#myqueerramadan day 24

the angels press their faces into my energetic field thede last nights of ramadan
their hands skirt the corner of the sunlight hours
my queer angels have whispered to me since my infancy guiding me her

the angels are my hope and the hope of us all that allow us to keep living, to choose life.
the angels can’t always act, but they carry the emotions too big or scary to fully embody in  the moment.
they hold the affective overflow of oppressed, traumatized people, whose full selves have been invisibilized by power in the material world

feelings of separation we’ve ignored or learned to live with, been acclimated to.

mourning for separation, but desire for bridging it.
#Myqueerramadan Day 22
i miss dancing with friends.

when i dance i feel spirits huddle close, ancestors press their face close, hands layer hands and blend into currents of movement, guiding my movement. pressing one foot to the ground, now lifting the thigh back and around through the air. 

the hands that press my body guide me back to dancing as a child in a diwan, built into the backyard of a yemeni family friend’s home, yet that day it was taken over by women for some sort of gathering or party.

a child of 5 years old in a pink dress with a bow tied behind my back, i dance with one of my mother’s friends. i recall her long dark hair pinned back and her smiling eyes while she moved her hands, curving her wrists over and over in countermotion with her hips. i follow, spinning.

in the golden light of memory, the woman i dance with is my ancestor, one or all of the unnamed women hidden in the 11 men’s names that precede mine. 

their names have gone into the earth and my blood, but they show me their passion, their drama, their glee, their mourning in the feelings that vibrate along my core when i dance. 

 #myqueerramadan Day 19

The third quarter moon hangs in the dusty periwinkle sky of sunrise. 

I forgot how much of Ramadan is just being exhausted. 

I pick up sleep where I can like parcels I’ve lost. Yet I always feel tired. 

I struggle to rehydrate at night now, so my lips are always chapped. My appetite is minimal at suhoor and fatoor, so my body is set to a default of hungry non-hunger. 

I am on one of my regular morning walks with the paling sky. My simple focus is on one foot in front of the other while the world around me transitions. 

I know where the crowing rooster lives. I know when the birds descend from the eucalyptus tree to cheer. I know where to find the moon, Jupiter, mars, and Saturn. I know Jupiter is the last white to pierce the light of day with the moon. 

I have always feared the speedily shifting light of dawn. The new morning light is synonymous with having burned the night away, forgone sleep for work or idleness. Dawn means the end to the velvet night that’s all my own. The hours between 1 am and 4 am offer a vortex out of this world where I can make art, finish a 10 page essay, escape routine or schedule or oppressive forces set on taming me—and the dawn signaled my time being taken from me. Shame that I have deprived my body of sleep again, that I will have to face people and activities with the shadow self of sleep deprivation. 

This Ramadan I’ve chosen to consciously shift my sleep schedule to allow myself the nights and sleep during the day. 

Walking across the threshold of day, the birds and quiet of my neighborhood offer a gentle corrective to the anxiety and shame. 

 I have shifted a troubled, overcast part of my mind to a place of gentleness. I steady my own energy while the world around me moves. Sharing my time with the new morning light has shown me another cycle of shame, and it’s started to break loose. 


i spot rust and red for the few days before and after the full moon.

i don’t get a full period because of my iud. it’s the fourth i’ve had inside me, none of them having stayed the full promised turn. my pussy has a mind of its own.

and they like to pray and fast on their own terms. 

i take mugwort and now yarrow, both of which can help regulate delayed or painful periods. they stimulate uterine muscles and help move stagnant energy around the pelvis, of which i have plenty.

i fast and pray with my family, even when wearing my period panties. my spotting and cramps are light, so i don’t feel like fasting is a burden. 

and so i pray. and i fast.
on one day i drink three cups of water in the morning to counteract a long bath and bleeding. i continue my fast like normal until the end of the day after that. 

i feel more able to determine a relationship with faith based on consent.

rather than my relationship being determined for me by others and dictated to me. 

i still remember a conversation with the muslim chaplain, a man whose ego was identified with islam, and any challenge expressed around the faith was taken as a personal attack to himself. 

