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May 10, 2005
The Ta Marbootas
A Journey in Writing the Tales of Ali's 'Aroos, Part I


by Talal Sarwani

First, a lesson in Qawa'id (Arabic Grammar) for you all:
The second letter in the Arabic alphabet is known as "Ta". It's not the retroflexed "Ta" as in the Tata Company of India, nor is it the anglo-fied g'bye implied in the phrase "Ta ta". Phonetically, this "Ta" is the softer sound made when your tongue touches the back of your upper two front teeth. In script, this "Ta", if at the end of a word, either takes on the shape of a little "o" with a dash above it, or it takes the shape that is somewhat like the forward end of the ships of the olden days. If found in the beginning or middle of a word, a "Ta marboota" takes the shape the regular ol' "Ta maftooha" takes. One more thing to note about a "Ta marboota", is that if it is at the end of a word, it may phonetically represent the sound of the letter "ha". Ex: The word "Nasiha" in Arabic has a "Ta marboota" at the end, and so the last sound is a soft "h", which is why it is better spelled as "Nasihah". So ends this fun lesson, which may very well be entirely incorrect, because it's all done from oooooold memories of me as a whee little lad.

We now come to the Ta Marbootas mentioned in the title... the women who occupy my mind a bit too much. You see, there are a select group of names in the lugha of Arabic, often very poetic, such that when you hear them they are pleasing to the ear and when you say them they are pleasing to the oratory device. Very simply, these names are often referred to as mashaAllah-ly beautiful. The thing about these names is that they all end in that wonder of a thing known as the Ta Marboota. Read on, and it'll all become clearer.

About three to four years ago, I sat down, feeling inspired from the summer I just had, and decided to write my first screenplay. It was going to be my first time writing a tale having to do with Muslims, and it was the beginning of a change I noticed taking place in my mentality/morality. I knew what the story was basically about, a guy and a girl. One of the most important decisions a writer of tales has to make is to decide on character's names. For the guy, I guess I felt a little lazy or something, but for some reason, I went for the very obvious name "Ali". On a side note, I seem to have an Ali in nearly every story I've written since then, and the stories are always about Ali finding himself a wife.... WEIRD! Then it came time to decide on the name of the female character, but knowing who she was, and what was going to happen, I didn't want to skimp on her name. I went on a little search, and so we come to the first Ta Marboota:

Haifa

Where do I begin with Haifa? She's one of two characters in a screenplay that still lies unfinished. It's probably the most personal work I've written, which is why only two or three people in this dunya have gotten a glimpse of it. Allahu A'lam, but inshaAllah I can get in the mind/heart-set to finish this story, because it's one I would love to tell, but only on the scale I imagine it, inshaAllah. Haifa for me has been a very interesting guage of where I've been at in my life. She started off as the ideal woman; I don't mean Islamically perfect, but ideal, meaning the perfect woman as I saw her at that time. I'm not enough of a nut to reveal what that is, and besides, the brothers would have goosebumps if I did (I speak from experience). The one thing I don't mind mentioning about Haifa, is the evolution she undertook as I went through revisions of the story. She was first the same ol' gal, wearing the same ol' clothes, in front of the same ol' kinds of guys. Things changed as I made revisions to the story, as my state of mind kept on changing, alhamdulillah, and through that emerged the Haifa of today: She who doesn't wear those same ol' clothes, doesn't act in that same ol' manner, and definitely doesn't do either in front of the same ol' guys. She became the new Haifa, a new ideal I held on to... It's been a long time since I've visited the lives of Ali and Haifa. Before I do though, I need to finish writing AND filming a story having to do with another Ta Marboota. Of her, though, we shall speak in a few moments.

Back to Haifa, I just remembered a little tidbit about the unfortunate state of me at that time. Writing the story was my first attempt at anything with even the slightest little hint of romance, so I had to find some way to get in the mood. Well, those were the sad sad days of my family constantly giving me the "what the HECK is wrong with you?!?!???" look, as I sat quietly forlorn, listening to old-school ghazals and ooooold-school hindi film songs. Just a glimpse at the sad delvings of my self:

Dil mai toofan-sa uta hai aise
Doobti kashti bhamhar mai ho jaise
...
Jheel mai chand... nazar aya aise

Tch tch tch... I know :) and to others thinking of delving into the same madness, let me caution you that you WILL be hooked, especially if it's a woman singin' those words.

Nigahen mila kar
Zindagi dee hai tumne.
Palkon ko yoo na
Jukake sazana de mujhko

Tsk tsk... The trap doors are closing upon me once again. I'll stop now. All I'll say is that, sisters, there's a reason you're advised to make stern your voices around us non-Mahram.

Alhamdulillah, I snapped myself out of that sadness, and continued to write the tale of Ali and Haifa. I loved her father, and right from the second I thought of him, I knew exactly what he looked like, what he sounded like, and what kind of man he was. The entire reason for me to write her father in was for a conversation he has with Ali in a garden. Goosepimples (this word-usage was for my homeys) galore in that scene. "Aandhi ari hai(the storm is coming)" :)

It's not often that I go back to writing their story, but whenever I do, it feels very comfortable. I know Ali, Haifa, Hameedo, Saima, Altaf, and the rest of the crowd pretty well now; subhaanAllah, I wonder what it will be like to realize them on a screen for the rest of the world to see one day. For those who have read The Farewell Mile, all I did was take Haifa's mile from the movie, mix it with Laila's (Ali's sister) mile from the beginning of the movie, and voila, a tear-jerker for all (walhamdulillah I loved going back to that universe to write that story).

