Dua Kalimah Syahadah

by Irie

i have been crying about dying
and not-dying, all at the same time,
keenly aware my consciousness will not be liberated:
left to float in space. left to float in the void.
left to float on and on, long after this mortal body
and the mortal body after that and the mortal body after that
and ten thousand mortal bodies after that
i am condemned to existence.
Allah sits on his throne, and laughs.

I want to ask, who created You? how did You begin to exist?
was there silence
and then a sonic boom? i am trying to imagine these things, a sequence
of events i will probably never be able to comprehend,
and possibly this all might be sacrilegious,
but all teachers i have ever had have taught
me to go to the root of the problem.


so why are there no answers? why are questions forbidden?
why is Allah a dude? like, come on, divinity is male?
they duct-tape my mouth then duct-tape me to the corner
of the madrasah classroom. out of sight out of mind out of
any hope for salvation, and I think about how no one prayed for the devil.
who does he get to turn to, then? who do we get to turn to?
I ask my friends who wear the tudung, how do you choose to sin?
what do you tell yourselves, when you take the tudung off
and kneel for another?
I want to sincerely love god but I also want to sin
and why are those things not allowed?
am I a good Muslim if I’m only a good person?
am I a good person if I’m a good Muslim? can I be a good person
and not be a good Muslim?

why am I trying so hard? if I say bismillah before I down some soju
does that count? what threshold of depression is acceptable
before I can rely on vices to cope? which is the bigger sin,
suicide or fucking? this dunya is too short and the afterlife and
how I will burn for all of this is too long, I know, but I just want to cease.
if You won’t even let me stop being conscious, can I please
just do that myself? blur out the edges a little, and not think
about how even if I do kill myself I am just confining myself to
a non-corporeal existence I am still fucking alive I am still fucking
conscious I am still fucking depressed-

if I do get to syurga, how does that work? do You take the bad chemicals away?
do I start producing dopamine? or serotonin? or is the happiness that I am promised
all an illusion? I’m not sure I want to go to heaven if that’s the case.
I just- I just want to understand, but no one else does.
the ustaz keeps silent. the ustazah smiles and squirms and suggests
that some things cannot be known. my dad for all his
religious radio channels on the way to work will only tell me
that if I pray I am safe. but what if I am not safe? who gets to be safe?
who the hell are You to decide for any of us?
like okay sure, You created us, whatever, I didn’t ask for it.
what about like, Oprah? she does so much charity and doesn’t pray
five times a day. how’s that fair? she’s going to hell? how about my friends
who left Islam? or those who were never in it, but spend all their free time
volunteering with children with autism and doing yoga and
searching for enlightenment in ways that don’t consist of
dua kalima syahadah?

Allah sits on his throne, and laughs.
I am condemned to existence,
have been condemned since ten thousand mortal bodies ago.
so I cry about dying, and not-dying, all at the same time:
my consciousness will not be liberated.


As hostile as this piece seems, religion has been a double-edged sword for me. It did offer me the guidance, the solace I needed, when I was much younger and struggling with depression alone: but it has also been refined as a tool of abuse as I got older.  

What I found, kneeling on my prayer mat, was nothing like what other people said or practiced or used against me. And when I was finally driven to drink, because my other vices were no longer enough to keep me sane, I couldn’t understand how this could be understood as sin. Anything that kept sobriety away from me, anything that made sure I didn’t have to be depressed or numb or suicidal, was a mercy, was the only mercy. My parents’ words about alcohol no longer made sense, as did many things, because nothing was black-and-white like the religion they had painted for me. This made so many things difficult, and continues to do so. But I like to think that as much as I suffer and shun God at times, Allah knows best, and will bring me mercy in whatever way. So “Allah sits on his throne, and laughs” even as I paint him cruelly.


Teh cino advocate, intersectional feminist, and burgeoning poet; Irie has a lot of questions she tries to explore in the work they do. They believe in creation as resistance, and hope to one day achieve an understanding of the world, whether through Allah or not.

Illustration by Ishibashi Chiharu