Words ..

Written February 2012.

“I’ll go find you now”, she says.

P.S. the first comment on this post is the nicest comment published on this blog, across its whole seven years.

P.P.S. this is the unedited version, the one in the book is more refined, while this is more.. raw?

Humph..

Forgive yourself. The balm that’s the palm of your hand; it’s real, Ibraheem, I have felt it. Cherish that. I know that giving up on those who believed in you more than you did once is guilt climaxed, but do know that you can still love them. It’s not the end, yet. It’s life.

It’s okay to miss a moment that everyone else enjoyed, it means your ones aren’t all around, yet. Wait. Patience. Do you not know of fate? do you not know of the horizons of its mercy? There will come a she whose wish come true, is her wish come you. Soon.

Being judged by you is different. It’s okay. The vagueness of you, swallows the anger in me. That moment, when you have shone on me, with that red hearted rose of mallow. That moment, my dear, was perfect.

You’re a drawer of smiles, and laughs. You’re entertainment. It’s vogue. Don’t be sad about it. They are comfortable around you. You’re safe, ibhog. You safe. You home.

Sometimes, life brings out the worst in people, but if you watch close enough, the worst in people is beautiful. You know why? because it’s the end of it. Once the worst is out, what’s left is their pure hearts, and their yearning to your embrace.

And sometimes, my love, life brings out the worst in you, and then it all wraps itself in you with a lesson learned in humility, and in wisdom. When guilt sheds itself around your deeds, when your conscience curls around your acts, that’s when you become great. Much of the good of this world is owed to the sins of its people, do know that.

Whether you’re close to Him or not, He’s always around protecting you.

Do know that too ..

I wish my words for you weren’t that broken. So instead, I’ll give you silence. I know you like it. I know you love the presence of me in your thoughts; an emblem of hope, a figment of a thousand dreams in one. A vision that’s all pauses .. I am.

For you ..

A message to you: one day, you’ll see that which I’ve always wanted (and needed) you to see. It seems hopeless now, as much as I wish for progress, somehow you dive in vanity. But I know, that the worst in people tows behind it the best in them. You’re reckless and neurotic, but I know, that deep down your heart, someone will light a candle one day. I just wish, then, that you’d remember my tears.

Imagine that we never knew the moon existed, and then we wake up to see it a perfect white. How will it feel? Now, imagine that each month, we forget it ever existed, and then the one night wake up to see it a perfect white, again?

Am I that usual for you now? Do I have to disappear, so that you’d miss me? So that you’d know my real worth? Am I already a crescent? or the shadows of your doubts finally had me? Whatever happens, I love you. You’re you, you know. You were never a choice. You were destiny, for my heart.

Complete love is that moment when the idea of them being away never even crosses your mind. In the details of your fabric, that idea for you is tantamount, in sense, to the sun rising from the west. If it takes place one day, then it’s the end of everything.

I count your hugs. I don’t know the figure, I just know that I count, and that each time I’m in your arms, I forget where I stopped, so I start all over again.

I’ll go find you now ..

Abandoned Cashmere – I

Every Friday I spend  two minutes before the Imam climbs up the pulpit stairs preparing a prayer. I usually find it difficult to condense my wishes in a sentence short enough for the very few number of steps he takes to reach his stand. Some Imams have enough awareness of people’s hearts they usually take pauses along that special, few seconds journey, and others, well, either forget, or cast the whole matter in a hole of nonchalance. Certain Fridays, the Imam is late, and I’d be stranded in a row eagerly honing my senses towards his impending presence, and, I believe because I hadn’t deserved it, he passes me by and flies up there without my notice, and my prayer gets lost to my dismay that way.

Sometimes I concede to dividing my prayers across future Fridays, especially when my heart is heavy with a handful of them, and I steal more seconds and spend them on prioritizing: do I give this to my future wife, to my father, or to me? On a general scheme, my Friday rostrum wishes across the past four years were quite equally divided between my asking for forgiveness, praying for my wife, or for my father’s well being. I’m saying quite equally, because entire months in the middle were won by her, my non-existent, beautiful, graceful and infinitely bashful wife.