during a discussion circle, i express, “i feel alienated when im told i can’t pray on my period--that even touching the quran is haram”

his long response included, “you know women are excused from praying while on their periods as a mercy”

as if i hadn’t heard this half a dozen times growing up. 

his god’s mercy includes being excused from worship but not from washing dishes or cooking meals while on one’s period. 

i do remember being relieved getting my period as a young adult--having a reason not to be expected to pray. relieved to have an excuse to myself, parents, and god, to be able to do as i pleased. 

consent in faith, as in all other areas of life, calls to me.
#Myqueerramadan day 16

“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the chances which we hope to bring through those lives” -Poetry Is Not a Luxury, Audre Lorde

"When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."
--Wendell Berry “The Peace of Wild Things”

"When I am asked   
how I began writing poems,   
I talk about the indifference of nature.   

It was soon after my mother died,   
a brilliant June day,   
everything blooming.   

I sat on a gray stone bench   
in a lovingly planted garden,   
but the day lilies were as deaf   
as the ears of drunken sleepers   
and the roses curved inward.   
Nothing was black or broken   
and not a leaf fell   
and the sun blared endless commercials   
for summer holidays.   

I sat on a gray stone bench   
ringed with the ingenue faces   
of pink and white impatiens   
and placed my grief   
in the mouth of language,   
the only thing that would grieve with me."
--Lisa Mueller, “When i am asked”
i find myself pendulating between seeing ramadan as a chance to align with natural rhythms and a contrived isolation from the needs of my body. 

these two poems offer poles i stretch between. the peace of wild things ushers me into the feeling of softness i gather to me when i cuddle peanut when i am ungrounded or when she is triggered. she and i coregulate. seeing her small self curled as silky, furry cinnamon roll, sleeping and breathing gently, never fails to assure me some part of the world is right. her peace helps guide me to the land of all right, as does the speaker in the poem.

as i also gather comfort from measuring my thirst, fatigue, and rest with the changing light of the day. 

coregulation with nature, aligning with the changing light 
how much fasting can feel like an accordion, twisting and turning. going all day and only being able to take a shit after breaking the fast.
ramadan is hard on the self in many ways

ramadan and fasting never felt true to me until i decided to claim it by writing #myqueerramadan, putting words to my reality, calling on poetry as the light by which i learn to measure my life--as outlined by audre lorde. 

like mueller, i, too, have had moments when the moving of light and leaves felt indifferent to my grieving. and felt the length of the shadows disregard for my thirst 4 hours before iftar time. 

because of course, fasting does not feel like grounding in nature for all people.
the feeling about fasting varies with many factors--how long your days are, whether you’re working out of the home, whether you’re expected to provide all the meals for the family, if you have exams, if you’re an olympian or world cup footballer fasting. one’s experience with chronic illness and health conditions, age, or pregnancy similarly shift.

and so as much as observing ramadan, fasting or not, aligns one with the shifting rhythms of nature, so too does telling the truth of our body align the structures of the world with our nature. 

 the truth of human beings are as diverse, shifting, and contradictory as the constellated stars and species around us

tell your story to the stars, to the moon, to the sun, to the hours of the day, to the shadows and their fathers, to the soil and its mother. and also ask to listen to the cosmos telling its story, inside and without you.

#Myqueerramadan day 15

my father says the time after the athan and before breaking the fast is the best time for dua, for invocation.
an attenuation of the moment, a gathering of power from the liminal. presence

i only make salah at these liminal times, marking thresholds of night and day, praying fajr and maghrib with my family 

the in between times are where energy can shift, 

the moment between inhale and exhale

so on the full moon

i dance until i feel where the pain sits

and i dance more

later that morning i take a walk, the moon just letting itself down from the sky

the lifting cloak of night announcing the sun’s nearing

i see a rooster on my neighbor’s roof.

the next time i pass the street, the rooster is in the middle of the street.

