I am alone.
Surrounded by friends and a community that should understand me
They know me as popular, confident, and happy – supposedly.
My sisters dress the same, look the same, and crack the same jokes as me.
Yet when I look their way, my reflection does not stare back at me.
Because beneath all the layers and the smiles and chatter,
I am different, when you reach the heart of the matter.
I am different and can’t figure out why.
After all, don’t we all believe in the same God, Allah the most High?
Don’t we all pray the five, recite Quran in the night, and try to abstain from the tempting backbite?
Why am I not content with the people I’ve wished for my whole life?
Growing up in the diaspora and constantly teased
For wearing track pants during gym and saying no to pepperoni
For not dating, not drinking, and keeping it clean.
Now, years later, I thought I had finally found my homies.
My pals, my friends, my soul sisters from another mother
We talk about our futures, our passions, our dreams and our troubles.
The sisterhood is strong and we lean on each other.
All of this is true, yes, and yet, I am bothered.
Because what continues to elude me is the realness I seek
From the friends who one day quote Sufi poets and scholars who preach
And the next day post videos of Beyoncé and Jay Z grinding on the beach
Even though the hijab on their head claims “modesty queen…”
I never said I was
But I simply cannot reconcile what I just relayed above
Is it the nafs?
The ego they can’t fight?
Why am I so alone in my thoughts, and who is right?
When it’s uncool to be conservative
And popular to be progressive
Where does that leave the one who is in the middle of it?
I don’t think I’m better than them
I’m just so confused by it.
Alone. Alone. Alone.
Until I realize
That while I was searching so intently for my reflection in another’s eyes
My true soul mate is not to my left or right
But He is above and He knows my plight
The struggle I feel to keep it real
While dealing with those who ooze with appeal
Of the juxtaposition of the dunya and the deen
He is the one guiding what’s in my heart, the Unseen
The Merciful, Rab al Al Ameen
Am never alone.
(Photo Credit: Salmaa Elshanshory)