As salaamu alai kum wa rahmatullahi wa barakath,
While I was checking my inbox this morning, I received an email from Goodreads inviting everyone who had read Paulo Coelho’s bestseller, ‘The Alchemist’ to ask him any questions if any for a discussion group event to be held on April 2nd 2013, as you may know, this is the Goodreads version of another social network’s similarly titled but much more famous discussion group where they invite celebrities et al for a tête-à-tête with readers across the world, now the book itself is something I had read a long way back, and one of those books I had read cover to cover, though I had a few questions I could ask Coelho, I still wanted to refresh my memory regarding the book itself, so off I went to Wikipedia’s page for ‘The Alchemist’.
Of the many things I read, one thing caught my attention, the ‘The Alchemist’ itself was not Coelho’s first publication but his sixth and all of his previous books were failures, while this too appeared that it was going to tread the same path as the Alchemist’s first publisher, a local publishing house in Brazil, after having had very reasonable success with the book told Coelho in no uncertain terms that, that it was never going to sell, and that “he could make more money in the stock exchange”.
What Coelho did next is inspiring to all those Muslims wanting to bounce back and or reinvent, rediscover themselves.
In his own words: Needing to heal himself from this setback, Coelho set out to leave Rio de Janeiro with his wife and spent 40 days in the Mojave Desert. Returning from the excursion, Coelho decided he had to keep on struggling. Coelho was “so convinced it was a great book that he started knocking on doors”.
His faith in his book increased.
The results you ask?
65 million copies sold and still counting.
Translated into more than 70 languages.
One of the best selling books in history!
Most interestingly, the book itself is about the spiritual journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago and how he leaves home to find his calling. What amazing coincidence!
Conclusion: The book itself is not something I espouse, but if anyone’s interested in reading such books then I very strongly recommend Maulana Zulfiqar Naqsbandi’s ‘The Return Journey’ – a brilliant all round book on the pious Shaikh’s travels across central Asia, from Lahore to Bukhara and Samarkand.
Paulo Coelho later became one of the best known novelists in living memory, and every book of his since then is awaited with bated breath, yet without the Shahadah all of his fortunes will come to naught and he will be forgotten but for Muslims the stakes are unbelievably high, so before its too late…
Leave home in khuruj and find your spiritual calling, leave home for 40 days or in its multiples for even though WE don’t know, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala definitely knows that…there’s something about 40 !
Wa alai kumm as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakath.