Every time I feel the stirrings of my perceived woke-ness nudging my head up to the clouds, I like to remind myself that I too once pronounced Edward Said as Edward Sed.

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Arabic is great

In Arabic the words for Believer and Atheist are simple one-word terms. Mu’min and Mulhid. Even Apostate is fairly simple, Murtad. But as is consistent with the confusion of agnosticism, the glorified term for “uncertain” is, uncertain.

And hilarious.

You have the more technical term, the noun, معتنق اللاأدريّة, Mu’taniq al-la-adriyyah. This implies an adherence to uncertainty, or not knowing. But the adjective is لا أدريّ, la-adriyyah. Which literally translates to “I don’t know-er,” which I think is very apt. Instead of resorting to faux-intellectual explanations for my complicated relationship with religion, I will henceforth refer to myself as an “I don’t know-er”

Yes. I am comfortable with this.

To Unpick the Stitches of Faith

I know that much of my unwillingness to completely detangle myself from Islam is due to my family, but that doesn’t mean that regardless of these ties I would be willing to disengage and go full-murtad.

Unfortunately Islam has settled in my bones. It has repaired me, many a time, and to rip out the stitches of faith is not a smooth nor swift procedure.

Desperation is eating thoroughly burnt golden-syrup-ed porridge oats – which cannot be called flapjacks because that would be blasphemous – because you don’t have enough butter to make a new batch and your laziness means walking ten minutes to the nearest shop, is absolutely out of question.

With the Qur’an there is comfort. The elegant flow of words is cathartic. Reciting brings a wave of very welcome serenity.

I remember how the concept of Allah being al-Latif, the Subtle, was beautiful to me. There was no need for grand gestures: an angel at my window, or even an inspirational dream or two. Islam was a lived thing to me. Not fleeting emotions, nor cosmic interruptions, but steady certainty. I could place the contentment that came with recitation down to divine sources. But now, I’m not so sure if this tranquility is mere nostalgia or something more concrete.

Learning a language in all its facets is an exercise in humility. It is beyond frustrating that the same Arabic which slides of my tongue effortlessly does not allow me to articulate myself adequately. Fluency alludes me – with my attempts to internalise different literary conventions, my stumbling over syntax and the disregard for my love affair with commas. Studying Arabic has made me realise how much I love English. The faculty of expression is liberating.