#myqueerramadan day 11 and 12

i walk after suhoor this morning instead of iftar. yesterday i was so engaged in editing my the diaspora babes podcast episode i barely dashed to the kitchen to pray, grab some coffee, vegetables, and sambusa before returning to the computer. 

so i walk peanut in the morning, chatting with her about this and that
i don’t care for your teeth enough, what if they all fall out, maybe i don’t wash and brush you enough though i know you hate baths and brushes, did you get enough cuddles yesterday?
amd under the deep blue of the lightening east that gives a streetlight its last 15 minutes of work for the morning, i notice the familiar feeling of never being enough i feel around texting my mom when im not there, the feeling that chased me away from maintaining my friendships until i escorted the feeling to the door.

i am glad to have the chance to recognize this pattern of feeling with my dog daughter in case i ever have human children so i can avoid projecting this insecurity onto them.

the color of the sky is the same color as my two favorite plastic cups from childhood. a translucent aqua that i would fill with water and drink outside, and the summer sun would lighten slightly.
i see the sky like the bottom of the free standing swimming pool my family would erect some summers, and the feeling of walking at dawn with the sky after staying up the whole night feels like when i would swim in that pool, tumbling and turning underwater, looking up at the bottom of the pool. 

when i start the walk you can still see constellations. now they are being wiped from the sky the way paper loses its text when soaked in water. 

i’ve never seen my house from this eastern light.

i rarely find myself enjoying sunrises.

two other sunrises recall themselves to me. 

on the beach in miami, a trip visiting my local friend for our college graduation. we’re not on the south beach, but a residenctial beach, renting the apartment from one of my friend’s “uncles” for a few days to wake up to and go to sleep to the sound of the ocean. 

i fuck on the beach one night. i say goodbye to my partner while its still dark, and i sit and watch the water disappear, then lighten, then the water becomes golden. i walk into the water and take in the sunrise by way of diving into it

another time, i watch the sunrise over the dome of the rock mosque, the place of ascension, a view i have from the early christian convent i am staying at in old jerusalem, four minutes from damascus gate. the birds sing all over the city, announcing the most gorgeous and heartbreaking dawns. 

today i am walking the sidewalks around my childhood home, and i feel all the dawns of my life as one. 

i spend most of last night dreaming of libraries and gender-neutral mosques. 
i pass by the gates of disneyland once, california’s mecca. 

libraries and gender neutral mosques would have a lot in common
egalitarian, a place of community, opportunity for quiet contemplation and reflection,
familiar faces. the potential to be lightly shamed by auntie/uncle/nini/entles for turning in a book late
 or get too loud. i suppose the difference between a library and a gender neutral mosque is 
everyone in a library doesn’t come together for a single communal action 5 times a day. 

but then the uniting purpose in a library holds us together the whole time. 
the first word of quranic revelation
revelation is available to all in libraries, where we go to connect to a cloud of consciousness, 
nurturing for a moment the loneliness of embodiment,

let mosques be like libraries
gender neutral and free
air conditioned when its hot
open to all.
#Myqueerramadan day 9

submission and domination with allah pt 2 

i fast while we’re apart but when i see you its iftar
gardens beneath which rivers flow
i’ll make wudu in the water of your cum. 
face down ass up
fist you while you recite al-fatiha
the opening that brought you into this world
carved by my lips each time i face al-rahmaan

i pray to allah five times a day to fuck you
i pray to allah fives times a day on top of you
i pray to allah five fingers inside you


“if god created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated”
-voltaire, notebooks

submission and domination with allah
today i think about hierarchy and religion.
muslims are taught daily the importance of submitting to god. you submit to god by obeying, by following rules. these rules are communicated to you, by and large, by cishet men. 

though the quran does not include the idea put forth in genesis that “god created man in his own image”, allah is by and large characterized as male in popular discourse. while muslims will put lip service to the idea that god transcends gender, allah is still referred to exclusively with he/him pronouns, while use of any other pronoun is considered inappropriate. coincidentally, the vast majority of those who speak with authority on religion are men. they are as jealous of their power as allah apparently is of worshipping anyone else. submission to allah, an idea endlessly propounded, usually becomes submission to cishet men. submission to injustice. 

a rigid gender binary exists as a way of enforcing hierarchy and power. muslims who try to push the divine into the gender binary are trying to make allah submit to them, not the other way around.

those who would crush the boundless, wild, numinous, ever shifting, ever immanent, eternal power of the divine into a binary and gender hierarchy do so for their own benefit. 

as is familiar, those with power co-opt a tool of inner healing and justice for the purposes of maintaining oppressive hierarchies. 

in arabic, islam means peace through submission. 

submission to allah can mean two things:
surrender of your entire will to cishet male supremacy for the sake of your soul. 
your soul is to be saved, not listened to. 

surrender of the ego to the soul

i reclaim the idea of surrender to allah as surrendering the ego to the soul’s place in this wildly alive, terrifying, sublime cosmos. 

i align my soul with the place where all our souls are one, where art and creativity come from. from the garden’s fertile soil from which we all bloom and die and bloom again.

#myqueerramadan Day 7 

mama, it was you who taught me to say something 
when i see something wrong happening
otherwise i am complicit

so when i speak up at the dinner table after an outburst from baba
that leaves you in tears
even though i am the one who cooked
why am i the one who should keep quiet?

when i open my mouth, why am i the problem?

they would rather i be silent, not hearing, not seeing, not saying
(though cooking is fine)
heedless that they raised a child 
who both cooks and sees and speaks. 

so when they themselves would rather not change
i am the part of them that insists

and i am the part of themselves they repress

i will not be repressed
but how much should i speak to those who will not hear themselves
or another
out of fear.

#myqueerramadan day 5 and 6

what does shame feel like in the body? 

i remember i used to never want to even touch or look at my body during ramadan, regretting the seconds i had to spend properly cleaning myself in the shower. 

being fully embodied in my family’s home is incredibly difficult.  

breathing deeply, dancing, stretching, showing my body all put my brain on danger alert while in my family’s home. i turn to my movement practice to shift this internal reality

i cherish my movement practice. i have developed it over the years, committing to a regular practice that serves me and my body on my own terms. i strive for a movement practice that facilitates a present, loving, consensual relationship with my own body. it is a work in progress. it looks different day to week, month to year, but i try to show up for my material form every day. 

right now, that looks like naked yoga before suhoor. 

around 3 am, i am stretching, strengthening and pushing myself physically before the fast starts. 

i have noticed a tight pain in my abdomen for over a year and a half now. it persists mostly on my right side. after time sitting with it and looking at anatomy diagrams and moving my limbs to see where the muscle starts and ends, i come to the conclusion its a tight psoas. 

i look up exercises to release the psoas, and i find a concise video with instructions to put your weight against a tennis ball at the spots of tension. 

i find a croquet ball rather than a tennis ball. 
it serves.

i position it about two inches to the right of my navel and lay flat, moving around. i raise my right leg to activate the muscle

massaging it around
tenderness--and then a chasm
i feel overcome my a sudden sensation

a wave of nausea. 

it's a feeling that’s familiar from doing deep hip opening postures in yoga. i feel the small scared animal in my brain freeze and tense, tempted to shut down sensation to protect me from the emotion

my conscious self steps in to comfort the scared animal. i open my mouth and exhale audibly haaaaaaaaaaa

the feeling eases and passes, a ball of tension released from sore psoas. 

i stop, reckoning with the sensation.  i sit back. i ask the sensation its name. 

slowly… shame. 
mixed with… grief.  and fear. 

i sit and breathe, vaguely garnishing from memory stores of traumas undergone, earlier traumas met with blame and shame from those tasked as my caretakers
i am a quick learner, and when the next traumas come i know to shame myself. 
and do so silently. 

i do not need to rehearse the narrative of what happened.

just tend to the feelings. the rent open sadness. the inside out skin. the burying. 

i bring my loving attention to the pain. i witness myself. 

i go to massage other tender points
i am ready for the sensations, i open my mouth to let out audible sighs,


i bring sound to my self where before i kept silent. 

