Behind and Beyond the Veil


February 2016

Nasir the Hero




Sura Persian Warrior Princess



This blog is another installment of the series dedicated to The Siddiqui Brothers in Cairo. Let’s go back to Shaherazade’s Daughters and an adventure Nasir has with Ezania.

Nasir had no interest in any life that wasn’t his own. He cared about people, of course. However, he saw no need to involve himself in their situations. Yet, he would stand up when necessary. One of these times was with his friend, Ezania. Ezania was beautiful and intelligent, but they never thought to be anything beyond colleagues and well-wishers to each other. They met in the House of Wisdom and respected each other’s work despite Ezania being an alchemist. They would share findings from their experiments and enjoy a good laugh together. Ezania, Nasir, and her lab partner, Jabir shared an unexpected adventure when researching in Damascus.

Khalid and Razi were causing problems for Jabir and Ezania because they were all researching tuberculosis and did not want to be outdone. Khalid and Razi had taken to sabotaging the work of their competitors’ and archrivals. They didn’t anticipate anyone, least of all Nasir, thwarting their plans. Nasir was setting up a lone experiment near Ezania’s and Jabir’s lab. He meticulously set up his telescope at a perfect angle waiting for the sun to set. His adoration and awe for the setting sun never waned throughout his life, and whenever he had the opportunity, he would soak in every moment. He would watch as its rays slowly dimmed around everything in its path.

However, his reverie was interrupted by an explosion a few yards from the lab of Ezania and Jabir. He jumped with a start and darted a glance in the direction of the troublesome noise. He spied Khalid heading towards his friends’ lab. Instantly, Nasir knew he was up to some troublesome mischief. He had to stop him. Quickly he grabbed a part of his telescope and beamed Khalid on the back of the head. He went down and failed in his attempt. Nasir achieved his goal. For a moment, Nasir was afraid he killed the poor rascal. But then, he saw a slight hand movement and was relieved.

Ezania and Jabir found Nasir foiling the attempted sabotage hilarious. Nasir was always the gentlest of the Siddiquis.  His slightly violent act was amusing to them. At the same time, they were grateful their work was saved. Until the end of their time in Damascus, they all worked robustly and with excitement. Khalid and his partner in crime, Razi did as well but stayed conspicuously away from Nasir and the rest of the Siddiquis.

On their way back to Baghdad, Jabir apprised Omar and Jafar of Nasir’s minor, yet important act of heroism. Of course, Nasir, ever so humble, didn’t mention it to them.

“We’re lucky you have such sure aim, Nasir,” Ezania said, smiling.

“Sometimes, you have to enact brute force on brutes,” Nasir said.

They all laughed.

At one point on the journey back, Ezania and Nasir had a somewhat private conversation.

“So, I’m glad we put your head on straight and you agreed to marry Jabir,” he said.

“I felt a threat to my freedom, and I reacted. I’m not saying I was right, but I think you can understand what I did. Think about how you would react if other people were discussing your marriage without you being involved.”

“You didn’t give them the chance, Ezania. You swarmed in like a bee ready to sting, and you did!”

“I made it right, Nasir. That’s all that matters.”

“As far as your freedom goes, you have the man to preserve that, you know.”

“I wouldn’t have agreed to marry him if he wasn’t.”

“We all deserve our freedom, even headstrong women, like yourself,” Nasir joked.

“Nasir, you know you love a headstrong woman,” Ezania said.

“The strongest and most secure of us do,” he said.

They continued their journey.

Until next time…look behind and beyond the veil…


The Unexpected Love Story of Omar and Amiran







This blog is the second of a series dedicated to The Siddiqui Brothers in Cairo. Learn how Omar met Amiran.

One riotous evening in the tavern, Omar Siddiqui encountered someone unexpected. On the surface, it was a typical night of drinking. He and his brothers had the whole place teeming with laughter. All three of them were drunk and slurring. Still more competent than some sober, but drunk nonetheless.

In the middle of his libationary stupor, Omar found himself distracted.  An unusual beauty casually made her way to the bar and exchanged pleasantries with the tavern keeper. An imposing log-like specimen followed behind her.  Omar’s gaze immediately absorbed her sable skin, chestnut eyes, and dark locks that reminded one of gossamer. He had to share his discovery with Jafar.