Now let me get a bit linguistic. When someone tells you they’re praying for someone, you usually understand that they’re wishing them something upon God, but when they pray for something, it means they’re wishing the very thing upon Him. When I say I’m praying for my wife, it means I’m wishing her existence upon our Creator. You’d think I’m selfish, but you’d be wrong; in my mind, and by some uprooted logic, or a rooted desire, she is good enough the praying ought to be for her (existence), and my (wishes). God hasn’t answered either yet.

Three years ago I visited a Cashmere shop in India and thought about buying a scarf for my future wife. I was too cynical by then for that sudden thought to manifest on spot. A year later, I walked up to a blonde girl in a French mall by the Opera in Paris, and told her to pick a simple cashmere scarf for a lady. She smiled back the challenge and we browsed through the shelves, and I walked away with a very neat package, folding in my dream encounter. I went back home, wrote a very long, heartening post, and bid my gift farewell and left it in the safe confines of own closet, and heart, and let it wait, with me.

Six months went by before that scarf surrendered itself to feminine hands, and submitted itself to the scrutiny of the female mind, yet to the warmth of such a heart. By a sad twist of fate that swore itself in secrecy, however, the endeavor had to roll back, cracking two chests in the process, and the cashmere, disheartened, folded itself together if not in haste, then in frustration, and found itself back in my cold closet, and heart. This time, though, I conversed with it and asked it whether we shall repeat our wait. It replied with a pink mumble, a retreat, and a vow of unsettled, breathless silence. It accused me of precipitation, and asked of me not to sacrifice love’s wisdom for love, ever again. Like a disciple, I heeded the vestal’s words, and left her to her lot.

On the top right shelf of my closet she now rests, at times breathing in diamond shine, originating from a top left chamber in the same closet of broken dreams. Down below, lies a returned gift. Up above, remains one that was especially made, but never presented. The emblem, dear readers, lurches on my writer’s heart, often in painful pangs. Alhamdulilah.

In an effort to untie the intricate knot lodged inside my sigh, I even made a book after the cashmere scarf, and maybe that didn’t heal anything.

But then I ask myself, all those months later, with eyes so eclipsed with fatigue.

Why have my prayers not been answered?

Might be continued,

On abandoning Hijab.. 5

Ibraheem,

I need to express how frustrating it sometimes is, when a man like yourself analyzes women that way. I know you honored me with the word ‘Jihad’, but somewhere down the line, you still strike me as someone who has no clue about what I’m enduring. I might be wrong, for how would you know anyway, but I resolve it to be necessary for you to be informed about that light shade of ire.

As for your elaborate message, let me reply in the following concrete points:

I prefer we leave ‘fashion’, ‘beauty’ and ‘attraction’ out of our discussion. Although you have been reminded of it by them, they have no direct relation to my cause of having it in the first place. I admit your line of thought was logical, but let’s assume now that my Hijab adheres to the rules of Sharia, not because it necessarily does, but because if it didn’t, it wouldn’t make any difference to how I approach its entire concept lately. The matter extends beyond that, sorrily.

Your sentences along with a couple of posts you’ve written recently seem to indicate how bent you are on the idea of, how should I put it, changing how women live their lives nowadays, especially the religious ones. Now, besides the fact that this is difficult, and I dare say is even unrealistic, it does negatively impact my idea of religion, although you think it should do the opposite; as a sister I actually fought against the very notion you’re preaching, and I helped many Muslim women break through this enforced cocoon many men put them in, all the while keeping all Islamic practices, on top of which is Hijab. Women need society more than men, the fact that nowadays’ society is male dominated (or infected) should urge you to change men, rather than women. Instead of asking women to adhere to Sharia, you should also ask men to adhere to it too.

Because, frankly speaking, if say I was convinced of what you’re saying and I ultimately retreated into my primary role as a woman and focused on the upbringing of small human beings and the sustenance of big human beings, emotional and physical, while those human beings have not changed (or worse, think they shouldn’t), then I’m afraid the circle you are trying to close will still have a breach in its surface, and the suffering that results in my chest would be the same I’m enduring outside my home anyway, if not doubled.

