Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Review: The Seafaring Beggar and Other Tales by Yahiyah Emerick and Reshma Baig

Yahiyah Emerick and Reshma Baig. The Seafaring Beggar and Other Tales. First printed 1998. Published and distributed by International Books & Tapes Supply. ISBN 1-889720-06-2.
I purchased this book from Alhambra Productions, at this link. As of September 4, 2005, the book is out of stock there. The order was fulfilled properly.

The paperback cover has an attractive design by Tariq Khan.

This volume is a collection of short pieces by the two authors, Yahiyah Emerick and Reshma Baig.

I don’t think you could just hand this book to a child and the child would finish it. As soon as the child hit a story or poem to which he did not relate, he might just put the book down completely. I think that an adult reading stories to children could find the material he/she thinks appropriate and use it.

The quality varies. I liked:

1. “Windows Within Myself” by Reshma-A trip through the protagonist’s negative thinking mind to a more positive outlook.
2. “White Collar Poet” by Yahiya.
3. “Full Circle” by Yahiya-Doing a good deed will never cause you harm!
4. “Power” by Yahiya.
5. “Black Feather Finds His Lord” by Yahiya-Recognizes the universality of the message of Islam.
6. “Quivering Heart” by Yahiya-Nice story of a child being kind to a lost bird.
7. “Hakim and the Special Letter”-A little too dramatic story of the repentance of a highway robber, but I think a child would like it.
8. “Scared” by Reshma Baig-A short piece encouraging us to overcome our fears and take action.
9. “Aslama” by Yahiya. A short piece describing the “Islam” of different creatures.
10. “A Bag of Gems” by Yahiya-The answer to the riddle, “I can make you feel happy and bothered.”
11. “A Cat in Space” by Yahiya-Great for all you cat lovers!
12. “Thief for a Day” by Yahiya-How did a break-in to the author’s car remind him to pay more attention to the Qur’an?
13. “The Seafaring Beggar” by Yahiya. A story teaches the Muslim to persevere and remain thankful, no matter the circumstances.
14. “Flight” by Reshma. Thinking about how the places preserve the memory of our actions should cause us to think before we act!

I disliked:
“Salvation for Certain” by Yahiya-In this short piece, a Muslim student on campus confounds the evangelist and succeeds in bringing people to the masjid to learn more about Islam. I don’t think it’s necessary to distort the message of the genuine Christian evangelist by suggesting he might use offensive language. I remember at Indiana University in Bloomington from 1994-6, crowds would gather for an evangelist, but it was distinctly a circus-like atmosphere. In other words, the students listening were seeking entertainment, not enlightenment.

“The Knock” by Yahiya-In this story, a Muslim who is “passing”, whose wife’s name is Linda, and whose children use Anglo names, Michael and Cindy, thinks that attacks on Muslims by prejudiced people are the result of Muslims’ failure to blend in. Later, a mob attacks his family. Only when he repents to Allah does he find the strength to rescue his family. He realizes that the existence of Muslims prevents the world from burying “itself in the folds of meaningless pleasure, in the arms of blissful ignorance.” My comment-I don’t believe it’s healthy to instill in Muslim readers a fear of mob attacks. Also, while I do believe Muslims should be a voice against hedonism, I’m not sure we’re so effective that we’re attracting counterattacks from the hedonists!

“Prints” by Reshma-This piece tries so hard to put the words together that the meaning just floated past me. Or maybe I just missed it.

Some other comments:
“Black Feather Finds His Lord”-As a historical note, I find it very improbable that American Indians in the Great Plains would have been surprised to see a black man, since Africans were a very significant number from the earliest days of European settlement of the colonies which would eventually become the United States. In addition, Europeans did not settle the Plains for several more centuries, and the Plains territories were in general non-slave holding territories.
Yahiya Emerick also included a piece about how he became a Muslim.

For a “glowing review,” read Sr. Tasleem K. Griffin's review on

Last updated September 4, 2005.

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