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A Blessed Olive Tree: A Spiritual Journey in Twenty Short Stories (Book Review)

On an initial view of the book, the story titles caught my eye – I had never seen a book on spirituality have themes such as ‘Witches’ or ‘Superman’…

I recently had the pleasure to read ‘A Blessed Olive Tree – A Spiritual Journey in Twenty Short Stories’ written by Zain Hashmi. The book touches upon topics that are linked with spiritualism and Islamic teachings, yet presents them in a light understandable manner. The stories have multiple layers of meaning that each reader can comprehend at a different level. This feature allows both adults and children the pleasure of reading it and extracting an array of wisdom from each theme.  

The avenues of wisdom navigate from a basic understanding of religious fundamentals, moral enlightenment, human existence, components of an ideal life, pathways of success, elements of human conscience, understanding love and righteousness, and so much more. With each story being a few pages long, the author presents each topic in a straightforward yet abstract manner – something that I feel requires an extremely creative mind to produce.  

On an initial view of the book, the story titles caught my eye… I had never seen a book on spirituality have themes such as ‘Witches’ or ‘Superman’. The unique pictorial illustrations that are given with each story capture their essence very well and can be a point of interest for visual and young readers. Almost all the chapters end with footnotes, facilitating the reader to understand hidden meanings behind certain parts of each story. What is interesting about the footnotes is that they quote elements ranging from verses of the Holy Quran, poetry, and even song lyrics all teaching great spiritual knowledge to its readers.  

The book is very captivating. The stories put you on an emotional roller coaster, leaving you at times with goosebumps and at others with surges of warmth in your heart. Each story will make you stop and think… even go back and reread certain points and take notes in order to reflect later on. Most stories leave you wide-eyed with intelligent twists. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in one sitting. 

My personal favorite stories were ‘Kumari’, ‘The King’ and ‘The Witch’. ‘Kumari’ may be a very relatable story for many people. It touches upon the topics of personal religious beliefs, religious bias, and religious stigmas. It displays how personal definitions can, at times, create bias and raise walls, preventing humans from ‘seeing’ others and the good inside them. As humans, we are too fast to judge a book by its cover and forget that God is the only entity that has the capacity to view what is inside the hearts of others and to fairly judge. The moral of this story has been displayed so beautifully that it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.  

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Zain Hashmi has displayed a unique take on spirituality. His writing style is concise, yet deep enough to pull you into it. He has illustrated his knowledge on spirituality in a way that others can also comprehend and apply to their daily lives, allowing all of us to try and become better human beings.  

I feel that this book could serve as an excellent source of enlightenment for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Readers of all ages will appreciate the storytelling narrative allowing them to visualize each scenario and extract the practical wisdom each of them presents. In all honesty, I feel that this book should be a part school curriculum in Islamic countries and religious schools around the world. Exposure to the content could help our future generation mould into more humble and self-aware citizens of the world. 

In this modern-day and age, I highly recommend ‘A Blessed Olive Tree – A Spiritual Journey in Twenty  Short Stories’ for everyone to read! The book is available from Amazon here.

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