Ode to Allah

Syrian Sufi in DamascusWhen we were little kids, believing in Allah was such an easy thing to do. He was with us all the time. If we started eating we were reminded to recite His Name to bless the food; if we wanted to tell our classmates we were telling the truth about the fact the teacher was planning a pop quiz, we swore by Allah’s name; if we intended to go to sleep, we marveled upon Allah’s beautiful day.

There used to be a sense of surrender that flowed into our lives easily. We were not fanatics, we did not hate other people; in fact we celebrated our love for Allah with our Christian childhood friends with the same feverish enthusiasm. We received gifts at Christmas and were reminded God is Love at every turn, as we chewed on turkey and held hands with our Thanksgiving company and prayed to Allah. Allah was there all the time, very much integrated into our every step of childhood.

We were reminded that if we showed talent that it was a gift from Allah, and we had little egos, and much belief in the fact that yes, our talents were Allah’s… and no one ever accused us of being weird or fanatical about it.

But in adulthood, mention Allah twice during the day and you’re eyed with suspicion, especially if you don’t look quite “the type.” These days Allah is reserved for people who look Allah-inclined… Alas!

Allah is the love of every race, color and kind; He is not reserved to a certain “look.”


About 50% Syrian

What is identity? I was raised Arab (of varying origins), with a Syrian mother, and Moroccan, Lebanese and Tunisian great grandfathers and grandmothers. I always felt 50% Syrian, and this percentage mattered to me more than anything else. Love of my life, my late Sufi grandmother, is Syrian... all her bedtime stories were about her life in Damascus. Damascus is where the heart dwells.
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