Many men fall in the trap of thinking that a single party ought to start fixing society. I dare say you’re one of them. You think that certain transgressions you share with women in your relationships have different repercussions on their part when it comes to Islamic obligation. You think that in order for things to be fixed, they have to change, not you. And you know what, some women actually believe in that. They believe that they ought to change into beings that fulfill God’s intention of them, and they forget that men are as guilty at disappointing this very intention.

Let me clarify that I’m not ignorant when it comes to knowing that when the miracle happens and both parties divine that change, they will do so in very different manners, since they are different in nature at the end. My argument rather concentrates on the will to change in the first place, and the false allegation that says it’s the duty of women only, because for some unknown reason, their deviation from Sharia was acuter.

You’d be surprised to also know that not so small portion of women’s agony all around the world is deeply rooted into a solid ground covering the arrogant stagnation of men. Religiously speaking, I would even extend my view and throw a bigger part of the responsibility on your likes, since according to Islam men are held accountable for women, not the other way around. The societal and moral precondition is a responsibility that men share.

In order to summarize my point and answer your question. Hijab’s preconditions are theoretically important, yes, but as long as men do not take part in achieving them, then I’m sad to say that for them to manifest in practice a sun has to rise somewhere from the west.

yours,

T.

On abandoning Hijab.. 4

Read the first three parts here, here and here.

—-

T,

I know I’m such a slacker. The list of unwritten drafts is growing and I should’ve replied to you ages ago. I’ve written about Hijab before, the misconceptions surrounding it, its grace and solemnity but these days and after I came across many fashion related Hijab sites and groups, something struck me, and I remembered our discussion.

Many women think that Hijab should look good. This might be an understatement, an overstatement or simply bad expression on my part, but the main idea is: being a Hijabi doesn’t mean I should look like a moving mess. Well right, but the thing is, Hijab by design is very crippling – how can something crippling look nice?

And here comes the point. Let’s put it point blank: Hijab is not a comfortable thing – at least correct Hijab isn’t. The Hijab that covers you properly, doesn’t describe your physical features, and that doesn’t attract attention, is rather a very strenuous effort. You wouldn’t move freely in full Hijab, you wouldn’t sit, hang around or eat outdoors with complete freedom. Something would always be missing; it’d either make it hard with hot weather, or be just in the way of something. Your Islamic long Jilbab would gather dust and soil, your skirt might fool you and get stuck under a chair or a desk, or God forbid, in a car door! You would naturally wait the moment you get back home to free yourself from Hijab. If it really feels comfy and nice, you would hang around at home in it, wouldn’t you?

Hijab is Jihad – if it isn’t, then something is wrong. Many ladies take pride in this, and when I ever think about putting myself in their shoes, I fail to imagine how I’d handle it. I mean, my day is usually ruined when a pair of pants are a bit extra tight or a bit too wide, or when I even have to wear a freaking suit and tie. So Hijabis are Jihadists in their own way, and we guys would never really understand.

Now comes the point about fashion: I believe it’s an innocent attempt at making Hijab as comfortable as possible for Muslim women, so that they’d be able to actually keep wearing it! Keyword: comfortable. Nowadays however, the keyword is ‘beautiful’ and ‘attractive’. That’s why whenever I find fashion besides Hijab, it is almost always a Hijab that doesn’t fully adhere to the rules of Sharia.

And do you know why? Do you know why Hijab is such a difficult thing? Because it simply is temporary. Yes. Take your time and think about this. Islam as a system assumes that the big part of a woman’s time is actually spent indoors, not outdoors, and hence decreed Hijab in a way that is normally suited for a short, temporary period of time – like an emergency. It is also why even prayers, that men are mandated by religion to perform in mosques, are not an obligation when it comes to women, who are rather encouraged to pray indoors. So, if the most descent act, which is praying, should be indoors, then how about the rest of everything, really?

Many things would come to mind here. What about schools? What about education, work, shopping? What about outings and fun and dinner and coffee? What about all of that? Are you telling me that Islam wants to lock a woman in her house?

