Revert, Convert or Muslim – A sense of not belonging.

I hear many of those who are new to Islam talk about how they struggle to develop a sense of belonging and community.

I understand this.

After all, most of those around me when I visit the mosque are Muslim whilst I’m seen as a Revert or Convert.

My own exploration of Islam began some 15 years ago. Af first I was simply intrigued and wanted to know more through reading the Quran. Over the years I discovered more and felt I could improve my own faith practice, which at that time was Christian. I wanted to learn how Muslims approached prayer, charity and fasting. My goal at that time was simply to become a better Christian.

Throughout all this time I met many other Christian’s wanting to learn more about Islam. But I never once encountered a Muslim – or found support from Muslims.

I visited a mosque on an open day. The tour was interesting but not engaging and I really learnt little.

Since becoming a Muslim in recent years I now attend the Mosque weekly and follow a number of chat groups yet I still have little or no interaction with other Muslims.

I’d feel more positive if my experiences were unique yet they really are not. Many others feels a sense of isolation and exclusion as they embrace Islam.

In part they often feel a sense of loss as their families distance themselves through a failure to understand. Their past faith communities also detach themselves from someone they feel is lost and even misguided.

Through Allah’s guidance I still became a Muslim.

I was also fortunate in that none of this was true for me. My family were positive and my Christian friends remained steadfast.

But we still need to ask ourselves why those new to Islam feel this way?

I’d suggest this is a mixture of culture and ethnicity. As a white Muslim I’ve been challenged in a mosque as to whether I was really a Muslim.

As a white European I am almost unique in my local Mosque.

Mosques seem to be generally closed to visitors for those seeking to know more about Islam – the Cambridge Central Mosque stands out for me in this regard welcoming visitors of all faiths and backgrounds throughout the day.

The first texts I read about Islam were sourced from Christian book shops, indeed I have yet to find an Islamic book shop in the South West of the UK, even within a mosque.

Apart from prayers there seem to be few social opportunities for Muslims or those simply interested in Islam to sit and chat and explore ideas and grow their faith, except on online of course.

Perhaps this is not that new. After all, Karen Armstrong in her book Islam – A short History reminds us that Islam did not initially set out embrace those from outside of their tribal groupings. She reminds us that:

“Indeed until the middle of the eighth century conversion was not encouraged. The Muslims assumed that Islam was a religion for the decendents of Ismail, as Judaism was the faith for the sons of Issac.”

Karen Armstrong Islam – A short History

Reading this left me wondering how many Muslims still feel this way? – That those new to Islam remain outsiders in their eyes.

Others have questioned whether the various titles of Reverts and Converts are simply unhelpful in this respect since they differentiate us rather than simply seeing us all as Muslims and followers of Islam?

Amina Wadud writes of how more than thirty years after becoming a Muslim by choice she discovered she had Muslim ancestors and once she shared this with a born Muslim friend they simply said “Now you are really one of us.”

“After three decades of conscious practice I need a lineage to be a real Muslim?”

Amina Wadud – My Conversion (Critical Muslim 45)

Trees, Islam and the Cambridge Central Mosque

Cambridge Central Mosque

I have always been drawn to trees.

I used to assume that this was due to spending so much of my early life amongst them. Years of playing, dog walking and exploring the woodlands that surrounded my home. Even my early artwork was obsessively focussed on trees.

A few days ago I had the privilege of visiting the Cambridge Central Mosque in the UK. I’d seen images of the mosque but nothing quite prepared me for the experience.

I first entered the mosque through the Islamic gardens which are intended to recall the four rivers of paradise. These gardens contain the first trees, the yews that are so characteristic of English churchyards and other holy sights, reminding us of both where this mosque is built and how they welcome all regardless of their religious identity.

Next I entered the shade of the portico which provides a transition from the trees of the garden to the symbolic forest of the mosques interior. The following atrium has the feeling of entering a small forrest.

“Trees in Islamic tradition represent a bridge between heaven and earth as well as reminding us of the dignity and protectiveness of heaven.”

Cambridge Central Mosque

The trees here “symbolise the four Imams of Sunni Islam and the twelve imams of Shi’a Islam reflecting the spirit of unity that runs throughout the mosque.”

Cambridge Central Mosque

From there the ‘branches’ led me into the vast main prayer hall, with a capacity of 1000. Here the trees are dramatically higher – their branches forming geometric patterns that so clearly link the Islamic with English religious Gothic design.

Daylight filters through the center of these branches to remind us that God’s blessings come through nature and grace whilst the oak grills filter the air that we breath.

This mosque in Cambridge is very recent yet its connections to the very first mosques are clear. We are told that the first mosque constructed by Muhammad in al-Medinah had tree trunks that supported the roof whilst the Prophet stood on a tree trunk to preach.

I suspect my intuitive love of trees has always had a deeper spiritual link than I could ever have realised and I now understand more clearly why that love has been so enduring.

All the Quranic verses about Jesus

This is a linked post shared from Quranic | Jan 3, 2022

It contains all the references to Jesus from the Quran in a really helpful order aiding us in our Islamic understanding of Jesus, his life and role in our faith.

Visit here to find out more about

Quranic – Arabic for Busy People

Is it an insult to be called a “Quranist”?

As a new Muslim you can feel as though it’s so easy to make mistakes.

We encounter endless posts and videos online telling us what is right and wrong, and in such detail, about every part of our lives.

Often these posts simply offer opinions. Options mostly based on tradition, ethic and cultural norms. Almost never offering any link to scripture.

When first exploring Islam I experienced an angry backlash when politely asking people to point me towards Allahs (Gods) word on the matter. They accused me of being a “Quranist” and offered nothing in return.

They simply couldn’t, there was nothing to find. Their guidance was simply not Islamic.

If following in the prophets footsteps and seeking to live out the revelations of Allah (God) from scripture makes me a “Quaranist” then I’m proud of that.

When Isa (Jesus) was tempted by Shayton (the devil), he didn’t just offer personal responses but replied by clearly quoting scripture, the word of Allah (God), from Deuteronomy and Psalms.

When (Matt 4;3) Shayton (the devil) says “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

(Isa)Jesus responded by quoting from the book of Deuteronomy. 8:3, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:1-11

When seeking to better understand Islam and how we should think, act and behave, yes listen to the thoughts of those you encounter but also be careful to test what they say against scripture, Gods word, and then the ways of the Prophet as told to us in Hadith.

If those around you are unable to offer any evidence from Allahs (Gods) word then pass them by and seek your answers elsewhere.

O you who have believed, obey Allāh and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allāh and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allāh and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.

Surah 4 An-Nissa verse 59 – — Saheeh International

It’s either Haram or not – don’t complicate it!

For someone entering the Islamic faith, especially from a background where you have seen so little of the ways of Muslims, then it can be challenging to know what is right and what is wrong.

More importantly what is Islamic and what is cultural or simply based on traditions or even just personal opinions.

As you move forward into the Islamic faith it does actually become much clearer and I hope the following will help you.

Haram is simply those things that are forbidden or prohibited. Things we are simply told not to do – such as not to eat pork (Quran 2:173).

There are a number but this is not the place to try and list them. If you are unsure then read the Quran itself. The more you read it the more you will understand for yourself and you will find either direct answers or that your conscience will tell you what is and what isn’t ok to do. Even more importantly it will tell you why.

Essentially everything else is fine… the simple answer is that if it is not forbidden then it is Halal – permissible.

You will of course encounter many things which aren’t clearly Halal or Haram, such as music, but what becomes clearer is that it is the way we make use of them or the situation within which they may get in used that makes them Halal or Haram.

Some seek to offer further guidance around this with Sunni Muslims offering five categories around permissibility (Hanafis offer seven.)

For Sunni’s these are:

1. Obligatory (fard or wajib)

2. Recommended (mandub or mustahabb)

3. Neither recommended nor disliked (mubah)

4. Disliked (makruh)

So this can be helpful but equally important is to remember that all of those above are Halal – permissible.

So what isn’t Haram is Halal.

Do women need separate prayer spaces?

I’m presently working with my employer to create a prayer space, initially for Ramadan but hopefully beyond.

Koutoubia Mosque

The question I found my self asking was whether it’s ok to share a prayer space between men and women. The answer surprised me.

My experience of UK mosques is that women pray in different prayer spaces from men.

However a recent visit to Morocco made me question this approach – is it required by faith or simply cultural?

Yes the new mosque in Casablanca separates men and women yet the old mosque in Marrakesh, the Koutoubia Mosque, doesn’t.

In this mosque women pray in the same space as the men albeit to one side and behind. There is no wall or curtain between.

This encouraged me to reflect and read with the following conclusions.

Firstly we are taught by the Quran to:

“… obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger…”

Quran Surah 4:59

So lets explore what the prophet did when praying in the presence of women.

Firstly he commanded us to:

“offer your prayers in the way you saw me offering my prayers”

Malik ibn Al-Huwairith

So how did he offer his prayers in the presence of women?

Anas ibn Maalik narrates how:

“…the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood, and the orphan and I stood behind him, and the old lady stood behind us, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led us in praying two rak’ahs, then he left.”

Anas ibn Maalik

This teaches us that women can pray in the same space as men.

Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath:

“that women should stand behind the men’s rows, and a woman should form a row on her own if no other woman is present.”

Anas ibn Maalik. Al-Bukhaari (380) and Muslim (658)

But most pertinent to instruction is that there is no mention of any screen, curtain, wall or isolated prayer space.

The belief and practice of both of these is linked to culture and tradition only.

Lets challenge such limiting traditions and follow the Prophet and Quran more closely than cultural norms.

This fatwa is offered:

Women should be allowed to pray in the main musalla (prayer space) with men, praying behind the men with no barrier in-between men and women, as it was the practice of Prophet Muhammad.

Fiqh Council of North America 19 January 2022

Note: Praying behind is a mark of respect for women not subjugation – more on another occasion about this.

Shared Prayer Spaces

A few years ago I was amazed to be sat in a UK cathedral at a service for students led jointly by an Muslim Imam and Christian Bishop. It was one of those moment that led me to believe that Islam might be open to me.

Yet the more I explore the more examples I find…

In 2014 Pope Francis, following the example of Pope Benedict conducted a silent prayer alongside Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran in Instanbul’s Blue Mosque.

More recently I read about the House of One in Berlin, which has been called a “churmosquagogue” that will bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together under one roof. A shared prayer space that will connect the faiths whilst allowing each to retain its own identity.

In Wolverhampton in the UK the Bishop Clive Gregory and the Imam at Wolverhampton Central mosque, Rashid Raja, have developed the idea of ‘The Bishop and the Imam’ assemblies in schools.

With Ramadan starting soon it’s heart warming to see the Church of England offering guidance around Muslims using its buildings to celebrate Eid. (Click here to read more)

It’s easy to think that this is just modern times and a dilution of true faith … But that’s not true at all.

We know that when Muhammad encountered the Christians of Najran he engaged in dialogue and when they decided to exit the mosque in order to pray their daily prayers outdoors as a sign of the respect that they had for the Islamic prayer space Muhammad had other ideas:

‘As a sign of respect that he had for his Christian guests Muhammad informed the Najranites that they were already present in a house of god and that they were welcome to offer their Christian prayers inside al-Masjid al-Nabawi.”

|People of the Book – Considine 2021 (Ibn Is-haaq [Tafseer Ibn Katheer])

So can Muslims pray in a Church?

There seems some debate around this largely framed around the icons and figures that might be found in some churches. However we are also aware that the Prophet Muhammad himself prayed at the Kabah at a time when there were images in it.

‘Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: There is nothing wrong with praying in a church that is clean. It is also included in the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “Wherever you are when the time for prayer comes, pray, for it [the earth] is a place of prayer.”

