Today is Eid - a celebration that requires fancy dress, delicious food, and glad tidings. A chance to love, to pile it on, to honor and to ask for forgiveness. And yet, I am neither fully faithful nor fully forgivable but I am trying anyway.
We who are imperfect, we who watch in grief and sadness on the infinite ways humans find to harm each other. Especially now, in the stealing of land, in the headlines mourning the collective dead, in the hunger and the loss. In the darkness of this all, I am finally coming to the center of this wound.
Religion was something that was placed upon me, like a piece of ill fitting clothing that manages to itch and scratch and bite all at the same time. It was made worse because of the Desi patriarchical expectations associated with being a Pakistani woman.
...and yet I believed anyway, I would spend hours praying to Allah (swt), for the angels on my shoulders who would hear my whispers issued at the end of prayer.
I kept trying only to find that this ill-fitting garment was not where I would find my connection with God. Perhaps religion is like a spiral, where you walk away only to be coiled back in. Where you feel the rope tug at the core of your belly, a kind of reawakening, where you find God in the flight of a cardinal’s path, it’s red wings reminding you that you and your heart are also allowed to fly.
I am re-reading the Koran for the first time in a very long time. I did not finish during Ramadan, but I will continue anyway. I am reading this with a friend, one who has also wanted to reflect and discuss this Holy Book. I pause over the Arabic, struggling to sound out some of the more complicated verses and then settle into the poetry of its flow. There is a magic to this and it is beautiful. I read the English translation, something that I was not encouraged to do as a child, and find humor and grace and patience in a book that has been misinterpreted and misused for so long.
A memory comes to me unbidden but still present in its harm - my father tells me sternly that if I did not pray the night prayer, the devil would come and urinate into my ears. Perhaps he meant this as a metaphor, I do not know. Being a scientific child, I would fall asleep with the pillow pressed to my ear and check for Devil Piss each morning. When informed of my scientific process, my father called it sinful to question his authority.
I knew then that I would have to walk away from this, from his interpretation that gave him power and made me powerless, because asking questions should never be a limiting factor for spiritual growth.
I think time does not work in the way we conceive. There are moments where we grow, and there are moments where we contract, where we yield, where we curl into something small to make the hurt sting a little less.
I think love makes time malleable. it takes multiple forms. A small learning - the best kind of love is the kind that changes over time. It strengthens, it wavers. Sometimes it sails by and yet the imprint of it remains, the scent of it indelibly etched into the core of us.
And so, many years later I am finding my own way, carving my own path spiritually and beyond. I don’t know what these questions will hold, I don’t know what truths they might re-discover but what I do know is that I will love dearly, I will love radically, I will love fiercely in the work that is required to find the child whispering to angels again. I will walk this path that seeks to learn and grow, that finds grace in kindness to self and others.
And this too will take time. And this too will be a celebration.
To the reader:
May you be blessed today and always