“Jafar, look at that angel over there!” He said.

“She’d be more interesting if she was no angel!” Jafar answered.

They laughed and continued to drink. The Siddiquis always noticed a beautiful woman, but the physical beauty didn’t always stop them in their tracks. Something intangible had to draw them further or it wasn’t worth their time.

In Amiran’s case, the allure was tangible. Her quick wit and self-possession seized his attention again. An obnoxious clod couldn’t accept her rebuffing of his witless charms, so he attempted to shame and chide her.

“A courtesan’s usefulness is short-lived You should take your opportunities while you can. Men will only accept used goods when they’re new and fresh. Old and worn goods are easily discarded.”

Omar paused and readied himself to come to her aid, as her bodyguard, Kamran- as he learned from the tavern keeper- walked away for a moment. The tavern keeper started making his way to her. She glanced in his direction and slightly raised her hand. He stopped.

“I’m sure your usefulness as a man is both short and short-lived,” she replied as her gaze went downwards.

“I can and do take my opportunities from men who have real charms. Men who generate excitement just by being in the room. You, from the time you opened your mouth to your last vulgar comment have bored me infinitely. Now, walk away before I allow my man to thrash you infinitely.”

At that moment, Kamran made his way back to her and planted himself in front of her, arms folded. His gaze was so unnerving the hapless would-be suitor stammered his apologies and stumbled his way out the door.

Omar couldn’t help but admire Amiran’s forthrightness and implacability. Her tone remained the same throughout her rebuttal. When the man apologized, she nodded her head wordlessly and took a slow and deliberate sip of wine. Omar had to speak with her. Jafar and Nasir were ready if Omar needed assistance. Yet, they saw no reason to interrupt their carousing for Omar’s flirtation. They continued to gulp their wine.

Omar sat next to Amiran and smiled. Amiran nodded and smiled back. Omar’s smile could melt a rabid dog. People were always helpless when faced with it.

Kamran started to rise and said, “My lady?”

“It’s alright,” she told him.

“I hope you find my charms real because I find yours fascinating,” Omar said.

“That has yet to reveal itself,” she said.

“Judging by your smile, I think it already has,” he said.

The next evening, Omar was headed to Amiran’s villa. He was arriving as a paying customer. Amiran was not as susceptible to Omar’s charms as most women, but he was grateful to be granted an audience.

The tavern keeper was a treasure trove of information, and from him Omar learned that Amiran was the finest and most sought after courtesan in Cairo. She was in a position where she could see whomever she chose and turn away whomever she chose. She was independent and beholden to no one. This unusual woman intrigued Omar even more.

That first night he stayed sober and clothed. He wanted nothing to distract him from this woman who bedazzled him. This restraint astonished Amiran, but captivated her. When he asked to see her again, she agreed, reservedly of course. Even Omar had to earn his place. For his part, Omar didn’t mind the process of attaining Amiran’s favor because he was unabashedly smitten.

So it began. They had no idea how deeply they would ensconce themselves in each other’s orbit.

Until next time…look behind and beyond the veil…

Omar Siddiqui on Coldplay, Beyonce, and Cultural Appropriation

Sam.fatherbeyonce for blog









This blog is the first of a series dedicated to The Siddiqui Brothers in Cairo. Get a glimpse into the musings and inner workings of the Siddiqui mind.

It’s been centuries since I passed into the Great Beyond. In this plane, I have witnessed wondrous advancements in the sciences. You have machines that are magical. What would have been miracles in my time are everyday occurrences that you all take for granted in yours. You watch and observe the heavens in ways even the most enlightened minds of our age could not even have conceived of. Your progression in technology reflects the innate divinity that is present in all human beings. I almost want to step into your plane and experience the euphoria of discovery once more. Almost. Even in such an edified era, the way human beings treat each other and act continues to reflect separation from the divine and each other. Disappointing.

