It Is You: Egyptian writer Rasha Zidan releases final novel in Roh trilogy

Amira Noshokaty , Thursday 10 Dec 2020

In her latest and final book of the Roh (Soul) trilogy, delving in the world of Sufism in the modern world, Rasha Zidan highlights the eternal wisdom of letting go

writter rasha zidan

Rasha Zidan highlights the eternal wisdom of letting go in her latest and final book of the Roh trilogy Howa Ant (It is You), which was preceded by Roh (Soul) and Laka Wahdak (For You Alone) — the first and second book respectively.

The trilogy, that has become a best seller and made quite a buzz since the first part came out in 2016, delves into the world of Sufism in the modern day through four main characters.

Roh is a young woman who embarks on a spiritual journey after being traumatised with her friend — a sufi singer named Baraa (Innocence), her sufi guide Nour (Light), along with his wife Haya (Life). The novel drifts into the mystical path of spiritual growth.

The second book, Laka Wahdak, ended with a plot twist where Roh started to acknowledge her human connection with her mentor, Nour, and faced the biggest test of all. In the final book, Roh finally develops enough wisdom to learn how to let go, however hard it may be.

Zidan carefully stitches the teachings of Sufi pillars Shams El-Tabrizi and Jalal El-Din El-Rumi with the questions and fears that people face when they deviate from the mainstream.

Part of the setting of the trilogy is set in Koneya city in Turkey where the tombs of both Sufi scholars are.

At the end of the trilogy, Roh finds herself in a situation where she is no longer twirling in the spiritual realm only, becoming more aware of her human needs.

“Roh’s journey was not different in the third book as much as it was revealing,” explained Zidan to Al-Ahram Online. “As I wrote the book, she [Roh] suddenly realised the fact that the world will turn into mirrors all around her, and such mirrors are various reflections of one’s same reality. However, she still has to decide which path to take,” added Zidan.

In the third book, God’s messages explained to Roh that it is time to let go of her heart’s desire and just fully surrender to God and leave matters of the heart for him to resolve.

The problem with Roh, like many people, is that she fell into the trap of partial surrendering. It was not easy for her to let go and allow herself to have feelings for another person.

“The moment we decide to pick and choose, we are tired and weary; like what happened to her in Casablanca, when she started having feelings for Deia and decided to fight and resent them because she insisted that such feelings should not be practiced except with Nour. When she understood God’s messages, she realised that both men are the manifestation of God’s gifts to her; that one should not be attached to a manifestation but rather to the creator himself,” Zidan added.

In the tomb of Shams El-Tabrizi, the word ‘hich’, which is Persian for Maqam Al-Fanaa (Site of Annihilation), is written; meaning a place where one of the Sufi faith can meditate and achieve a sense of oneness with God. Drawing on the meaning of such a message, the whole book revolves around the acceptance of God’s rewards regardless of their shape and timing.

The writer also highlights the fact that balance is the key to gratitude and acceptance, for one can never reach spiritual growth while carrying unresolved traumas and emotional baggage.

The novel explores the spiritual and human needs that society seldomly satisfies. Like all of us, Roh, who was entangled within her social context, breaks free from it all when she embraced her true self. At the end of the day, no matter what the obstacles are, it is you who can choose to let go of them all.

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