On loving Allah
by Sanna Wani
Allah grew up an orphan. Space was a lofty sea and Allah fell asleep on a spinning disk then woke up inside a star, hands already busy, hands already turning hydrogen to hexagons. Allah lives inside a quark. Tiny, and tampering with the incessant ticking, pulling on a pair of reading glasses because Their eyes get tired of looking at the small things too. Allah picked a spot to stand steady in the darkness They balanced out the bend of orbits, for your sake and for mine, and that’s some kind of loyalty, isn’t it?
Allah lingers. Next to me on a bus at 7 pm, then smoking a cigarette under the willow trees, when there is nothing in the sky but thunder. Allah never stops dancing, never stops spinning, never stops laughing when they are drunk, with movement or other fizzy drinks, says it might be the only real passion They have. I asked Them once Is your universe expanding? and They answered hastily I’m searching for Something More — please don’t worry, I’m just flushing out my father. Allah wants to spread Their Hands so far apart wings sprout from Their cracked nails
Allah has a hard time touching anything that isn’t Their Infinite Self. So the burns that ache are sometimes by accident, but not always. Allah is not lonely obviously. Allah is not lonely, how can you ask that? Allah is the only thing inherent to anything — the only core to stand on — how could you ask if They were —
Oh. Allah hid this from me never lied, but omission is a talent and my empathy has always been an inconvenience. Allah has never found a parent. No, never learned a name other than Their own, has been pressing on the lines trying to undo time but time was a little god of her own. A begetter of wilds horses and even my Allah couldn’t tame her.
I wonder what became of my Allah, after that one time They came to me in a dream and whispered, Are you me or am I you?
This piece is most outwardly a reflection on the fragmented relationship between Allah and humans using anthropomorphic and Sufi imagery. However, deeply central to the piece is the nuanced romantic and sexual relationship between Allah and the Devotee. I grew up in a (Rishi) Sufi household and this is how I imagined that relationship to be: a conflation of love and self that eventually gives way to everything in the universe.
I feel, as I grow in spirituality, age, and perspective, that my relationship with Allah develops more and more as one would with a queerplatonic partner: something deeper than what the simple label of ‘friend’ or even ‘best friend’ can convey. A queerplatonic partner, to me, means a love just as tangible, important, and alive as romantic or sexual love, though these loves are not necessarily mutually exclusive and all live on the asexuality spectrum, which leads often to a life-partnership. I also chose to use a gender-neutral/non-binary pronoun for Allah, as in Islam, Allah does not live as a human or even as a living being, but as an all-encompassing beam of light. So applying a masculine pronoun or even a feminine pronoun felt like an exercise in futility: perhaps no pronoun would be most appropriate but I felt most comfortable with the capitalized They/Them.
This poem develops as a dialogue and a confession for my love to this partner. It is my best grab at understanding Allah as only I can, as my identities converge as a Kashmiri diasporic, Canadian settler university student. This poem is important to me because freed me from a lot of shame and guilt: I felt a hubris, internally, for thinking that I could transform Allah rather than only let Allah transform me. This poem helped transform those fears and see prayer as mutual transformation and hold on to my right to see my Allah as mine, just as I am Theirs.
The final stanza is the most important to me because, as is aforementioned, Sufism is dominated by this idea that humanity is only a microcosmic reflection and all that is everything only reflects back only to Allah. Oftentimes in account of Sufi mystics reaching enlightenment, Sufis would see their own reflections, in a mirror or a body of water, and claim they could only see Allah. They were unable to distinguish between their self and Allah. As an undercurrent to the entire poem, I wanted to turn that tide backward. As verging on heretical as it might be, I wanted to show a moment where Allah perceives humans that way, offsetting the typical Sufi narrative and filling in a piece of the puzzle that I always felt missing or unspoken: if Allah is everything to us, then maybe we must be everything to Allah. Or, if not, then must They not feel unbearably alone?