your abdomen, the area around your navel, is the seat of self esteem in the body. it's how you hold yourself up. shame in the body can cause shortness there, crouched over postures. balls of pain held there, like in me. the idea that bad things happen to you because you yourself are wrong, or bad, close the fist of your insides. you shrink and always hold tighter. 

my challenge of taking of space in my own body and my own home reflects that of others

people raised as womxn of color in diaspora are asked to spend their whole lives convincing their families they deserve the space they take up. relatives become landlords-- your rent for breathing is due. one can give up their whole will for the roles prescribed and and still find they have rent to pay. because your body is not your own, it is communal property. your consciousness has to pay the price for occupying communal space. alongside this, your body is a place for other people to put their pain, their traumas. 

generational shame is patient. it finds a home in your body in hopes of being seen and waits. it waits until it can jump to another host. please see me, please witness me, please tell me that what was done to me was not okay. 

find the place shame lives in your body and be a witness. sit with it. right now, the attention is enough.
if you can, bring voice, bring movement, bring love. 

softness will follow. 

and much else.

child of diaspora
claim what’s yours
your gender is yours. your sexuality is yours. your dress is yours. your faith is yours. your culture is yours. your life is yours. 

they told us it wasn’t
they told us that claiming all of them would break the world. it might. 
it might break the hierarchies that benefit a few over others. 

they told us claiming all of those would disrespect islam. 
it won’t. period. 
you claiming all that’s yours might cause some cis men who are used arbitrating cultural or religious authenticity to feel disrespected. that’s okay. 

i find that certain people seem more entitled to decide what is and is not acceptable in faith. they think that the story they learned from someone who looks like them overrides the truth in your gut. growing up, shame keeps me in line. during a reckoning around faith and how i would conduct my life, i decide that i wouldn't do any religious practices that i did out of obligation or shame. 

i stop ritual salah, i stop covering my hair. i stop listening to any religious advice that tells me what or what not to do with my body. (and there are a wealth of hadiths that threaten hell to loose for everything from plucking your eyebrows to wearing perfume.) and i give myself permission to not feel bad about doing what i already do or like or want.
i never stop calling myself muslim, nor do i ever call myself a bad muslim (sure i feel this way sometimes), i’m just my own muslim. 

fast forward a few years, and i’m also developing a spiritual practice as a witch,
 i learn endless rituals for cleansing with water. yet i’ve been making wudu since i was a child 
i encounter multiple suggestions of protective invocations. but i still have the shortest surah, surah al ikhlas, filed away in my heart and head.
i read appropriative imperatives to energetically cleanse by burning sage. but i have buhkhoor; oodh and frankincense. 

my wonderful friend phoenix inana tells me, “don’t let orientalism take the best parts of your culture from you.”

i take it to heart

later, i add to this: don’t let patriarchy and homophobia take the best parts of your culture and religion from you. don’t let inherited shame ensuring your part in a hierarchy keep you from sinking into the practices and comforts that are your birthright.

imperialism, modernity, and capitalism have already taken so much of our ancestral support and wisdom from us. we deserve what we still have access to. 

obviously there are ancestral traumas to be healed that existed before western tyranny, histories of colonization by arabs and the iconoclasm that occurred with the spread of islam. cycles of violence exist perpetually. 

add the violences of western exploitation, displacement, and environmental destruction that have formed the dominant structures that persist today--we need all the support we can get.

and we deserve the support strategies that kept our ancestors afloat through millienia. 

there’s no going back to an imagined golden age, and authenticity in diaspora is mostly a fiction. so call on the good of what you have been given and use it as fuel for fantasies toward liberation: dreaming, explorative play, that will lead to justice, decolonial strategy, and the future we need.

