A message of love

  

A message of love

A Jihad for Love is a plea for tolerance and compassion from Mohamed El Bachiri, who lost his wife Loubna in the Brussels attack of March 2016. A rejection of fanaticism, A Jihad for Love is a collection of reflections on love, loss, and the ways in which we can live together despite differences of religion and ideology. Read on for an exclusive extract.


Faith

I’m a Muslim, first of all by birth, then by conviction.

I inherited Islam. The faith played a major role in our family. My parents stressed its moral values: uprightness, friendliness, a sense of honour and keeping one’s word. At home, we prayed five times a day. Our father introduced us to it at an early age, but everyone did with it what they wanted.

We took Arabic lessons, in other to learn the language and be able to recite the Koran. That went in the old-fashioned way: boys and girls in separate classrooms, at a local mosque close to our house. We had to learn the Koran by rote – not by heart. In fact, we recited it without understanding it. In the 1980s, anyone who felt like it could call himself a teacher. Ours was old 19 and strict. He slapped our fingers with a ruler. He hit me too, a few times. The worst thing was when my friends would organise a football tournament and I had to go to Arabic lessons. So that Arabic school didn’t last too long. I still know a few suras, maybe thirteen or fourteen of them, only the ones essential for saying my prayers.

The Koran is poetry, in Arabic it’s a beautiful text. The Arabs used the Word and the poetry to make contact, to discuss, to convince. It was beauty. It was art. In this religion, poetry plays a crucial role. How someone who was first a shepherd, later a merchant and then finally a mystic discovered poetry as his driving force…. You may criticise the Koran, but as poetry it is without equal.


A Jihad for Love is available now in paperback and ebook