End quote from al-Mughni, 1/407. – Click here to explore this further.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (A reminder of the monotheistic faith of Christians, Jews and Muslims)

There is often confusion around the shared beliefs of Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is frequently fuelled by those who wish to find differences in order to make one or another branch of our shared faith better than another.

Those who do this step away from Gods own words in the Quran.

Although God clearly states that some have gone astray, he remains clear in his praise for all those who remain faithful.

None should not dispute these revelations.

“They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.”

Quran 3:113 -115 (Clear

I recently encountered the Shema prayer that Jews (People of the book) recite daily, morning and evening. They also say this prayer as their last words.

I was struck by the similarity of these words that are in both the Torah and the first part of the Christian bible and the practices of Muslims.

The prayer is focussed on these lines:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (ESV) – The foundations of the Shema prayer

This prayer is a statement of faith and offers praise to God. Most importantly it reminds us of the monotheistic faith that underpins Judaism, Christianity and Islam – a belief that there is only the same one God.

This prayer was declared by Moses (Musa – Arabic) as he addressed the people of Israel as they prepared to enter the new lands. In this prayer he urged them not to repeat the mistakes of their parents. The prayer teaches them to listen (the Hebrew word for listen is where this prayer gets its name) and love God with all their hearts and all their minds.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV)

So lets seek to recognise our shared faith as “People of the Book” and step away from seeking to divide a faith God sees so clearly as one

“You don’t need to find an alternative scripture for what has already been given to you.”

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall proper”

This post is written in response to someone who had a passage from Christian scripture that spoke to him so clearly and yet as a new Muslim he felt the need to find the equivalent from the Quran and to leave that Christian scripture behind.

As a Christian I was drawn to Islam over some 15 years. It was the parallels and shared beliefs that felt so natural. So eventually I simply became Muslim – in my Iman’s words “I was Muslim already” … there was no struggle for me or any need to abandon my Christian background.*

Many reverts however feel a need to leave their past behind them as they enter the Islamic faith. In some cases this may well be wise and yet in others unnecessary.

The Quran speaks positively on many occasions about the people of the book (Ahl al Kitab) the people of the shared scripture. The Quran does not refer to them as people of the false book.

The Quran speaks critically on many occasions around how some people have strayed from those messages. See Surah 2 Al-Baqara verse 92 for example, but that’s a different discussion to the scripture itself and for another day.

Returning to Christian scripture the Quran clearly states …

“let the People of the Gospel judge by what God has revealed therein.”

Surah 5 Al-Maaida Verse 47

Mohamed (pbuh) was instructed by God that if he was doubt about the revelations made to him he was to ask the readers of the previous scriptures, the Jews and the Christians to confirm and asks us not to doubt our Lord.

“So if you are in doubt about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters.”

Surah 10 Yunus Verse 94

So who are we to doubt Gods word.

So my advice is hold onto your scriptures and the guidance within as you also embrace the Quran and grow further. You will over time find other passages that speak to you as significantly but you might also never leave your past soul behind.

Most importantly you don’t need to find an alternative quote for what has already been given to you.

* As a note here is it important to understand that like many Christians over the centuries I did not hold a Trinitarian belief and simply prayed to God as my sole source of salvation. I will endeavour to explore this further in a future post.

Exploring Contemporary Islam 1:

“Female imams have existed in China since the 19th century, and in South Africa since 1995. In Los Angeles, the Women’s Mosque of America opened last year. In the UK, the American Islamic scholar Amina Wadud led mixed Friday prayers in Oxford in 2008, prompting protests. Plans for a female-run mosque in Bradford are progressing, although prayers will be led by a male imam.”

In Denmark, she said, 90% of mosques were traditional. “We represent a modernist, spiritual approach to Islam. We are seeking to create an alternative voice, without delegitimising others. We want the Mariam mosque to be a place where everyone can come, and we can flourish together. What happens in a mosque goes way beyond the mosque itself – it affects society.”

You have to know Arabic to become a Muslim … ?

My own early attempts to understand and learn Arabic

I am going to suggest that you do not, but also why it’s a good idea in the long term.

