Remembering Uzza

If the story of Islam was told to me in a pub

Foreword to a Work In Progress

Remembering Uzza recalls in a sinuous conversation the story told in two books: Pain, Pleasure and Prejudice and 1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet Muhammad.

Remembering Uzza is meant to make learning about the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad a painless and mostly pleasant experience while not sugar-coating or leaving out the nasty bits, unlike Little Mosque on the Prairie.

And, is there a better place to learn about Islam then in the relaxed atmosphere of a favourite pub in the company of friends and a beautiful, bright, doomed young woman to give you an insider's perspective?

Except for Uzza, and a short appearance by a couple from HAMM (Holy Alliance of Muslim Municipalities), all other characters, including Archie the bartender, are modeled on real patrons of a once popular Ottawa night-spot.

The sequel to The Interviews adopts the same play-like format as that milestone publication. Again, the format chosen breaks with Dramatic Play Services and Playwrights Canada and the so-called Standard American conventions for plays. Names of characters are not CAPITALIZED as not to distract the reader with excessive CAPITALIZATION. Only the first letter of the character’s Name is in uppercase. The names of the characters still appear in bold.

The portion of the interview which led to Johnny's injuries is summarized in a newscast in the opening act.

In an effort to keep the conversation between Uzza, Johnny, Gerry, Bob and Archie as unaffected as possible, implicit and explicit references to verses of the Koran, the sayings and actions of the Prophet etc. will be explained in what promises to be a substantial supplement of end-notes that will accompany an eventual print/digital edition of Remembering Uzza.

When writing about Islam you are always concerned that you will not get to finish what you started because someone will take exception to something you wrote earlier; the reason for posting a work in progress, warts and all. If I don't get to finish and publish Remembering Uzza, maybe you can. Just give credit where credit is due.

The Title

Her father risked injury, even death, and eternal damnation by naming her Uzza. Listen to the conversation and you will understand why he did it, and why the title.

The name Uzza is from al-Uzza ("al" before the name means "the"), the Arab Venus and the most revered of all their goddesses. Pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped al-Uzza, along with al-Lat and Manat who they believed to be the daughters of God.

The Prophet's tribe the Quraysh used to chant, as they circumambulated the Ka'ba, "Al-Lat, and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other; indeed these are exalted gharaniq (cranes); let us hope for their intercession."

F. E. Peters, The Hajj, p 3-41:

When the Prophet showed up with his army, the Meccans gave up without a fight after being given assurances that, if they became Muslims they could continue to worship Lat, Uzza, and Manat.

The next day, after he had complete control of their city, Muhammad told them that it was all the devil’s doing; that Satan had intruded on the previous night's conversation with God and in the morning Allah had set him straight.

22:52 We have not sent a Messenger or Prophet before you but when he recited the Devil would intrude into his recitation. Yet Allah annuls what the Devil had cast. Then Allah establishes His Revelations. Allah is All-Knowing and Wise.

The so-called Satanic Verses were stricken from the Koran and Lat, Uzza, and Manat were history. The denial of the existence of the revered goddesses marked the end of the Arab Civilization.

I am not aware in the entire history of civilisation of a more gracious, more loving, more vibrant society than that of the Arabs before Islam … [it was a time] … of unbound freedom, lofty sentiments, a nomadic and chivalrous way of life, [a land] of fantasy, joy, mischievousness, bawdy impious poetry, refined love-making…

Ernest Renan, cf. Robert Montagne La Civilisation du désert.

Bernard Payeur