tramplings in The Masjid
Soft jade fibers carpeted the mausoleum,
jasmine, moringa, lavender
planted in the shade of our faith,
the Saudis split us up by nationality,
black niqab with black abaya,
sequined khimar over emerald dress,
all white, cloth around necks, down
to porous ankles, palm tree wrists,
lifting only an index finger,
violent curls tightly-wrapped in packages
of all-encompassing, thorough modesty,
they sectioned us off—
Arab, Turkish, Persian, Indonesian, Malaysian, South Asian
the others had to decipher flowing tongues
of wispy, yet intimidating women
directing us in, we waited
behind the first marble pillar
where the men prayed,
past the wooden arabesques, then
at the foot of the gate,
heavy gold concealing where he rested,
a celebrity to some
they kissed the brass radiators by his tomb,
slapping their faces, wailing
through accusations of blasphemy,
a Prophet to others,
they spoke their salams and prayed for him
After four hours of bent knees against carpeting,
bony fingers of an impatient sister
furrowing into my shoulders, compacting me
into Madina’s earth— “Too tall, sister!”
I was blocking the divine view,
our turn came, the Arabs,
some said “bismIllah”, standing up
as one should in the lotus-umbrella’d home
of the Prophet
others rose with fervor
and the violence of the Jahiliyya,
trampling tranquil prayers,
stepping on my mother’s head
prostrating, nose against the green,
fingers, knees in undesirable crimson.
I rushed through my verses
that illustrated the cruelty of man,
I rushed, but carefully enunciated every word
begging for the violence to end.
How will the bloodshed outside cease
if some can show aggression
in front of the golden graves?
Women have been killed
under stampeding hypocrites,
who can’t even feign peace
on the most sacred of land.
You couldn’t imagine how difficult it is to properly articulate the feeling of being in Mecca.
Before stepping into the circle
of tightly packed men in Ihram reflecting the Sun
women in black shrouding their sensuality,
If He hadn’t have forgiven me
why would He let me into His home?
perhaps I wasn’t such a disappointment
careful golden calligraphy gleamed
high over my head, entitled
we all squinted through the tears
to read His own words
and whisper our sincerest thank yous
I paid no heed to the warnings
of aggressive inclinations in the Masjid:
“They’ll steal your shoes,
shove you out of their way,
step on your head
while you’re prostrating”
and as I had expected,
no one was violent
no one was selfish,
too fixated on what was resting
over their left shoulder
to be anything
but peaceful, patient
The men they said would grope me
apologized profusely for grazing
against my arm while the crowds shifted
making way for sallow women in wheelchairs
trying to fulfill the second requirement
of walking with millions of people
they have never heard of
I have traveled too many times to count,
yet never felt equality
until I had my trembling hands on the Kaaba
weeping next to an elderly woman
and a young man
each of us praying
in the same breath
I had never felt small
until I looked up to estimate
the height of what Abraham built
I had never felt privileged
until I pulled a sister
to take my place and rest her head
on the musk-scented inscriptions
I had never felt the extent of my neglect
until I watched a father shake,
heaving repentances towards the Qiblah
in my own Arabic tongue
I can only speak two languages
but I understood every word whispered
into the cupped hands
of those I walked with,
they were all asking
for the same thing I sought,
they were all weak
just like me,
I have moved too many times to count,
yet I had never felt
so at home.
During the seven times,
I never saw His face or heard His voice,
but I had never been so sure
of His existence,
I was certain—
in the breaths of the infant
sleeping in her mother’s chest
despite the millions chanting His name
in the knees
of the 90 year old Turkish woman
who walked for hours
just to visit Him
in the tears of my father
who never broke
for anyone in his life
between the crowds
that suddenly parted
so I could touch my forehead
to the Kaaba
He was there
and I felt him
Birds of Mecca
Their melodious awakening
a herald to our own
preceding the booming Call
that floated ethereal
through the hotel windows
tugging an eager Sun
over the mountainous horizon
they added their voice
to the harmonies
humming tinny hymns
over the heads
of the poor on Earth,
yet wealthy in the Hereafter
elated they flew, swooping
while night paid heed
to pale day
they grew louder
as the circle swelled
the revolutions steadied
flapping with the carefree vigor
of a rising Sun
they chirped above the tune
of memorized supplications,
than our bare feet could carry us
around the eternal Kaaba
yet they fell silent
before our heads
could touch the groud—
prostrating with the humbled millions
then saying their salams
Umrah Series coming soon. I have no words and too many at the same time.
Anonymous asked: Could you do it for my mom? She's in a pretty bad place right now, and there's not much I can do about it. I just want her to be alright. Thank you.
May Allah bless her and remove her from her turmoil. I wish you and your family the best. Stay strong. InshaAllah everything will get better. I’ll definitely pray for her and your family. Take care of yourself.
God, I love you guys with all my heart.
I’m going to perform umrah tomorrow, inshaAllah.
I was wondering if anyone wanted me to make any specific dua for them while I’m there? If, God forbid, you have a sick relative or you need to pass an exam or hope to be forgiven for something, please let me know. Answer here or message me in private, please. I’d sincerely love to do this for as many people as possible.
