I caught my son listening to western music – the volume so loud I could hear the words even though he wore headphones.
It was the Sabbath. And this made the sin worse in my eyes.
Neighbors in my village often complained how easily kids could buy things from the west. But we all knew a well-placed bribe would allow anything to come into our country.
For a man like me struggling to keep up my herd and sell my cheese, this seemed even more of a crime.
I can barely afford feed. I can barely sell my cheese. Yet my son can get a plastic box full of sacrilege anywhere.
Although I ordered my son to silence this box, I knew I would have to talk with the village fathers in order to find some better answer.
I asked my son to come pray with me. Perhaps our prayers together would help make life better and help preserve the way of life our fathers and father before them had worked so hard to preserve.
My son refuses.
He tells me he does not believe in Allah and he does not want to be trapped into the old life the way I was.
He says he has talked to some western business men about getting a job where he can make a lot of money.
Never had I felt such despair!
What had I done wrong in raising him? Had I not prayed hard enough for his salvation?
So I went a prayed, hoping to overcome my deficiency.
Then I went to see the elders to see what might be done.
Maybe I could still save my son from this western evil and bring him back to the path our ancestors have always walked.
For I had learned just as my father had and his father before him that the land can only be preserved if we pass it one from father to son.
But when I arrived at the elder’s house, he did not live in a home like mine, but in some new construction full of western things: television, air conditioning, expensive tapestries.
He laughed at me and called me foolish for wanting to continue in the old ways when life can be so easy.
“The old life is dead,” he told me, “and I for one am glad to bury it. Even Allah cannot change what has started here.”
It was then that I realized that my son was lost, that my way of life was lost, and that I was lost, if such men were the kind that led us.
But I refused to let go of my God.
I refused to give up my old life. Yes, it is difficult. But it is through the labor of life that we earn the right to sit at Allah’s side in the next.
What evil thing would steal my son’s soul by giving him an easy life full of plastic things at the expense of the life hereafter? I would not let him give up so much for so little.
So I sought out others in the village who said they sought what I sought.
But what they tell me scares me.
They said the answer to the west must be violent.
They said the land suffers as the west bleeds us with every barrel of oil they pump.
They said Allah helps those who help themselves.
They said I must serve as Allah’s hand on earth.
They said this is the only way I can save my son or my way of life.
Whose truth am I to believe? The west that poison’s my son’s soul with their hateful plastic boxes?
I see my world crumbling, my son’s soul lost, and the wealthy west growing fat as we starve.
I have no other answer.
I take their guns, their bombs and I do what they ask – hoping in the end Allah will forgive me.