Amir put away his purchases and sat down at his desk to do some work. He made a good start, but after awhile distraction got the better of him and he sat back and sighed.
He decided to make a tagine for dinner and went to the kitchen and assembled the ingredients and put them in the oven. He chided himself for not being able to get her out of his mind, for it was thoughts of her that had kept him from getting much productive work done. He went back to desk and took out the books he had checked out of the library and opened one at random. His eyes fell on a passage he hadn’t noticed earlier. It read: And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allâh) (i.e. this Qur’ân and adoration of Allâh), We appoint for him [شيطان] Shaytan ([סַטַן] Satan – devil – unruly – defiant) to be a Qareen (a companion) to him.
He closed the book and sat back. A qareen. A djinni assigned to one who has turned his back; a punishment for apostasy. He shook his head. It was preposterous. Surely he was making a rod for his own back. This whole thing was nothing more than subconscious doubt about his alienation from faith. Still, he would go to her again tomorrow. Of that, there was no doubt in his mind.
The sun was setting and he went out onto his balcony to admire the colors in the twilight sky. It was a grand show and afterwards he looked down into the street and was startled. There directly across the street was a big black dog sitting at attention, staring up at him. In the deepening gloom he couldn’t be certain it was same one he had seen earlier, but it certainly looked the same. He looked at it a bit longer and then went in side and closed the doors.
He ate dinner while he read some more and then put on some music to relax. The phone rang and he answered it.
“Amir, how are you this evening?”
“Boulos, my friend. I am well, thank you. What’s up?”
“Well I got to thinking that I was perhaps a bit abrupt with you this afternoon. Of course it is your business what you write about. If you have any more questions, I thought I would offer whatever help I can.”
“Oh, well thank you Boulos. I went to the library and took out a few books. I think I have what I need. There is one thing though. Are you familiar with the concept of a qareen? It’s just that I came across the word and I hadn’t heard it before.”
There was a silence on the line that Amir found unsettling. Finally it was broken.
“Yes, yes of course, the qareen. It is not much spoken of any more. Many do not believe or take no notice of the idea. It is a djinni assigned by Allah, his name be praised, to those who…”
More silence. Amir breathed a sigh.
“Yes, I know, I read about it. I just wondered if you knew any more about it.”
“Well, it is said that a qareen is usually of the ifrit, Amir, a djinn aligned with…well…”
“I know what the ifrit are, my friend. Thank you for that.”
Another silence. Amir was beginning to suspect he should be reading between the lines.
“I’ll wish you a good night then, my friend. It was good to see you today.”
“And you, Boulos. Be well. Goodnight.”
He hung up the phone and against his better judgement went and opened a balcony door and looked out. The dog was not there.