To become a Muslim you simply have to submit to God (Allah in Arabic) and you do this through the declaration of faith, the Shahada*, (literally ‘the testimony’).

*”I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Mohammed is the Messenger of God.”

Yes, you could learn this in Arabic and this is great, but even more wonderful is that you clearly understand and truely commit to what you are saying. If that is best done in your native language then so be it.

Its worth noting that some mosques conduct all of their services in the language of the country they are based in to become more open to those joining the ummah (the islamic community).

Likewise when learning to pray (Salah) , you will include a number or chapters (Surah’s) from the Quran. As you do so make sure you don’t simply learn by copying the sounds from an audio file or reading transliterations from Arabic into your native language, Instead start in your own language and make sure you understand each and every word and phrase so you pray with meaning rather than simple repetitions.

Put simply Allah wouldn’t wish language to be a barrier to the Islamic faith for any nation.

“You are all brothers and are all equal. None of you can claim any privilege or any superiority over any other. An Arab is not to be preferred to a non-Arab, nor is a non Arab to be preferred to an Arab; nor is a white man to be preferred to a coloured one, or a coloured one to a white, except on the basis of righteousness”.

(The Prophet in his farewell speech – Hanbal V p411)

Why is it so important to begin to learn the Surah’s in Arabic?

If you read the Quran in your own language then you are reading translations from the original text. When translating a text it is almost impossible to do a word for word translation and retain any coherence. Therefore translators focus on translating through meaning, and in doing so they are sharing their own understanding which may differ from others.

I now have three Quran’s which have translations into English all purchased from the same Mosque in London, all three differ in their translations in various ways, mostly minor but sometime significantly in their expiations. Now is not the time to explore this further though and I’d just ask you to accept this as a reason to start to learn Arabic so that you can read the original text in the language it was shared with us by God.

A great Quran for English readers to buy is Al-Quran Al-Karim: The Nobel Quran. This has the Quran in Arabic alongside a translation into English by meaning and importantly a word by word translation from the Arabic which allows you to start to compare the two.

As you progress then yes you should start to learn to recite your prayers in Arabic, especially since these prayers require you to learn chapters from the Quran (I’d suggest you always start with the short ones at the end eg Surah’s 103 – 114 again more on that in another post).

So pray and read the Quran, in your native language if that ensures your understand of what you are reading and saying.

As time moves on then try to learn to recite in Arabic at first and then later to read in Arabic. But above all don’t let the Arabic language become a barrier to either your understanding or your faith.

Remember I’ve emphasised that you might ‘begin’ to learn the Arabic. This was a significant challenge for me and I’ll share my thoughts on that in another post.

*Note: The Arabic terms here are expressed through Transliterations – these are literally the sound of the Arabic words expressed in the English alphabet. Since there are some Arabic sounds that do not have equivalents in English these are at best approximations. I need to also to add that I live in a household of mixed ethnicity and some of the transliterations and words also reflect this mixed English and Urdu heritage. I make no apologies for this and see this as the richness of our Islamic community.

Al-Quran Al-Karim: The Nobel Quran

Be the change you wish to see in the world* …

In a recent post a Muslim revert described their fears around moving from an country where Islam was dominant to a location in the West where there were few, if any other Muslims.

She expressed her fear for her young sons …

“I’m worried about my boys. They’re doing so well here and of course learning Arabic and Qur’an and hadiths, duas, Islamic etiquette, etc. Masha’Allah. I’m afraid that if we go there and stay for a while, which is what we’re planning on doing, that my boys will be negatively impacted by the culture there, especially in school. …I just keep thinking, my boys are so wonderful Masha’Allah… what if they change? Then it’ll be my fault for bringing them there.“

My own daughter experienced significant changes when moving from India to the UK to complete her schooling and she is now in a gap year before University. We likewise live in an area with few Muslims and have only one mosque within an hours drive from us.

My daughter has many western friends, even one who is going through a gender change. She lives in a world where alcohol is an essential component of any gathering.

