The Fall of the Imam

The Fall of the Imam by Nawal El Saadawi Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fall of the Imam by Nawal El Saadawi Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nawal El Saadawi
Tags: Fiction, Literary, General
said, ‘That is not God. It must have been the Devil whom you saw. Go, do your ablutions and pray to God that He have mercy on you.’
    My mother used to pray at dawn before she went to the field and then again at night when she came back. But I never saw my father kneel in prayer even once. During the fasting months of Ramadan he would eat and drink and smoke his water tobacco-pipe and divide his nights between his four wives unequally, spending three nights with his most recent wife to every night he spent with my mother. He would say, ‘God forgives all sins no matter how great, except the sin of believing in another God besides Him. For there is only one ruler on the earth and that is the Imam.’
    Before he died my father paid a visit to the tomb of the Prophet in Mecca. When he came back he began to wear a cloak instead of the usual peasant attire, and I used to hear him say that the pilgrimage to the Prophet’s tomb washed all sins away, leaving no trace behind, no matter how oft they had been repeated. Thus it was that my father was able to die in peace without a sin on his conscience. So when my mother grew old I asked her why she had not thought of paying a visit to the Prophet’s tomb before she died and so make sure that in the after-life she could join my father in Paradise. But she looked at me with weeping eyes and said, ‘Your father sold the crops before he died and left nothing behind for me, so I have no money to buy a ticket to Mecca.’ And as she had no way of washing away her sins, she dried her eyes on the palm of her hand and said, ‘If Allah opens the doors of prosperity to you, my son, promise to buy me a ticket so that I can go to the Prophet’s tomb.’
    ‘I promise to do that for you, mother,’ said I.
    But the days went by, and I forgot all about what had passed between us. I even forgot what her face looked like, seeing all the things I had to attend to in my life. And this went on year after year until twenty years passed by without my going to see her where she lived in the same small house way down in the South. My eyes were always fastened on the heavens so that all I could see was Allah and Hizb Allah. I even forgot the existence of another party, of Hizb al-Shaitan.
    In fact Hizb al-Shaitan would never have existed if I had not decreed that the creation of such a party was necessary. I said to myself: if Satan does not come and go freely among my people, how are they going to know fear? And without fear, no ruler, no Imam, can remain on the throne. Hizb al-Shaitan will be there to constitute the opposition in the Advisory Council and the People’s Assembly. It will say no in front of my people and whisper yes in my ear. Then I remembered my friend, for he was just the man I needed to play this role. He had inherited land and money from his father and what he was looking for now was fame, a place in history so that people would remember his name. Besides, now he had visited the tomb of the Prophet in Mecca and acquired the respected title of Haj, he was even better prepared to play this role. I of course know that his heart is empty of faith and that his wife does not believe in one God but in three, that she makes the sign of the cross and kneels to the Trinity, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. But she is blonde, like honey, slender like the fine branch of a tree, and she speaks seven tongues. He shows her off proudly in front of people and seats her beside him at state functions.
    I hide my wife behind a veil and make her walk behind me in the streets. She does not know how to write her name, and she cannot read the word of God. Her mind has little substance but her body is full of flesh, her buttocks are heavy and her brain lightweight. God created her out of a gnarled and twisted rib. She was destined to be poor, to be without lineage or family, a woman of low descent. When I married her, God had not opened the doors of prosperity to me and we were bound together in

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