I watch the sun and moon circle me to learn what revolution means, everyone shining their light.
-Noujoum, amal amer

eating a rich meal after 14 hours of neither eating nor drinking could rush me into a blood sugar laden daze. taking my dog for a walk in the night breeze stabilizes me in more ways than one. i get to visit with the moon. 

the slice of crescent greets me on my evening walk after iftar.

this is the first ramadan i have fasted or even observed intentionally since i integrated moon cycles into my spiritual practice. 
during depressive slumps, when calendar time ghosts and leaves saturday and tuesday indistinguishable, the moon offers me a gentle, grounding hand. i can look up to them.
the moon shows a different face every day. yet we always know them. 
the quick changes of the moon also helps me loosen my distressed grasp on life. it’s a personal struggle of mine to always feel like time is moving too fast for me, that responsibilities call me to leave what i might learn to love. however, moon cycles remind me that the rhythm of my life is like breathing: constant, always inviting and closing, always following. if i take one shallow breath, the very next can be deep in my belly. the waning and waxing moon guides me to take my life with intention and ease

my dog daughter stops to investigate a patch of grass. 

venus is bright in the sky, lesbian lover of the moon for the past 9 months. she sinks closer to the horizon night by night before disappearing below the horizon by the end of may for retrograde. we won’t see venus again until mid june, when she’ll appear in the east before dawn. i will wait for her.

as a teenager, my planner always looks like it had an altercation with my book bag. pages shorn, sketches partout, notes entered religiously then not at all, i mark ramadan into my calendar with frustration. how arbitrary! why is it two weeks earlier than last year? how does a lunar calendar even make sense? 
grappling with multiple calendars frustrates my attempts to reconcile what i had been taught about history. no one tells me time is fake. that trauma and love time travel, and my body is the delorean. 

peanut finishes peeing, and resignedly submits to another lap around the block. 
i consider ramadan as a time to recenter one’s self in the celestial cosmos. to embody. 
one’s eating and drinking is aligned with the sun. you exert your solar imperative, your will, will the sun’s light shines. you also get to marvel at the waning of your will as the day goes on. by the evening, before breaking the fast, my mind is fuzzy and my range of activities is limited. my will is spent, bent to the point of the sun crossing the horizon. and when it does, suddenly there is no rush. it is moon time now, and i attend to my body by its rhythm. one’s whole month is aligned with the moon, and we bend toward the reflection of the inner and outer

the 28 phases of the moon correspond to the 28 letters of the arabic language. my walks with the sky and my companion help me read what is written in me.
 #Myqueerramadan Day 2

And when We took your promise
that you would not shed the blood of your own
and would not drive your own from their homes
you then confirmed it, 
as you yourselves bear witness

But then you yourselves 
killed your own people
and drove a group from among you
out of their homes, 
assisting efforts against them
with iniquity and enmity
      -Surah al baqarah, 84-85 The Essential Koran. translated by Thomas Cleary

prayer, like sex, is an invitation for my mind to start racing. 
both physical intimacy and intimacy with spirit, mediated through the physical movement, appear to trigger me to leave my body and embark on a thought brigade
my thoughts during prayer are pompous, a nationalist parade. some of the cavalcade skips, others, the elders, dripping in the weight of their decades old imperial conflicts, march along more stolidly,
these are the varying paces of my thinking
deep breath. a check on the wholeness of my form. hands and arms connected to feet and legs, head balanced on spine. i feel myself the length of a tree, recognizing roots and branches. i am one. 
why does my mom have to whisper like that, why is my dad so loud, what will i write this morning, i didnt drink enough water what does  jessica from escaping polygamy feel about her place…
the thoughts are back. sighing. the two short raqats of fajr are drawing to a close. i silence my brain until i hear the signal from baba, and i turn my head to the right and the left. 

during the night before suhoor, i expect to send emails inquiring about therapy. instead, i find several full length episodes of escaping polygamy on youtube. excellent
i love content on middle american christian cults. quiverfull movements, fundamentalist  off branches of the lds, cults, hierarchy, secrets, submission.  while serial killer true crime is not for me, this shit i love
i haven't broken down why i like this sort of content, but i suppose it involves the general appetite for the lurid that makes reality tv so popular combined with my particular interests in religion, race, and sexuality. partly shock at what whiteness allows people to get away with in this country. partly cathartic recognition of the tone used to describe the post 9/11 climate i grew up with applied to white people in the united states. 
the scriptedness and staging of a show like escaping polygamy dramatizes the real trauma of women leaving polygamous christian cults around utah. the way that children, mostly women, are cut off from their community support for trying to assert autonomy.
though i don’t make the connection while binging the episodes on youtube, later i consider the practice of polygamy among muslims, which leads to me to draw a parallel between the loss of support systems that those fleeing christian fundamentalism and the fragility of support systems for queers from muslim families.

