Monday, November 14, 2005

Starting Over

Starting Over
By Amani Jabbar-Esa

It’s that time again. Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and reflection, is over. As Muslims, we believe our souls have now been laundered clean. So we will start from the beginning.
We have identical Qur’ans, green with gold embossing on their covers. Our blue ones are gone now, along with all our other belongings. But we have each other and our unborn child, he says. My husband begins. He reads Al-Fatihah: The Opening. The words are as familiar to me as my husbands face. . Bismillah-Ir-Rahman-Ir-Rahim Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameen…In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds…He recites the verses in Arabic, and then in English. I find the rhythmic rise and fall of the Arabic words soothing and the baby does as well. My swollen belly is still for now. I imagine my child craning his neck to listen to the words.
My husband commands Arabic as though he alone owns the language. His voice is sure and confident as he reads. His recitation lacks the awkward stops and stutters that exist in mine. Soon it is my turn. I begin the chapter Al-Baqara: The Cow. Bismillah-Ir-Rahman-Ir-Rahim…Alif-Lam-Miim... Thalika alkitabu la rayba feehi hudan lilmuttaqeen …I begin, In the name of God most gracious, most merciful…This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who are pious. The curling calligraphic Arabic script seems odd compared to the bold English translation. The guttural sounds of the language of the Qur’an are so different from the language that I use each day.
I understand little of what I read in Arabic. Jibril understands nearly all of it. We both depend upon the English to gain full understanding of the book. I look at my husband. The contented look on his face shows that he enjoys this ritual more than I do. His face is relaxed and a smile tickles his lips. When I stutter, he corrects me. "Don't rush," he says, "let the words flow." It is frustrating, but rewarding for us both. To him, the Qur’an is a secret that he wants to share with me. To me, it is a mystery that I yearn to discover.
As I read, my mind begins to wander, although I try to stay focused. I wonder about our baby. Will our child inherit my husband’s verbal agility with Arabic, or my love of English? I wonder if he will have my husband’s nose, with the oddly shaped nostril I have always found endearing. Our baby will likely have the soft brown, honey-colored skin, which Jibril and I share.
I yawn, despite my efforts to swallow it. It is only 5:45 A.M, and the white thread of light is not yet distinguishable from the black sky. Soon, we have read enough and we close the books. If we read a little after each Morning Prayer, we will finish just before Ramadan next year.
Jibril sits next to me and pulls up my shirt. Rubbing my belly, he places his ear on my stomach. I smile; we both know he won’t be able to hear anything. I look down at my husband’s face. I notice his beard and the two white hairs that crop up on his left cheek. He is too young to have gray hair, and I cut them out from time to time, when he lets me.
“Ya Habebee’een…qalbee’een,” he says in Arabic. Oh, my two loves… my hearts. "I can' wait to meet you," he speaks directly to my belly. I look around at our sparsely furnished room. We have little furniture, no decorations…yet I feel an inner peace is a contented feeling in my heart that cannot be manufactured.


Anonymous amane h said...

Asalaam Alaikum Amani,

MashaAllah I wandered into your blog spot today and, after reading your beautiful work, I just wanted to say I MISS YOU! Your writings are beautiful, touching and thought provoking, All praises to God. I wish you blessings and peace in Atlanta and by the Grace of Allah, I hope we meet up again soon ... I can't wait to see your bundle of joy ... and Allah permitting have one of my own one day! May the blessings of Allah be upon you and your family always.

9:08 PM, November 14, 2005  
Blogger Amani said...

Thanks Amame...LOL...just me toying around b/c i have too much time on my hands these days. I hope you and your husband are settling in well. Inshallah we will meet up again soon. Keep in touch.

8:58 AM, November 15, 2005  
Blogger Amani said...

Oh yea, do u have a blog??

9:02 AM, November 15, 2005  
Blogger HijabiApprentice said...

asalaamu alaikum sister,

masha ALLAH what a beautiful post. my heart goes out to all affected by katrina and rita. i pray ALLAH makes your new start full of mercy and blessings.

1:38 PM, November 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:07 PM, November 16, 2005  
Anonymous Cherrie A. Sabine said...

Hey Amani,
o.K. When is the book coming out? Girl your writing is da bomb! I am so proud of you for using your writing as way to heal. (post Katrina) I hung on to every word! I even brought your writings to one of my classes and I wasn't even listening to my professor! Love Ya, Cherrie

2:36 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Amani said...

Thanks girl...I have been writing to keep my mind of things, and just document everything that has happened to me. I'll call you later.

3:50 PM, November 30, 2005  

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