Language

Al Rihla = A quest, a journey

Ibn Al-Sabil = someone on a journey; lit. “son of the path”

Binti Al-Sabil = a term I made up; a girl on a journey

Salsabil = made up of two words: (1) to ask, to inquire about–sal; (2) path, way–sabil; (3) easy, sweet, flowing [as of water]–salsala…as if the word is saying, “Ask your Lord about the path towards sweet and flowing water.” The name of a fountain in Heaven. [Source: Project Root List]


Arabic is a beautiful, fluid, and complex language. I have always had a love of languages and a penchant for picking them up easily. I was bilingually fluent at the age of one and a half, and could read fluently by three and a half, and could write fluently by four. I am fairly interested in math and science too, but my obsession with language is unparalleled. My writing style is distinctive: florid and sometimes dreamily ornamental–yet biting. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“So praise be to your Lord, who taught by the Pen, taught mankind that which they knew not…” -Surah Al Alaq

The Quran is written in a human language, which is by nature a limited form of expression. We cannot reach God in a meaningful way any more than we can conceive of that which lies within our own minds. Our interpretation of Scripture is fundamentally shaped by who we are, and this is why it is so beautiful: The method we use to interpret Divine Scripture displays the state of our own souls. An upright fitrah and sincere inner reflection, as well as a genuine desire for the betterment of mankind, are necessary to understand Scripture correctly.

A beautiful mermaid once told me that God is a verb, not a noun. God’s attributes, of rahmah and justice and compassion and mercy, are expressed as nouns in human languages, but in reality they are verbs–aspects of being, aspects of doing. Être and faire.

I look at the sky sometimes and fall into a longing I can’t put into words. It is strange for me to suffer from a deficit of words. I almost always have words. If you leave me speechless, know that I am either hurt beyond belief by you, or else I love you enough to express it physically, without language.

This may be why I like Chopin. My piano teacher likes to lecture me on how much he missed his beautiful native country of Poland; she too is Polish, after all. Chopin’s songs are replete with longing. Fantasie Impromptu and Waltz 64/2 and Waltz 9/2 are filled with a longing that defies language; and where language fails, music fills the gaps. Starry night skies and the wide eyes of children have the same effect on me. I cannot. There are no words. I literally cannot.

The following sentiment is one that I have trouble expressing in words, but nonetheless I will try to convey it. You have nothing to fear. If you come to God with a pure heart, you have nothing to fear. Taqwa is awareness of God, not fear; the word for real fear in the Quran is different. It is khafa. Assume the best of God. Faith is optimistic, as a mermaid once told me, the cadence of her voice halting and haunting and lyrical. You cannot believe in God without believing in God’s attributes of compassion and justice. It is not God who desires subjugation and the destruction of human dignity. It is humans.

I have matured more than I can possibly express over the past few years. This is another sentiment that defies words. I have never had more clarity and purpose. I’m temperate now, and relatively gentle, until evil people anger me: Then Hell hath no fury like mine, and I’m proud of it. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I wonder who the girl staring back is, and on occasion I’m caught drowning in my own reflection.

Writing has brought me in contact with people I would never have known otherwise, people across oceans, people loved and lost. I will meet you one day. Some souls have a particular affinity for each other not just in this realm, but also in others.

I have been told that my aura is blue, hinting green at times and purple at others. I have always seen it as blue, but I wasn’t sure–originally–if it was an optical illusion. I used to be semi-frequently called an indigo child by adult acquaintances and friends of my parents, though I had no idea what it meant and I still barely do. I’m an INFP and my star sign is Cancer. Random information, but it makes me wonder if it’s truly a coincidence that I’ve met many people with the same characteristics (such as my jaan Nahida, who was my mother in some other life before this dunya), and we have shared a certain affinity that transcends worlds, realms. One of my favorite books is The Emperor of All Maladies; I’ve been told reading medical literature and loving it is not normal, but normal is overrated.

I am at times overtaken with a certain longing for realms I cannot reach and faraway places I cannot see, but I trust that I will see them, eventually. I am at once softly amused and achingly saddened by people who do not comprehend the reality of the Divine.

I have realized recently that no matter how random and meandering my writing is, I must never delete it. Religion is a course of transformations, and indeed there is beauty in transforming. But my essence is the same–as is my nature. Not everything is perfect but all of it is beautiful. And I will preserve it all.

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