Writing Forbidden required two years of research before I started the first sentence. I really fought the urge to write this story because, first and foremost, I knew nothing about Islam. And since the culture and beliefs are so important to Forbidden’s story, I thought I would not do the story justice. For months I ignored and suppressed the urging of my muse, turned away from the visions of turmoil and passion. And yet, day by day, the movie played on in my mind. There was no refusing my destiny.
And so the research began. First with a trip to Al Rashid mosque in Edmonton (the first one in North America). Imam Mustafa Khattab took time to answer my endless questions and piled volumes of books and videos in my arms. Then I found a most wonderful woman who is Muslim, Dr. Sahar Albakkal. She has guided me for the past three years. I have consulted her on everything from Ramadan, prayers, Arabic names, and interpretations of the Koran. She has been the most wonderful blessing.
Research continued in the areas of weapons, flying a helicopter, police procedure, CIA, terrain and weather in the northern Middle East, PTSD, and much more.
Please note. I do not claim to be an authority on Islam and Forbidden does not encompass the full range of what it is to be a Muslim. What I have discovered foremost during my research is that the Islamic beliefs on any one point vary from one Muslim to another. Interpretations can differ widely. There are many ‘sects’ within Islam just as there are among Christians.
What I hoped to achieve in Forbidden is that the reader will receive a very minimal understanding of what it is to be a MODERATE MUSLIM. At the very least, I hope to plant the seed of understanding that Islam is a most beautiful religion, based on peace, compassion, honor, strong family values, as well as respect for all, ALL, living things on this planet.
During my interview with Imam Khattab, I came to understand that, in general, Muslims are much like Christians in that we both seek to understand the deeper meaning of the texts in our holy books, and hope to develop a closer relationship with God.