Review: Shades of Oblivion

oblivion“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said: ‘When (will come) the Help of Allah?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” (Al-Baqarah 2:214)

This world is a transitory existence for man and vitally marked by recurring moments of gratification and tribulations. All of this is irrefutably predestined by Allah (swt). It is the choice and decision made by an individual, which eventually concludes their fate in the next world.

Ibn Adam in his character-driven contemporary fiction, “Shades of Oblivion”, narrates the story of three teenagers dwelling in the interiors of London: Masud Khan, Rizwan Kareem and David Eubanks , each associated with substantially diverse backgrounds; yet they end up making similar choices. Their ratification leads them all into “Oblivion”, an informal title assigned to post 9/11 detention centre.

The book “Shades of Oblivion” consists of three parts:

  • The first part informs the reader about three protagonists; their mindset and conduct.
  • The second deals with the juncture in their lives where each of them is compelled to contemplate.
  • The last part reveals the approach they take and what it eventually inculcates into.

However, there is another novel which is expected to come out as the second part of this book.

Ibn Adam arranges the novel in a dexterous manner, captivating the reader from the opening. And as the story flows, the reader finds himself entangled in the happening of events, personifying the characters and getting emotionally attached with them. The author smoothly convinces his audience that the devil will create hurdles for them by adorning the path that leads to misery. He makes it evident that the inner demons will become relentless by saying: “doubts and whispers would flutter into him.”

It is the strength of character which needs to be built in order to conquer the fight against these forces “to purge and break free from the shackles of his old life was not to take small steps but rather strides. In retrospect, this proved to be more difficult than he first anticipated.”

The occurrence of undesirable events following various consequences, lead the characters to a gradual and moral progress which brings about a change in their lifestyles as well as outlook. Masud, Rizwan and David; each faces severe reactions from family, friends and the society. The narrative compels the readers to contrast themselves with the characters and instigates them to conduct self-analysis.

Exploring the themes of juvenile delinquency and the lack of contentment brought about by the unacceptable social behavior, Ibn Adam provokes his audience to compare the condition of the youth of today to the Islamic perspective of social conduct.

Exploring the themes of juvenile delinquency and the lack of contentment brought about by the unacceptable social behavior, Ibn Adam provokes his audience to compare the condition of the youth of today to the Islamic perspective of social conduct. Moreover, using powerful imagery such as describing scenes of prison and fight club, he illustrates the story, forcing the reader to speculate and reflect. Alongside, divine texts are quoted in the second and third part of the book to further elaborate the situations.

Doubts and vague assumptions about Muslims are removed. A veil is swiftly lifted and a whole new perspective is born. You are not the fancy dresses you wear, the type of friends you hang out with or the wealth you accumulate; so who are you?

The question is answered once you enter the light and there the condition is totally reversed. After a vigourously fought war, there comes a point when the things that used to trigger suffering, temptation and distress, create nothing more than ripples in the steady calm within.

Dear Savvy Parent – Jekyll and Hyde

handprintDear Savvy Parent,

I have two questions:
1. At times, it seems my son has two personalities: a well-behaved one (in front of his father) and the typical toddler behaviour (in front of me and any female relatives). Is this normal?
2. He behaves fairly well at home, but at grandparents’ and in public (when his father is not there), he constantly pushes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. It almost seems he wants to check how far he can go before I snap… Again, is it normal for boys his age?


Dear Parent,

It is very common for young children to behave differently at home from when away from parents or away from the home. Do not worry that your child has a case of the “Jekyll and Hyde” behaviour, it is normal and I’m sure many other parents can attest to this.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the worst behaviour that is saved for parents and generally it tends to be the mothers that get the brunt of it.

How does one deal with this?

First of all find a strategy to deal with your anger. Ask yourself, what is your breaking point and how can you prevent yourself from reaching it? Figure out what works for you. For example, take a few slow breaths while reciting some tasbih quietly to yourself when you start to feel yourself getting angry.

When a child insists on something or is unwilling to comply with your wishes, it can be tempting to give in, especially if it means avoiding a tantrum, but all children need boundaries, and the best thing you can do to encourage positive behaviour when your child acts up around you is to be vigilant about setting and enforcing boundaries. Do not get into a power struggle with your child. Generally, in the case of a power struggle, parents feel that their power is being tested and challenged by the child.

The more the parent tries to exert power, the easier it is for the child to win simply by saying “no” or making some excuse and then the focus becomes more about who’s in charge rather than the misbehaviour itself. I am sure many parents out there have found themselves in this exact situation. Remember whatever is going on, whatever your child is doing, losing your temper won’t help. It may feel good or like it’s working in the short term, because you have enforced your parental authority and power, but in the long run the child has learned an ineffective lesson about managing conflict. Ask yourself, “How can I best handle that situation and how can I make this work without fighting?” You’ll have a much better chance of resolving this situation effectively.

Your child is old enough and I’m sure has a pretty good handle on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour, hence the button pushing and testing of boundaries. Again, yes, it is all very normal.

Next, lay the ground rules. Remain firm and consistent; set clear and most importantly FAIR consequences for unacceptable behaviour. For example, if your child doesn’t clean up his toys, then you take those toys away (set a reasonable time limit, such as 2 days). Another example would be, if your child has a nasty attitude around family members, you will send him away to another room (for example). If he can’t be nice to others, he must be alone. Before going out or visiting grandparents, discuss what is expected from him before hand. When deciding on a consequence, avoid situations that put your child in control of others, such as: “We can all go get ice cream after you clean up your toys.” This allows your child to control all family members and does not put any real consequences in place for their behaviour. It will only exacerbate their passive aggressive behaviour.

Lastly, remember the intent of consequences. They should not be to punish your child for the sake of punishment. Consequences should be logical and a form of discipline that parents should use to teach their child a lesson. So when you remove and reinstate privileges, in a calm manner be sure to explain to your child why/how he misbehaved and what you expect of him next time.

Make sure both you and your husband (and any other family members you may be living with) are on the same page with regards to unacceptable behaviour and it consequences. Consistency is the key!

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!!

The Savvy Parent