تستنفد اللغة العربية طاقتي
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.
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.
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.
في قلوبهم مرض فزادهم الله مرضا
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.
It is difficult to feel at ease when you carry around so many unresolved matters, and angst verging on anxiety is your default state. But gratefulness is always wholesome.
So as I sit, with this gorgeous view, stumped over how to best translate يتكتل I am thankful for this opportunity. I spend too much time and energy fretting over what will come next, at the expense of appreciating what I have now. So as to conclude this strange bout of positivity I will take some time to acknowledge the mother of all clichés, and try to hold on to taking a moment, to just be.
Maybe even utter a سبحان الله or two.
I have twenty drafts. Clearly I have a propensity towards unfinished thoughts.
I am great at the periphery. The edges of life, its fine-lined exterior. That is until you turn your gaze to what lies beyond the margins. I am the beautifully-neat borders of a picture on a colouring page. I stay in the lines, always. But the inside matter is in disarray, the essence a scribbled mess.