Haifa is the foundation for any Muslimah I write into my stories; I try not to compare those in the dunya to her, because the measure it simply high, and things would just fall apart if I do (I couldn't help myself, sorry). Actually, I'm not that sorry... I'll let Haifa stand as a challenge to all sisters, because it seems that the sisters have lost "it", which is something I predicted three years ago, when I wrote about another 'Aroos for another Ali for another story. This time, the story is Unbroken Lines and the Muslimah's name is Zayna...

to be continued...


of and relating to...
Justoju said

Maybe its the writing, maybe its the eloquence, maybe its the content, maybe its the passion, maybe its the unbridled unabashed exposure of a driven heart's ideal...but I am getting goosebumps.

One yearns to take the journey you wish for the witness and to love these 'ta marbootas' as you have loved them.

on May 10, 2005 2:49 AM
asif said

Salaam:

Brother Talal, you are not much different than me when I was your age man...hahahaha...I am looking forward to your next installments very much.

Ma'Assalaama

on May 10, 2005 9:43 AM
amatullah said

"Maybe its the writing, maybe its the eloquence, maybe its the content, maybe its the passion, maybe its the unbridled unabashed exposure of a driven heart's ideal...but"

...but i don't get this article

on May 10, 2005 1:10 PM
gillette said

COMMENT ON THIS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TELL TALAL THAT YOU LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!!!! THIS IS NOT A FAILED ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! INSHAA ALLAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There's no real point, but it doesn't matter. Lessons for sisters, many there are.

on May 10, 2005 3:42 PM
Ahmed said

Assalaamu Alaikum,

Perhaps yes,

"I'll let Haifa stand as a challenge to all sisters, because it seems that the sisters have lost "it", which is something I predicted three years ago, when I wrote about another 'Aroos for another Ali for another story"

Sisters have lost what it means to be a true women, very few have it, in America, the west at least.
Perhaps there are still some eastern women with this quality of 'idealness' or perfection you are referring to.

Many sisters have a bad mix of western feministic ideals(so called feminism) and a limited notion of islamic ideals(hijab, few sunnahs, qur'an, salah) but as far as spirit of sacrifice, devotion, and serving the family is gone: look at the high divorce rates.
women are mostly responsible for the high divorce rates in USA, they marry against their parents wishes and then divorce against everyone's wishes. They think they are on their own, their selfish endeavors knows no measure.
Br.Talal, I dont know whether you will ever find an ideal woman in this age or not in reality.
But keep writing brother....
keep writing.

on May 10, 2005 5:03 PM
Nadia said

Assalam u alaikum.
Hmmm interesting but we did not get any glimpse into what is it that makes Haifa unique or what sets her apart from the sisters of this dunya. Zayna is my favorite name and it has been copyrighted by me in my family so that no one else in my family can name their daughters Zaina, hehe. It is indeed a pretty name :)
Jazakallah khair and salam

on May 10, 2005 7:39 PM
Justoju said

"women are mostly responsible for the high divorce rates in USA, they marry against their parents wishes and then divorce against everyone's wishes. They think they are on their own, their selfish endeavors knows no measure."

Sounds a bit harsh dont you think? I dont think that all the blame of forgetting the sunnah can be placed primarily on one gender. Today's brothers arent exactly the shining likeness of the Companions either. Nearly all of us are screwed up and thats why we have trouble making marriages work.

on May 11, 2005 2:16 AM
asif said

salaam:

I am not particularly in a favorable mood at this very moment, so I will not add fuel to any sort of "fire".

But, I think I mostly agree with Br. Ahmed, he may sound harsh, but there is big reality to what he is saying, especially for us muslims in America.

Ma'Assalaama

on May 11, 2005 2:45 AM
Traveller said

as salaamu 'alaykum,

everybody's correct in this comment box. women are messed up...and so are men. there is no specific gender to blame cuz it takes two to tango. mothers should teach thier kids proper islamic ideals from the very first *day* of birth; and fathers need to provide a good example to their kids - halaal rizq/patience/financial support for family/salaah/adaab etc.

I love the name 'Haadiyah' -- its very feminine, has beautiful meaning...and it has a taa marbootah.

on May 11, 2005 5:16 AM
haadiyah said

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

on October 3, 2005 7:58 AM
Mohammed Irfan Shariff said

BREAHE IN
BREATHE OUT

TALAL SARWANI KNOWS WHAT HE'S TALKIN ABOUT

ooooooooooooooooooooooo
smoothe like tah marbootas?
smoothe like cocoa butter on my heard

RECOGNIZE

on November 6, 2005 8:08 PM
Ali said

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE BR. TALAL

on August 28, 2006 8:20 AM
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