Short Story: ‘The Qur’an’ by Ihsan Abdel Kouddous

By the end of the blessed month, Kafr Mamuna and Kafr Hatata had celebrated five marriages between them! The trifle of corn I own will scarcely be enough for the kids. Mu’allim Qura snapped back: — Are you saying the Directorate took the land and put it in its pocket? ‘Awadayn sneered: — No, by God, you will! The Qur’an By Ihsan Abdel Kouddous Translated by Rahma Bavelaar The small village had grown used to hosting a Qur’an reciter from Cairo in the month of Ramadan. His melodious recital enlivened the nights and lent the villagers a proud edge over the people of the surrounding hamlets.  It had been the custom for the Sayid to cover the reciter’s fee and the cost of his lodgings. Short Story: ‘The Qur’an’ by Ihsan Abdel Kouddous January 4, 2022January 4, 2022 by mlynxqualey In celebration of the English-language publication of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s I Do Not Sleep, translated by Jonathan Smolin, we have a small special section on Abdel Kouddous. Faraj Allah put in: — What about Laylat al-Qadr—with them, or with us? ‘Awadayn said: — In truth, friends, I have nothing left to give. And so it came to pass that a delegation from Kafr Mamuna proceeded to Kafr Hatata to negotiate, and that the two hamlets agreed to share the cost of inviting Shaykh Abdel Basit to enliven the nights of Ramadan. That was last year… This year, the small meeting was called again to decide on the matter of inviting Shaykh Abdel Basit. You all know it’s been a rotten year, may God extend your lives. Faraj Allah said: — Even Kafr Hatata is hosting nights with Shaykh Shalhuny this year, just to taunt us. Or we’ll all swear on our marriages to never drop dead, or to refuse to be buried by your hand! Shaykh Tamam snapped: — Come on folks, don’t complicate things! I didn’t even manage to get back the few pennies I paid last year. The crowds flooded in daily, eager to listen to the voice of the Cairene reciter. He’s no competition for Shaykh Abdel Basit! And excluding the platform that’s set up for the audience every night. Shaykh Tamam said: —Wallahi here’s a thought…what do you say we make a deal with the people of Hatata and combine our resources? Futuh shot back: —Are you kidding? For one thing…it’s a sin!  Faraj Allah put in: — Let’s go talk to the Bey. The villagers welcomed them, feeling more self-confident than ever before. Futuh said: — The Agricultural Directorate grabbed the land, so it’s on them to bring the shaykh! * Read more: An excerpt from I Do Not Sleep A Talk with Jonathan Smolin: On the Intersections of Abdel Kouddous’s Politics and His Fiction Ali Shakir: The Silencing of Ihsan Abdel Kouddous Photos & Films: Ihsan Abdel Kouddous Two short stories by Abdel Kouddous: “God is Love,” translated by Rahma Bavelaar Book talks: January 11, with Jonathan Smolin, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, and M Lynx Qualey January 27, with Jonathan Smolin and Alaa al-Aswany Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading… We don’t want to lose face and hear them say Kafr Mamuna has no light in Ramadan! Hamdan added: — There’s nothing for it but to sell off the cattle!  Mu’allim Qura, the funeral undertaker, said: —As the saying goes: “Poverty and arrogance… Mu’allem Qura said: — Thirty pounds…excluding sweets. We’ll bring over Shaykh Abdel Basit together! —Al-Shalhuny who? Aren’t we all Muslims and believers? * Rahma Bavelaar is an anthropologist based between Cairo and Leiden. Faraj Allah said: — I saved up three pounds for Settohom’s dower. The small gathering exploded with laughter. Then Shaykh Tamam, the imam of the mosque, spoke: — There is only one way to go about this. And the tea. The night will go to whoever’s turn comes up on Laylat al-Qadr!  Mu’allim Qurra, the funeral undertaker, cried out: —I’m not paying! Where will he spend the night, with us or with them? And so Shaykh Abdel Basit came and made the nights of Ramadan come alive, elevating Kafr Mamuna over all surrounding towns and hamlets. As the poem says, ”Nothing can scratch an itch like one’s own nail.” Faraj Allah asked: — How do we find out what he charges? Futuh countered:—Don’t tempt fate! They’re distributing land to the peasants! Come up with a better idea, Futuh! They had paid the reciter’s fee out of their own pockets! ‘Awadayn the gardener put in: — That totals up to 50 pounds. In twenty years, this has never happened.You must come up with a plan! And the distribution of refreshments. Another conundrum! Faraj Allah said: — This year, my affairs are in God’s hands. Maybe we can change his mind and convince him to bring us Shaykh Abdel Basit! I’ll put in those, may God recompense us. Yet another obstacle! The villagers coughed up whatever they could until the 50 pounds had been collected. Shaykh Tamam said: — That can be resolved, my good man. .” Didn’t we say the radio would be good enough? What is the world coming to? Last year, the villagers convened a quasi-meeting to discuss the matter of the reciter from Cairo.  Hamdan fumed:  — Our village has nothing, except in Ramadan…People from villages all around flocked to us to listen to Shaykh Abdel Basit…This year, our heads will hang in shame. People even refuse to die! They were no longer the men of the Sayid, but the lords of their village. With us, with them, it’s all the same. Yet for the past two years, he had ceased to extend the invitation, in protest of the Agrarian Reform Directorate’s confiscation of 60 feddans of his land. By God, I’m not paying a penny. We’ll have no Ramadan spirit!  Mu’allim Qura, the funeral undertaker, said: —The radio will have to do for you lot this year… ‘Awadayn the gardener exclaimed: — Radio…what radio, man? He will alternate the nights between us! We’ll each put in our two pennies to bring over Shaykh Abdel Basit. I’ll cover two pounds, and I’ll throw in in two pearly kidneys to boot! Shaykh Tamam said: — So Ramadan will pass in silence?

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