if i weep,
i can only hold onto grief,
and if i cry,
there’s no place for me,
and if i can’t forgive myself,
i don’t know how.
is it okay if i lose myself
in trying to recover who i really am?
is it okay if i am hard on myself
for not knowing all there is to know?
is it okay to give up on what i thought i wanted,
because i realized that i only want to be happy?
is it okay to stop eating,
because i still sob at the memories?
something foul lives in me,
and i stand quietly,
softly avoiding my former self.
has left me,
and i still have to come to terms with this grief,
with who i used to be,
with how i view myself through her eyes.
sometimes i feel like no one would understand,
the way i hurt myself in the process
of processing everything that has occurred.
i pray for everyone’s happiness,
for peace of mind,
for atika, karim,
colleen, youssef, rajae, zaynab,
for hanna, janie, julia, andrzej,
everyone else there is to know,
my mother, my remorse,
my abbu, his career, his family,
my phupal, her marriage, her children,
my amee, her health, her strength,
my brother, to take the path for which i am too weak to bear
my chachee, who lost her job,
for lara, her pain, her selflessness,
for the wars to end and for the people dying,
and then for myself,
for how i love and hate,
for my fear, for my loss,
for me to be someone renewed,
without that same feeling of emptiness,
if i don’t pray correctly, will i be forgiven?
i never knew a time
when i could ask for so much,
beg for something,
but i hardly say thank you,
hardly a moment,
if i don’t fast properly,
if i can’t remember surahs the way i memorize the minute details of the sky,
if i can’t keep myself from descending into that place.
i realize i’m too tough on myself,
but that doesn’t help it,
it doesn’t make the pit in my stomach disappear,
it doesn’t make me any less fearful,
of wrath, of pain, of having to survive the night,
what do i do to live peacefully?
to be the way i know i should be?
do i avoid all thoughts?
cry myself to sleep?
refuse to eat another day,
for i no longer feel hunger?
but i am human,
and it’s okay to break apart after seven years,
it’s okay to feel as if the world is ending,
every other day is another shooting,
every other day the tears flow,
like acid rainfall,
like darkness descending at maghrib,
tomorrow is a new day,
and God willing,
you will live again,
find that peace,
Author’s Note: This poem is about coming to terms and accepting myself as a Muslim and as a human being, realizing that I cannot know everything and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Over the past week, I’ve traveled around different cities in Morocco and learned things about myself more than I did about the country I’m staying in. I’ve learned that it’s okay to continue to grieve for my biological mother who passed away nearly seven years ago. I’ve also learned that it’s okay not to know everything, whether it be about language or religion, because no one can really know everything.
The people around me, Muslim and non-Muslim, have helped me to see this, but I still have self-doubts and I end up being hard on myself. For example, when I pray, I pray for all of the people in my life: my host family, my mentors, those on my study abroad program, my family, my friends, then myself. At times I feel bad because I feel as if I’m praying for too much and never thanking Allah enough for what I have. I have doubts about whether I’m a good Muslim, about whether I even pray or fast correctly. But by the end of all this, I realized that I’m a human and it’s okay to make mistakes, that Allah can forgive me, and that tomorrow is always a new day to make up for everything I lost before.