Spring 2024 - The Shahada

When I was little, I spent July and August with my family in Cairo. The summer before I turned seven, my mother insisted that I learn how to pray. My Arabic was weak, and she wanted to ensure that, at the very least, I knew how to perform the salah.

    A kind older man – who at the time seemed about fifty, but was likely thirty – introduced himself to me, clutching a Qur’an. They called him a Mohafez, someone who helps you memorize the Qur’an. And memorize I did. I sat with him from dawn to dusk for three days to learn the Fatiha and three short suras. I whined and pleaded, but my family was stubborn. In hindsight, I’m grateful …


Sarah El Sioufi is an Egyptian-Canadian writer. Her fiction has appeared in emerge 22: The Writer’s Studio Anthology. She lives in Algonquin Highlands, Ontario, with her husband and two young children.

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