Here then comes the big picture, and a very important question. If the world now isn’t fulfilling a precondition of one of Islam’s teachings – do we give up the teaching, or do we wrestle the world?

Remember that in olden times all women used to spend most of their time and have most of their education indoors (read classic novels and you’ll see). According to English literature, a woman ought to learn poetry, read, learn music and all of that inside her house. It’s men who go ride horses and shoot stuff, not women. It’s worth mentioning that the dresses back then were actually very very modest, compared to nowadays fashionable Hijab – precisely because women didn’t spend that much time outdoors. Of course this could be a general statement, but you get the idea.

Part of why many women abandon Hijab is because they feel it’s too limiting, and the more close it is to Shaira, the more it kind of is. Most teachings of Islam rely on the existence of a certain moral and societal structure, and the real Jihad is this: how to maintain this structure and apply the teaching, rather than tweak its application and adhere to a flawed status quo.

So, my sister, the first step towards protecting your Hijab, is fulfilling its preconditions. Let me know how you think of these.

Waiting for your reply,

ibhog,

Butterfly

When you change, it’d better be because of something, rather than for someone. In all kinds of relationships there’s influence, and this usually becomes ground for resentment later, rightfully so, most of the time.

From my humble experience in life, I wouldn’t say that changing for someone is a bad thing in its entirety, but the benignant portion of that could always fall under a bigger institution; like friendship, marriage, parenthood or general care giving, responsibility and protection. If such an institution of human coexistence isn’t already manifest, then changing for one of the parties involved is usually a bad thing. If it’s there however, then even drastic changes are usually okay.

A piece of advice from someone who suffered a whole a lot in that department: search for that something, not that someone, and change because of it, rather than for them. Be ready for it, not them, so that if they disappear, you wouldn’t relapse! On a grand scheme, this would help you govern your life in such a wiser, independent way. Sacrificing for a single parent should always mean you have it in you to go the very miles for another, or even for an elderly person. It’s about the idea, not the persons involved.

This usually shows signs of pain when it comes to men and women, and marriage. I for one had made the mistake before of either changing for the wrong reasons, or asking others to change for me, while it was all after a bad turn; namely: no one valued the institution itself, the idea of it, as much as they valued themselves, so they never got ready for it, before they got ready for each other. It’s a very fine line, but it’s there. Like an umbrella. I think that’s why in religion marriage is such a sacred bond, it’s like a third party in the relationship that has its own rights, you know?

There’s something else I experienced, and I don’t know if it’s the case with everyone, but usually when I’m given the impression that I’m asking too much of someone, then it usually is a very strong sign we’re not right (or ready) either for each other, or for marriage in the first place.

A butterfly’s metamorphosis is a process that owes nothing to no one. The caterpillar doesn’t grow wings so that it could fly with another butterfly, but so that it could just fly, like the butterfly it’s meant to be. Of course, it could happen that she’d be wed to another, and then they can change each other in their ever-after all they want, but certainly not before.

Some things you ought to do on your own, preferably for God’s sake onlyLet go of that waiting, and be ready.

just fly,

Never let me go..

As a writer would relate, sometimes the intended piece is star like and once reality touches it it dwindles, stumbles and falls down in the middle of some deserted land. It would only shine again to a passer by who’d have the courtesy to prod into its meaning. Other than that, it is forever lost.

The pain these days is so powerful it is so mute and breathless and naked. I don’t want to write a lengthy post, I only wish to tell you about something I felt yesterday when I finished a book and was watching the movie that’s made after it.

The book is titled Never Let Me Go – a horrible, heartbreaking piece of art that had the kind of ending that’s too realistic it isn’t fiction anymore. I put the novel away and started watching the movie when I started to trace the oddest feeling in me; one I’ve rarely encountered before and I couldn’t finish the movie. A scene came up which I knew would be loaded with emotion from the book, and I found my hand unconsciously flying to my notebook and closing it. The thing is, I was looking forward to the movie. One of the characters, the main one, was really beautiful, and that is usually my favorite setting. I am not talking about physical beauty per se, my definition of beauty usually goes beyond that – that’s why I said ‘characters’, not actors.