You callously kill each other with no remorse. When your leaders try to stop you from destroying each other, you turn on them, especially if they look different from you. You continue to persecute each other over religion. Your laws really only favor those who have in your society. Your have-nots struggle for scraps from the overflowing table of the haves.

Wait. Am I talking about my time? No, I’m talking about 2016. You’ve surpassed us in some ways but are willfully stagnant in others. In some ways, you focus on what’s important. Yet, some of the things you focus on, I can’t really fathom.

One concept I truly cannot grasp is “cultural appropriation.” Your experts say it occurs when the majority group takes cultural aspects of a minority group they have traditionally oppressed. At worst, it’s hypocrisy. At best, couldn’t this “taking” of culture be redirected as a bridge of understanding between cultures? In my time, we interspersed facets of different cultures when we came across them. We learned, and we grew. Of course, some among us didn’t exchange. They plundered. They killed and destroyed. That is what you put energy into stopping. Oppression and hypocrisy are what you express outrage over. I don’t understand your indignation over what you call “pop” culture.

You have extended, contentious dialogue about celebrities and their hairstyles and their fashion. These moving pictures to music you call videos incite you to engage in worldwide debate over “cultural appropriation” in one of these 4 and a half-minute videos. That is just ridiculous. Worldwide controversy has erupted over a group of musicians who call themselves Coldplay and this stunning woman called Beyonce whose video was set in India.

“Hymn for the Weekend” has images of Shiva, various holy men, people participating in Holi, and the band members wandering around India. I somewhat see why religious imagery is used considering the song has the word “hymn” in it. It is a loose connection at best. Yet, many videos are totally unrelated to what is discussed in the song. Getting back to this particular song, I find the whole thing silly, the song and the video. Some lyrics go, “Got me feeling drunk and high…” I’ve felt drunk and high many times in my life. What does that have to do with holy men and Shiva? They should have focused more on Beyonce. She would make anyone feel drunk and high. She deserves a hymn herself. People are also upset about her wearing Indian clothing and being depicted as a Bollywood actress. Who cares? She looks more Hindustani than some of these young ladies in these films. My wife was Hindustani. Did I culturally appropriate her? Actually, this miniscule issue doesn’t deserve any more pontification. Simply, it’s a mediocre song that’s getting more attention and popularity than it deserves from this unnecessary controversy.

Friends, don’t divert your focus to nonsense that has no real importance. Truly connect with each other and embrace your divinity together.

Until next time…look behind and beyond the veil…

Character Spotlight- Nasir Siddiqui



He was the baby brother and was never allowed to forget it. His small, clean-shaven face and sensitive nature sealed his doom as being perpetually seen as a child by his brothers. Yet there was nothing childish about him when there was a brawl or anything else that needed handling. He was as capable as Omar and Jafar, a fact they were well aware of and called on when needed. –  The Siddiqui Brothers in Cairo

Like his brothers Omar and Jafar, Nasir Siddiqui is one of the finest astronomer astrologers of his age. The quickness of his wit matches the quickness of his mind. Like his brothers, he takes religion in moderation and will not suffer fools in those matters. Beautifully irreverent, he scoffs at the rigidity that surrounds him, “I really think the creator of the universe has other employment than to worry about whether or not I forget to say ‘Al-hamdu Lillaah’ after I sneeze.”  If the words are on his mind, they are very likely to come out of his mouth.

The youngest Siddiqui is as complex and intriguing as his brothers. At the same time, he is the quiet strength of the group. He can be counted in on in any given situation. In Shaherazade’s Daughters, he helped save his friend Ezania’s work from being sabotaged. Usually unexpectedly, he manages to embroil himself in adventures he cannot extricate himself from, easily. It is Nasir who involves the brothers in thwarting and exposing the corrupt Imam Mustapha. Later, he becomes the unsuspecting prey of a relentless fairy. Yet somehow with the help of his brothers, he navigates his way through it all.

However later in his life, tragedy and heartache seize and overwhelm him. Veering away from his true self, he manages to hurt those he loves the most. When he crosses to the other side, he must examine those decisions and make a decision himself. What will he decide?

Experience another treasure of the Golden Age of Islam… Nasir Siddiqui

Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…

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