But importantly her faith and the strength of her moral upbringing has kept her on the straight path, and her approach to life is starting to shape others around her, some have stopped consuming alcohol for example.

I’m in the process of establishing, with my employer a prayer space to use during work hours. They’ve never been asked before but are supportive and its about to happen.

Its easy to fear that we don’t have the strength to survive outside of an Islamic community. But significantly we seem to question to power of our Islamic faith. This is sad.

Yes, life in a world vastly different to our beliefs is challenging but if we all retreat to places we feel are safe we then we make little difference in this world and fail to spread our faith.

Da’wah is the act of inviting or calling people to Islam and I believe that we can do that most effectively by the example we set in our every day lives.

If those lives are only lived amongst fellow Muslims then the impact will be small. If those lives are lived amongst the wider world then the potential is incredible.

So my response to anyone who is asking the same question is worry less about where you live and more about the example you set. Most importantly believe in the strength of your faith.

Let’s believe we can make a difference in this world rather than fearing the world will change us.

*Quoted from Ghandi

Just Pray … learning from Astronauts

Edit: Ramadan 2023 …

How people in space will observe fast during Ramadan 2023? 

The International Space Station (ISS) will see 16 sunrises and sunsets over the course of 24 hours – either happening every 45 minutes approximately for people fasting there.

Gulf News

I recently discovered that there is guidance for how a Muslim astronaut should pray in space. Yes it’s true, this guidance was the result of 150 scholars and Muslim scientists who gathered to discuss these issues and offer guidance.

Discussions were had around how the individual would manage wudu in an environment with limited water and even less earth on board the spaceship.

How to face Mecca and what time to pray when travelling at such a high speed and they would see the sunset and rise some 16 times a day.

As they spin they they might be unable to face the earth let alone Mecca.

The resulting guidance around how to pray in an environment so different from that experienced by Muhammed simply used common sense.

The conclusion was that they could simply adopt a time zone from earth (They suggested they based this on the launch site) and to set their times from there and face earth when they can. For wudu they simply offered him a grain of salt.

But above all they suggested that even if there were challenges the bottom line was just to pray.

So what can we learn from this?

Across the world many Muslims live in places where their lives are so different from the world the Prophet Muhammed inhabited. For example Muslims in Northern Europe may well face similar issues due to the long nights and long days at different times of the year. Others might find the same issue around a shortage of precious water.

When discussing prayers I see many people suggesting that if just one small detail is wrong your prayers are invalid and worse still some even threaten hell and damnation.

Such unhelpful guidance fails the recognise the complexity and challenges of a changing world and the experiences of Muslims across the globe.

Such responses also forget that the Prophet Muhammed adapted his prayer routines as he travelled and at times through lack of water.

So simply pray and pray, how and where works for you remembering that that core pillar of Islam simply guides us to pray.

Yes, follow the instructions within the Quran and the guidance set by the example of the Prophet Mohammed whenever you can. But if you are a new Muslim or challenged by your situation just focus on prayer itself.

If we focus on the complexity of prayer we’ll often stop ourselves completing the basics.

So Pray…and remember Allah is all forgiving (Al-Ghafūr الغفور)

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].”

Surah 2:45

Modesty and male responsibility

We all, men and women, have a role to play in ensuring modesty.

It is important to read Surah 24:30 before and alongside Surah 24:31.

Allah has provided us with both verses and has deliberatly placed Surah 24:30 first to ensure that men understand the importance of their role as well as women.

Surah 24:30 tells us …
(O Prophet), enjoin believing men to cast down their looks29 and guard their private parts.30 That is purer for them. Surely Allah is well aware of all what they do.

Hadith also illustrates this point. We are told about when the Prophet rode with Al Fadl bin Abbas. A woman of striking beauty approached the Prophet to seek his advice and the prophets travelling companion began to stare at at the woman.

The prophet Muhammad did not tell the woman off for her immodesty but instead he “reached his hand backwards, catching Al Fadl’s chin, and turned his face to the other side so that he would not gaze at her”