Saturday, October 10, 2015

NOT ATHIEST - by the young Iraqi poet Adham `Adil

This poem was translated from the Arabic dialect of Iraq by Dr. Mohammed Baqir Alwan, Professor Emeritus of Arabic Language and Literature, Tufts University, and one of the world's foremost experts on Iraqi and Arabic poetry.  It is another example of the refusal of Iraqi youth to submit to the sectarianism and "politicized religion" of Iraq's dominant political class. Poetry has always been a powerful form of resistance in Arab society and can be seen here as an effort by Iraqi youth to both challenge efforts by sectarian entrepreneurs to create a divisive political culture and reappropriate religion from those who seek to distort it.

Not atheist and I love God,
I know in what corner He is
I can find Him,
Like a teenage girl knows where to place the mascara.
The path to His heart is simple, with laughter you can find it.
He does not have a closed face,
He does not have hellfire. He does not torture people,
He does have not dark designs.
For those who stay up late at night, He is a blanket and stars,
For the thirsty, He is a stretched river.
He has the smell of an orchard dew.
He carries the goodness of the resigned
This is God,
The God I grew up with, the One who reared me.
I laughed in His face when I saw heavens is but a friendly chat.
He took me by the hand,
I do not know where He took me,
This is the God I talked to and He talked to me.
He told me:
Laugh and love the people, you will find me.
He told me:
In the ecstasy of the lover, you will find me.
He told me:
In the perplexity of the mal-treated, you will find me
He told me:
When you are eager,
Carrying a heavy load, look at it carefully,
You will find the traces of My arms.
If you do not like a branch on a tree, oh eager soul,
I will forget you and I ask you kindly to forget Me.
If you hate Me, I will not blame you,
I will not hate you if you love another Lord.
Being safe and happy
Go, leave Me. I will be with you.
I will open my Heaven and I remain waiting for you.
If you want to pray, not pray, I will not force you
Why are you afraid of Me?
You were the work of My hands, I will not break you.
I will not torture you, humiliate you, nor shun you.
If you want to live alone, live alone,
If you want to leave, leave,
If you want to come, I am waiting.
This is God,
The God I knew with the eagerness of children,
I knew Him in the greenness of trees,
I knew Him in the tear of a perplexed one,
Before He was disfigured by some,
They made Him seeking vengeance.
Why did God become a result?
A reaction reserved specifically for the one who prays?
Between Hell and Heaven?
He is a tent of dew in the summer for the poor,
He covered anyone with warm heart,
God in the world is victory,
God is a house and a place for the homeless,
God is a matter of choice,
I am against all temples,
All mosques,
All churches,
When they make God a business.
I am against the religion that connects
The greatness of God with a minaret.
I am against the first teacher who said to me
Read the Opening Chapter, you will get a women
And a very long river having the taste of wine (1).
I declare my withdrawal
From the old traditions,
The new traditions,
From the faces that said
God is fearsome, His hellfire never subsides.
I have such a heartache that can put the world on fire
Like a cigarette.
Because of you,
My contemplation is enormously large,
The ache in my heart is a whole poem,
My wound like a cave.
I am suffocating. Yes, suffocating.
I feel the world has no tales of love,
I feel religion remained everywhere
Like a tear in a shirt still unstitched,
I began to think and doubt people,
When I found the man who prays is a thief,
When I saw the woman who visits the holy places
The palms of her hands are but mouths,
When I saw God
Stolen from the face of a child,
I saw the fasting man who is afraid of a gulp of water
But his eyes rape all the women in the market.

(1) The reference, here, is to Surat al-Fatiha, the first chapter of the Qur`an. According to some interpreters, the faithful are supposed to get in Heaven beautiful women and wine-like drinks.


Tung Nguyen said...

Is that a poem ?

biet thu dep
thiet ke nha dep
giuong ngu gia re

Sahar Saleh said...

Yes but it is originally Arabic and was translated thats why u dont sense a poem in it