we all deserve for our needs to be met: for our needs  for belonging, acceptance, love, witness, and the distribution of material tasks of survival. support systems are vital for survival. yet when we connect from a place that is not authentic to ourselves, what do the structures mean?  the clash of needs generates rage, anger, sadness, shame, grief. 

i flee from the homes of feeling in my body during prayer and sex. fearful of future and foregone loss, my brain goes to chatter. 

i breath to recenter. i will not turn out the self i love.
#myqueerramadan day 1

i wrap myself in a keffiyah for the first time i pray in jamaat with my family in 6 years. 

since coming into my self, i have refused to pray in jamaat with my family. joining in the ranks of hierarchy, “women” behind “men” irks me. it grates my skin and teeth to the degree where i can’t focus, and the standing, bowing, and kneeling feels like a battle against my true being. each second listening a betrayal of my nature. so i pray by myself in my own way. 

yet this ramadan, i feel different. back in my childhood home after many years, i am choosing to fast. i choose suhoor with my family, and praying together feels like a natural extension of eating with each other. 

i pray behind baba, but my prayer is my own. i close my eyes in prayers, staying with my breath and my body. 

my eyes closed, i open my inner sight to a wide open window on a vista of mountains, bright sun opening over a light mist of clouds. this was the view i had while praying in jamaat at a queer muslim wedding i attended in the mountains in the south of france last september. 

i line up with the wedding guests, queer, trans, and swana. folks of all faiths choose to choice the congress of prayerful movement. many choose to stahnd in respect at the sides or behind. the two groups do not fall along fault lines of “muslim” or “non-muslim,”  “religious” or “non religious.” the two lovers marrying each lead us in prayer, as well as the muslim woman officiating the nikkah. each of the three leads us in two raqat, mirroring the raqat i pray this morning for fajr.  

i show up as i am. i have not covered my body. i have not washed. i only pass my camera to a friend who will be standing at the side. 

in the first sujood, i break down crying. i am wearing a jean dress that loves my body, one i found at a thrift store my ex girlfriend pointed me to. i tie-dye bleached the dress and an oversized vest to match. the sobs came through my whole body during the prayer, and i put my head to the earth with my community like a homecoming. a return to the embrace of love both intensely personal and communal, as if a group of children ran into a waterfall all at once. in a group, but each gasping in the cataract of water separately, the way water allows separate bodies to be connected. it feels like when you’re swimming in the sea with multiple people, but when you go beneath the water, it’s just you and the current. even if there are others enacting it at the same time. 

like a dozen people buried in the same graveyard. separate, but sharing the same soil. becoming one with the growing earth. 

that was how it felt to pray in communion at a queer muslim wedding

i welcome the light of acceptance while showing up as myself that day, with a group of people who have also chosen to show up and claim all the parts of themselves together, while also claiming each others’ lives in love. 

mountains surrounded the peak where the wedding was performed, peaks that protected the gathering and impressed on us the majesty of the wildness inside us that was reflected around us. 
this is the view that came before me as i pray with my family on fajr the first day of ramadan.

while i pray with my birth family who does not accept all of me, i see myself  praying in jamaat at that glorious wedding with all my queer muslim ancestors, my queer angels, my lineage, my soul family, my queer muslim family, all standing in prayer. bowing as one. 

my family’s home does not always feel like my own, though i am here now.

 i take the bukhoor from room to room, barefoot. smolder from the censer. a glorious incense. 

baraka, blessings from the source of all, allah and the goddess to each room in the house, bidding good and dispersing the unbidden. 

as i write this the sky turns the same royal blue i am familiar with from exiting the club and pulling all nighters. it is the gradient of morning i step into as i go to sleep.
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