In a workout session when you’re running on a treadmill and your legs start to ache and your lungs start to heave, you keep persevering until your hand just decides by itself to click  the ‘stop’ button. This is similar to what happened with the movie. An organ somewhere in me probably responsible for the function of feeling was overused and aching, so it had to signal an alarm for my hand to just stop everything.

And man do I feel like that all the time nowadays. I attribute my headaches, stomach and chest pains to it. My body is telling me that I’m thinking and feeling too much, beyond my capacity, and that I ought to stop, to just stop. It feels like I’m standing on a ledge, and below lies a very steep path that leads into a very dark abyss and every time I so much as only dangle my feet, a shot of pain would originate somewhere and yank me back to my senses.

Also, I rarely weep in movies. Another symptom of the aforementioned predicament is that sometimes my feelings overflow in a very feminine manner; if a movie has a hospital somewhere in it, death, cancer, or loss, it makes me weep. Contrary to what I thought, weeping doesn’t make you feel better in the least. Maybe it does for women, but when a man weeps, it’s too destructive sometimes.

I don’t know what’s happening, but life has been taking it to the next level with me lately. Maybe God is testing me. Maybe He’s preparing me for something. Maybe I just have too much sins to just live like normal people.

never_let_me_go_m

There was this moment at the hospital after dad’s first heart operation last week. We had just finished our visit and were leaving him to the beeping sounds of the ICU, when during a conversation I was having with one of the doctors, the beeping suddenly shot off, and a new alarm tone started to go out. I cut the conversation with the doctor, I was a bit taken aback but wasn’t scared – from experience, I knew that this is probably because one of the sensors was dislocated when dad moved from one side to the other, and the male nurse very naturally came over and switched it off. It was all okay.

What wasn’t okay were dad’s eyes. He didn’t know that it was okay, although he was himself alright. It was a bit scary to him. And then during those two seconds when I walked to his bedstead, right before the nurse came in and shut down that horrible beeper, I saw a rainbow of emotions in those eyes. They were concerned, but very stolid, they even sparkled with defiance, but under all of that I could discern, with that accursed capability of mine, his helplessness. It was extremely imperceptible, but I saw it, in my own father, and suddenly I felt like I shouldn’t have seen that, that somehow it should have been the other way around; as a son, I’m used to being comforted by him when I’m afraid. But that moment, that fleeting moment, my dad experienced fear, and something in me cracked.

And I don’t think it’ll ever mend.

Never let go, dad. Never let me go.

please,

It’s Okay

I wrote this in 2011 with the very ink of my heart, and couldn’t but relate to it, and need it, these days, with the whole of my existence.

Written by that fictional one who doesn’t seem to want to show up in my life.

To me, to you, and to everyone,

Dear Ibhog,

I know you’re different. You’re a mess. From that window of you to that life you think you see, you regard what’s not really there. In your literal mind, and big heart, you take too much in, and let too less out. You’re my own swollen love. Would you listen to me?

It’s okay if someone changes the way they think about you, Ibraheem. Even though you’re that sensitive to those who surround you, and even though you’re not supposed to read them that much, but it’s okay, because you do it too. And it’s okay, because when you do it, it doesn’t turn into hate. It can be many things in fact, ibhog. One of them is that you’ve become home enough for them to change moods.

And even if, my weary friend, you’ve been hated by anyone, then what? Don’t you know that it makes you more special to us who love you? Don’t you know of the great who were cast in the hatred of this wretched world? And who were rejected by all that spoke? Where are they now, Ibraheem? Where are they now?

It’s okay to seek compassion in others. It’s not pathetic, and it’s not weakness. You have a sad past. Destiny has denied you some love, days during which you’ve become stronger, times when your heart learned that art of giving, and when your soul knew about the language of feelings, and poor you, you hit that time when you needed it. The world understands. You don’t have to explain. There are many beautiful hearts out there, just like yours. Go to them. They await.