I hate mobile devices and I hate my huge fingers. After I posted Rania, I went and accidentally deleted. Ugh.
Rania’s Only Friend
Please no re-blogs.
Safia took her hijab off a few months ago. Ever since that day, she’s been gradually progressing deeper and deeper into the stages of idiocy. Rania made sure to emphasize the fact that her friend wasn’t idiotic because she took her hijab off. No, Rania sensed her friend’s latent idiocy long before she decided to stop wearing her headscarf. It’s as if Safia had been waiting for years to reveal the idiocy lurking deep within her. Something strange happened to Safia after the day she dumped her hijab. It’s as if she had started crafting herself a new identity by taking quirks and traits from the disillusioned friends she had suddenly latched onto. Perhaps because the restrictions hijab placed upon her were no longer relevant, she finally had a chance to try on a new persona everyday, personas that would’ve otherwise clashed with her previous lifestyle. She was having a blast.
Rania knew a ton of girls who decided that the hijab was no longer right for them. They spent months deliberating over whether or not they were going to go through with taking it off. Even when they went ahead with the decision, they never did any of the dumb shit that Safia pulled. They all remained the same individuals they were back when they were muhajabat. They maintained the same identity and inclinations, only now you could see their hair. The difference between those girls and Safia, is that they had always known who they were. Safia never had a clue.
Safia started imitating others out of the blue. Rania wasn’t one to accuse anyone of being fake, but she knew Safia much too well to classify her new persona as being sincerely her own. Safia’s first line of business was to discard her silver metal frames and replace them with gigantic plastic Ray-Bans that swallowed her petit face in their abyss of unoriginality. After the glasses game on, the term “collective consciousness” suddenly appeared in every single statement she made as if it was some sort of default behavior attached to wearing those glasses. Even when the term didn’t quite fit in the context, she would force it upon a statement just for kicks. For example, when rallying up her friends to go for Egyptian rice pudding instead of gelato, you could be sure she was bound to get on her soapbox of cultural preservation.
“If you guys go for gelato or ice cream, you’re allowing our culture to slowly die off! We need to work as a collective consciousness to keep the rice pudding joints in business!”
Rania had enough of this newly-adopted, ready-made socialist persona that her friend had slipped into like a pair of mass-produced pants. She went from watching Arab Idol one night to boycotting it the next morning, replacing her Friday and Saturday “primes” with obscure French films and sessions of Nouvelle Vague and Japanese psychedelia.
“What’s wrong with the cigarettes I smoke?” She said, running her fingers through her freshly cut pixie do. “Do you think they’re more toxic than the air we breathe in this wretched city?” To Safia, Alexandria was always either parochial and pathetic or subjugated and delicate. She didn’t really know how she felt because her philosophy towards the nation as a whole was simply regurgitated verbatim. “I mean, just walking by the sewer we call the Mediterranean is like sucking from the tailpipe of a ’73 Fiat, for nature’s sake,” God’s name had slowly escaped from her daily diction and was replaced with a quasi-humanist rhetoric that didn’t make sense, either.
Rania watched her as she pulled out a pea green Moleskine to find the number of the studio they were trying to locate.
“Maybe it shut down,” Rania yawned. She wanted to go home.
“No! It’s the best studio in all of Alex! It’s printing is phenomenal, I tell you,” Rania was about to make a snap inquiry about how exactly Safia knew this supposed fact, considering her friend had never even been there. Rania decided to keep her mouth shut instead.
“I’m tired anyway,” Rania said as she watched her friend languidly puff on an L&M.
“I guess you’re right. Let’s go to the coffee shop,’ Rania rolled her eyes. Recently, her friend had been forcing her to tag along to all-men’s cafes. Safia said it was a way to “protest misogyny deeply-engrained in Egyptian culture”. Rania went with her a few times. Her non-confrontational approach was always getting her into situations she loathed.
The first time they ventured into the dauntingly sexist terrain of all-men cafes, a particularly sallow, wispy bearded sailor-looking fellow pulled up a chair next to Rania and with sleazy sex offender eyes, tried to get her to join him in a game of “backgammon”. He puffed watermelon flavoured shisha smoke in her face and wiggled his eyebrows like a first rate greaseball. Rania didn’t know if “backgammon” was some sort of innuendo or if he really did want to challenge her to a board or two. Either way, his hands were practically on her thighs the entire time. So, euphemism or not, he was a downright pig.
One man decided to play the role of the café’s mobile DJ and started blaring suggestive regional songs about eating freshly-picked fruit in the wee hours of the night. He held his shrill Ericsson up to the two girls and without speaking a word, dared them to silence him. Safia deluded herself by acting as if nothing was going on, pretending to read a column in the newspaper about the fantastical terrors of riding an Egyptian train.
“Let’s go to Carlos Café or Costa, or something. I’m not going to Zaghloul Basha’s again with you. I’m not in the mood to crusade against misogyny,”
“Ugh, tres blasé,” Safia replied, languidly flicking her cigarette into the street.
Rania raised her eyebrows, “What?”.