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.

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I wrote the following poem based on my belief that even the Abraham Mosque is colonized by Zionists. 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.

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