It’s okay to be different, and it’s okay to be just like anyone else at times. No one can endure either on its own. It’s okay to express that beauty drives you, and it’s okay to shed a tear when it leaves you. It’s okay to be angry at those who forget about you, and it’s okay to forgive them when they remember you. It’s not black and white, dear ibhog. It’s a colorful world. Nothing is constant, and nothing should be so. Any moment, everything can change. You don’t have to fathom it, and you don’t have to conjure it yourself. All you have to do, Ibraheem, is to be at peace with how the world walks.

It’s okay to tell someone about it. It’s also okay to give them up for silence, if it makes your pillow warmer at night. It’s okay to miss someone who doesn’t know. It’s human. And it’s beautiful to make them know that you do. If they judge you, it’s okay. They have to do it sometimes, just like you do. After all, do you not know of the ones whose judgment threw them in love? do you not know of the ones who came to care for those they hurt?

It’s okay to be not okay and be sad about it. It’s okay to feel insignificant. One’s low to one’s high tomorrow is their high to their low yesterday. If only they befriended time? they would have lived in peace. It’s okay to be away at times, and it’s okay to be there all the time. It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to feel bad about them. It’s okay to repeat them. God said it is. He’s a better judge.

Oh, my love how much I wish I was real enough for all of your worries. I just wish I could mother that troubled heart of yours, I wish I could be there when you’re alone with that mind of yours. I rescue you from you. I be there between your heart and you. I pat your pink wound, and tap your scars, with the cotton of my own lips. I know you need it too.

Fret not, my friend, for here I am in your realm of consciousness. I thank you for you, by being there for you.

Taking care of you ..

And it’s okay ..

Niqab

One of my sisters went to the mosque one Ramadan night and returned wearing Niqab. I asked her what happened; she told me someone was actually giving away Niqab and other sorts of scarves in the mosque and she tried one on. Once on, she says, the sister told me now I can’t take it off anymore. Very candidly, she didn’t, and since then she never even considered taking it off. You hear some of the best stories on that subject, btw.

This Niqab thing is one of the most curious aspects of our religion; how can covering one’s face be attributed to modesty? Some sects in Islam believe it’s a mandate, while others claim that it isn’t even part of religion as they conceive it. Scholars differ in this, but they don’t in the fact that the Prophet’s wives and the companions’ wives as well wore it. I spot Niqabis, of whom are my sisters and most of the women in my family, and some situations not only strike me with a sense of wonder, but sometimes with sheer coolness. My sister eats Sushi with her Niqab on like a boss, and from a merely practical point of view, it makes me laugh, because you know with those eating sticks and all, it’s just funny in a sort.

My Mom back in the seventies were from the very first women to ever wear Niqab in her college, and she used to tell us about the sorts of oral harassment she used to experience from some people in the university at the time. Maybe the thing about Niqab is that it really does change one’s lifestyle? I probed my sisters more than once into the question of what was so special about it, how they feel, and all those things, and they’d respond with remarks that all revolve around confidence, protection, charisma, modesty, and being special. Maybe I wouldn’t notice it much because I’m very used to it, especially since I grew up amongst its wearers. They already started to bring up the subject with my youngest sister, who doesn’t wear it now.

Anyway, I came across this today, which brings me back to the ‘coolness’ aspect again:

Wearing the niqab comes with a really beautiful feeling, but truth be told sometimes it can be a bit difficult to find support and encouragement in your decision to wear the niqab.

We’ve probably all experienced ‘rainy niqab days’. You know the days when you feel like the whole world is against your decision to wear the niqab, and positivity seems to be far from sight… Yep we’ve all been there.

Insha’Allah through niqabie.com we hope to motivate & encourage each other to remain positive and keep growing in eeman each and every day.

The best part is, niqabie is run by sisters just like you!

This is very cool, and I really liked the website, especially that some of the sister writers live in the west, in non-Muslim countries in the first place, which means wearing Niqab was a tougher choice than around here.

Give them a click. The web really needs this sort of diversity.

Umm, one last thing, would you pray for my headaches to go away?

Thanks.