Cave of Patriarchs

The top photograph is one that I took in summer 2009 when I visited Hebron (my city of origin), Palestine. The draped structure in the photograph is believed to be the tomb of Abraham (peace be upon him).

Abraham, along with other Biblical figures (also mentioned in Islamic sources) such as Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and, Leah, were buried in a cave (named Cave of Patriarchs), with a structure built on top, that is now a mosque. The tombs are on the same floor as the mosque, but are situated based on the burial locations in the cave.

————————————————————————————————————————

I wrote the following poem based on my belief that even the Abraham Mosque is colonized. In 1967, Israeli settlers transformed a section of the mosque into a synagogue – it is generally off limits to Palestinians. There are military checkpoints that lead to the mosque; and its surroundings, including the mosque’s rooftop, are filled with armed Israeli soldiers. There is also a checkpoint inside the mosque’s entrance.

“Cave of Patriarchs”

That
of
my ancestors.

Can I call it paradise?

The tombs,
the
Cave of Patriarchs,
are
they hidden
treasures
of
paradise?

The scent
of
prophets
embody
the cave,
their souls
cannot
decay,
are their
burials
unspoken,
graves of paradise?

If but
they
could be,
yet colonizers
do not see.
They have
colonized
even these
treasures
of
paradise.
These graves of paradise.

These ancient,
ancestral,
treasures of paradise.

That
which I
cannot
call
my own
whilst it is
surrounded
by military
and desecrated
with
their eyes.

If
but those
prophets
and
their wives
can speak
from their
tombs,
from their
sacred cave,
that they
too
are colonized,
under occupation,
disturbed
from
their graves,
yet
shrouded in
paradise.

Yet
their paradise
has
not shielded
the
bloodshed
above
their graves.

Their
graves are
violated,
no longer
sacred.

That
is the
Cave of Patriarchs,
the
cave of my ancestors,
yet
I am
told
I
cannot claim.

To colonize
is
not only
to dispossess,
but also
the theft
of
identities
and
histories
and
claim
as your own.

That
is the
Cave of Patriarchs,
the
cave of my ancestors,
that
which I
cannot claim.

My Ink

“My Ink”

They ask why I write.

My poetry
is
but
emotions
spilled unto
paper.

My heart
is
the ink
of
my pen.

My words
are
based on
events
I can
not accept,
nor
do many
comprehend.

I am
a
river
of emotions.

I wonder
how
this river
fits
in
my chest.

It is
this
river
that soaks
papers
with words.

So long
as
my heart
beats,
there is
ink
for
my pen.

My Hijab

I wrote the following poem “My Hijab” based on harmful attitudes that both Muslim communities and mainstream Western societies perpetuate about the hijab (modest covering of the whole body except the face and hands), and about women that wear or do not wear it.

“My Hijab”

My hijab,
hijacked,
not seen
as a matter
between a
woman and God.

My hijab
is not a
symbol
of purity,
not a symbol
of divinity,
for behind
the hijab
remains a
child of Adam
that
also sins
before
God.

My hijab
is an act
of worship,
meant only
to please God.

You violate
God’s gift
when
you unjustly
monopolize
this
act of worship.

It is not
your right
to speak ill
of the women
that do
or
do not wear it,
or those
that
wear it “incorrectly”,
or those
that
remove it.

It is not
your right
to dictate
to me
whether
the hijab
is oppressive
or if
I am set free.

The hijab
is not
the only
act of worship.
Yet
you are either
amazed
or
filled with rage.

The hijab is mine.

It is God’s gift
to women only,
they can accept
or decline.

My hijab
is
not
for you
to scrutinize,
nor
expect me
to act saintly,
for my sins,
like yours,
can also
reach the sky.

My hijab
is not a
barrier
to emotions,
I feel
what you feel,
I see
what you see,
I am not
immune
to
human ecstasies.

Why claim
that
the hijab
elevates women
yet
compare them
to objects?
I am
worth more
than a
precious pearl,
for I am
human.

Or why claim
that
the hijab
is oppression
yet
shame women
that
meet not
your beauty
expectations?

My hijab
is not
your key
to denouncing
patriarchy.

Nor
is
my hijab
your right
to salvation
from your 
sexual temptations.

When I
testify
la ilaha illa llah,
it includes
my hijab
for
the sake
of God.

The hijab
is
but
a gift
I accepted
from God.

———————————————————————————————————————-

**La ilaha illa llah translates to “there is no other god but God”, which is the first of two testimonials of the Islamic creed “There is no other god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God” [La ilaha illa llah, wa Muhammadar-rasulu llah].