To (Not) be a Valentine
by Eren Cervantes-Altamirano
I am not a “valentine.” The original St. Valentine would be terrified of my invariable womanhood, my revolutionary Indigeneity and my chosen Muslimness. He would have judged me harshly, perhaps even condemned me to endless pain and suffering, because of my “heresy.”
So there is no need to tell me “be mine.” I am no one’s except Allah’s. And there is no need to say “You are one of a kind” for I know that God has made us whole, diverse and beautiful so that we may know one another. And let’s skip the “kiss me” for the only true meaningful kiss is that of sujud; there is no stronger connection than that between Allah, you and the land.
I would rather erase the “hottie” label because for that to exist the women of my nation, and the northern sisters, have been constantly abused and marginalized. And do not ask me to “smile” because the “sexy” has been too whitewashed with stereotypes of ivory-looking women, who still use carpets made out black, Indigenous and brown sisters’ blood. So there is no “eat me,” because no woman of colour should have to surrender her desires to the neoliberal patriarchs that speak of “rights.”
But do not think that the threats of “haramness” labeling my desire for love and intimacy will derail my path. Long beards, thobes and Qur’ans in hand have no place in a woman’s choices. They have no room in my desire, for Allah has called the objects of my cravings “half the deen,” and unlike mistaken assumptions, the halves (thirds and fourths) are more than legalistic economic contracts. Halves do not spell love in red or in the form of heart-shaped candy and flowers on my doorstep, they are spiritual companions and cosmic soulmates.
And do not say “I have a crush on you” for I always know those who “recreationally” crush on me. I have also been drunk with the same feeling…with the rush of such an attraction and attention that have no more destiny than a quick and steep end awaiting for them. Thus, do not ask “melt my ❤” because I have no interest on melting what makes you who you are, and in taking away a piece of your own vulnerability.
Be aware of promising “totally yours” for I have no capitalist intentions to own the product of your emotional labour or the surplus of your own experiences. Likewise, do not ask “love me…” Love is not a responsibility or a duty; but it is rather a commitment. It is a spoken silence filled with meaning.
The “together forever” will constantly be crushed by deception since it is the divine that controls time and space, and it gives and takes as it pleases and leaves us reciting “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.” So do not promise “eternal love” because I have no eternity to offer. Be here. Be now.
There may be a “You & Me,” but unless there is effort and truth to it, it is no more than particles of faraway love. And there is no “marry me” unless you know that no “XOXO” can substitute the stepping blocks of you knowing who you are and recognizing your own privilege. So my love for you is a kiss in the forehead for strength and a push towards the wisdom that will start a transformation.
So “be true” and “be real” because you shall be you and I shall be me, and we will only truly know each other through jihad. Not the kind that kills innocents in the name of anti-imperialist resistance. Not the kind that polices women’s bodies and forbids third-gender love. Not the kind that that prosecutes me for my colour, my religion and my mere existence. Not the kind that erases your art, your pain and your despair… but the one that starts a revolution.
About the Author:
Eren Cervantes-Altamirano is a Binnizá-Mexican convert to Islam. She is trying really hard to finish the MA dissertation focusing on policies addressing sexual violence in development programming in the Third World. Eren’s blogIdentity Crisis focuses on her multiple identities and her attempts to reconcile them when they are at odds with each other. She currently also blogs atMuslimah Media Watch and Love InshAllah. When she is not writing, Eren can be found baking, traveling, chilling with her cat Sugar and trying to figure out dating, love and relationships. Follow her at @ErenArruna.