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The Lost Hadith

Author(s): S. Milsap Thorpe

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the CIA places Sergeant Burns, who is also a professor of religious studies in civilian life, on special assignment to decipher a pendant that belonged to the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, A’isha. Competing Islamic factions, each led by fanatical clerics, pursue Burns across the Middle East as he uses the clues found on the pendant to search for a forbidden Hadith; writings about Muhammad that threaten to tear Islam apart. The clerics resort to kidnapping Burns’ daughter while she vacations in France and plan to exchange her for the Hadith. The CIA learns that Burns now plans to exchange the Hadith for his daughter, which they cannot allow. The Lost Hādīth is loosely based on actual event during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Excerpt


The white SUV that had followed al-Hakim earlier sat parked on Pembroke Street. The two young men inside were of Middle Eastern descent. The passenger spotted Burns walking with al-Hakim.
 
Both men, in their middle twenties, were dressed in Western attire, slacks, golf shirts and tennis shoes. They were close shaven and had short hair. The passenger considered the two photographs he held of Burns and al-Hakim. He elbowed the driver awake and signaled towards the two men. "It is them," the passenger said.
 
"Okay," said the driver. "Wait until they turn on Saint Andrew's Street." The driver started the vehicle and followed at a slow pace down the street, keeping a safe distance.
 
Burns and al-Hakim turned left onto Saint Andrew's Street. Al-Hakim dangled the pendant on the necklace in his hand, looking at it occasionally.
 
The SUV pulled up and stopped short of the intersection, blocking traffic. Both men jumped out and headed for the professors.
 
"Hey!" a motorist yelled out his driver's window. "You can't park there." He honked his horn several times.
 
Burns caught the commotion out of the corner of his eye and saw two men charging in his direction. "Watch it, Ahmed!" he shouted.
 
The passenger man pulled out a two-inch knife. Burns swung his backpack at him, knocking the knife out of his hand and promptly sucker-punched him in the face. The man fell to the ground, smarting.
 
Burns turned and saw the driver grab al-Hakim by his shoulders, throwing him up against the wall. The driver snatched the pendant from al-Hakim and ran back towards the SUV.
 
Burns rubbed his hurting hand and chased after the driver, al-Hakim jogging after them.
 
Burns caught up to the driver just as he reached the SUV. As the driver tried to get into it, Burns grabbed him by the seat of his pants, yanked him out and threw him up against the SUV.
 
A crowd of spectators had now gathered. The man in the car stuck behind the SUV jumped out and punched at the air saying, "Yeah! Give 'im bloody hell, mate!"
 
Burns wrestled with the driver who dropped the necklace onto the ground. Burns kneed him in the groin and gave him an uppercut punch. The driver crumpled over and fell to his knees.
 
Al-Hakim rushed over and picked up the pendant.
 
"Who're you working for?" Burns said in Arabic to the driver, shaking him by his shoulders. The driver did not respond, his head drooping. Burns released him and stepped back, looking around at all the gathering spectators.
 
"We have to get out of here," he said to al-Hakim, picking up his backpack. "These drivers nowadays," he hollered to the crowd as he backed away from the scene. "No driving etiquette. It's almost as bad as the States." He took al-Hakim by the arm and led him off.
 
"Should we not wait for the police?" al-Hakim said, panting from the event.
 
"And say what? These men were sent by imams to steal the Prophet's wife's long lost necklace? After they locked us up for being crazy, they'll confiscate the necklace as evidence."
 
"I hope you know what you are doing."
 
"Trust me." Burns led him up Saint Andrew's Street. They turned down Christ's Lane and zigzagged over to the archaeology department.
 
"Who do you think those men were?" al-Hakim said, out of breath as they entered the archaeology department at a fast pace.
 
"Specifically? I have no idea. They clearly want that." He pointed to the necklace hanging in al-Hakim's hand.
 
They entered an office and found Professor Umbridge sitting behind his desk working on his computer. Umbridge, a thin and well-kept man in his seventies, had no hair and a pencil-thin mustache. The day he retired would be the day he died. "Jonathan," al-Hakim said.
 
"Ahmed. What can I do for you?"
 
"Please may I introduce to you to my friend, Professor Patrick Burns, from Claremont College in California?"
 
"Nice to meet you," Burns said.
 
"The pleasure's all mine, Professor." Umbridge stood, and Burns shook his hand. "Please sit," Umbridge said, waving to the chairs in front of his desk.
 
"May I ask a favor of you?" al-Hakim said, sitting down next to Burns.
 
"Of course."
 
"This necklace and pendant. Patrick and I are working on identifying them for research we are doing." He handed them to Umbridge. "Could you take a look and perhaps tell us what you think as to the age and origin?"
 
Umbridge studied the pendant first, turning it over and back again. "Hm." He pulled out a magnifying monocle from his desk drawer and inserted it into his right eye socket. "I should say," he said in a thick British accent. "Astonishing." Turning it over, he studied it some more.
 
Burns and Al-Hakim waited patiently.
 
"Incredible," Umbridge said. "This is beyond belief." He next studied the necklace, running it up and down through his fingers. "Extraordinary." Finally, he took his monocle out and looked up at the two men. "The pendant is definitely Arabic, bronze, 7th century perhaps, the necklace, Yemenite Beads. I should say its characteristics suggest it was made between the years 600 and 900 CE." Umbridge put his monocle back up to his eye and studied the pendant again.
 
"What is it, Jonathan?" al-Hakim said.
 
"A'isha, Umm al-mu'minin," Umbridge said, reading from the pendant.
 
Al-Hakim glanced at Burns who raised his eyebrows and nodded in agreement. Umbridge leaned back in his chair and caught his breath, dropping the monocle back into his hand. "It indicates this may have belonged to A'isha, Muhammad's most influential and favorite wife. But you already know this."
 

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-62420-078-6
Genre: Thriller
Date Published: 06/06/2014
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press

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