When I inevitably fall apart
Like predictable clockwork and collapse
into the same despaired state—dulled face and torrential tears as I become deaf and blind to all but my own fears—when I slip and sin and then crack under the
Guilt of it—when I sin and then sink into a fetal position that slowly but surely always turns into
When I continue to falter, again and again,
Only to breathe unevenly and wreathe myself in prayers by the end
Of numerous cycles all tainted by the same fight
Between what I wanted and what I knew was right—
Will you continue to love me, even then? I don’t think you have it in you, not if you’re human.
I no longer look for acceptance among those of flesh and bone—they could never understand and know the ravaged-worn-torn-soles of my soul; they don’t know my atomic intricacies or tangled knots or jagged vertices; every person in my life only sees but a kaleidoscopic sliver of me—they love a part of me but are apart from me, they claim to hold and cherish me whole yet disregard my deep dark holes for I am porous yet filled to the brim with unease and anxiety, stripped of tenacity yet burning with audacity, corked like a bottle and bottled like the ocean I am for I am as much a deluge as I am a tempest, an emotional storm of words to be reckoned with—I am a completely senseless stream
Of consciousness—no, I cannot say that other people can truly know me or love me when I get lost in myself every day—the only one who could possibly love me throughout everything must be the One who made me this way—
Allah loves me
Past the confines
Of human impatience and human rhyme;
Allah is the Most Merciful and the
Allah is the Most Forgiving—do not undersell the power
Of your grievous sincerity or repeated repentance—Allah loves his people and he will not leave them restless
Allah loves his people and makes their struggles neither worthless nor endless
It is upon Allah you must trust and rely, for
He will give you much
And you must be satisfied.
—be not ungrateful when you have been given much, Allah made you in the best of form and Allah made you to be loved
I originally wrote this piece over the summer. In honor of Ramadan, I have brought it out of my archives because it is one of the most sincere, earnest pieces I have ever written about my religion. As a practicing Muslim, Islam is a pivotal part of my identity.
I love my religion, but over the years I have accepted that faith is not linear. Humans are flawed. Slipping and falling is as much a part of the process as is finding the strength to rise again. This poem is the byproduct of that exact cycle, through which I trip and traipse in equal measure. God finds grace even in our gracelessness if it comes from grievous sincerity, and He does not expect perfection. It can be easy to forget what one has when one fixates on what has been lost. In writing the end of this poem, I wanted to remind myself of the importance of gratitude, too. To be grateful for what I have been given, but also to be grateful for the way I have been made, because, despite my pitfalls and insecurities, Allah made me, and Allah does not make mistakes. He placed goodness in all of us, for all of us. Ramadan is a time of reset and renewal for Muslims. It’s a month of reflection, contemplation, and worship. Ramadan is a month for the pious, yes, but it is also for the wanderers, the questioners, the lost. It is a chance to find Allah again through prostration.
Because this is a poem about Islamic faith, it contains potent allusions to multiple Quranic verses. However, I really want this piece to resonate in some way even with those who do not share my religious beliefs. So, to add an element of universality, I say this: often, people can only love each other imperfectly. Be patient and give grace even to those who do not treat you in the best way, because sometimes it is simply the best they can manage. You will be loved in the way you deserve without even having to ask for it one day — this is a wish from me to you.
~ Maaheen Shaikh `25