wipe what’s written on the door?’
She said, ‘Leave it now, we must be quick’.
I took off my shoes and hurried after her down corridors thick with toddlers, little girls in long braids, fights over bubble-gum.
When I reached the hall, I heard the imam say in a loud voice, ‘Straighten the lines! Straighten the lines and pray as if this is the last prayer.’

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Leila Aboulela examines Time and its tricks in Pinpricks published by the Saturday Rumpus.

Time is king. Believers, agnostics or atheists—humans or not: time rules us. We submit to it, surrender to it, and are shaped by it. There is no escape from it except to it. It carries us whether we resist or not. In every increment that passes, consciously or not, we bow.
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The Enemy Within by Sayeeda Warsi review

The Enemy Within by Sayeeda Warsi review – a thrilling and satisfying polemic.
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Why must Britain’s young Muslims live with this unjust suspicion?

In Britain, young Muslims are made to feel that they are on the wrong side, forced to constantly explain and apologise for extremism in which they have no part.

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Restraint? Sure. Oppression? Hardly

In this article specially commissioned by the Washington Post for the Through My Eyes column, Leila Aboulela writes about prejudice against the veil, the changes in Muslim societies and how Islam restraints not only women, but men too.

The West believes that Islam oppresses women. But as a Muslim, descended from generations of Muslims, I have a different story to tell. It starts like this: You say, “The sea is salty.” I say, “But it is blue and full of fish.” I am not objective about Islam, and although I am considerably Westernized, I can never truly see it through Western eyes. I am in this religion. It is in me. And articulating the intimacy of faith and the experience of worship to a Western audience is a challenge and a discovery.

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The Sea Warrior

This play, set on an oil rig in the North Sea, was first produced for radio and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on 21st May, 2001.

SC1. EXT. Magical, languid, sounds of the sea but they are slowly and steadily invaded by the harsh screech of seagulls and the rising hum of busy, purpose- full machinery. The hum of machinery resembles the exaggerated hum of refrigerators.

Nafisa: (voice-over) He kept pestering me. Talking about things I had pushed to the margins, things I wanted to forget. He kept pestering me and getting in the way … and I can’t be sorry for what happened to him at the end.

‘Do you think’, he asked me, ‘there’s a giant camera filming everything we do and say?’ ‘You mean here on the rig’, I said, ‘for safety reasons.’ ‘No, I mean all the time’, he said. At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about.

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