Accidental Art

The abstract art
formed by fallen hair
on white shining tiles.

The dragons and castles
made of white clouds
in afternoon skies.

The dancing figures
made of water blobs
on a green bathroom floor.

All the accidental art
in every corner of the universe
waiting in ambush
to take my breath away.

And yet all I can think about
are a pair of black, black eyes
devoid of color
yet full of all the shades
that ever existed.


What is it about the Quran?

Someone once asked me how I still believe that the Quran is divine considering all the modern cosmological and scientific theories. While answering this I started thinking, when had I exactly started whole-heartedly believing that this Book is divine and not man-made? And what exactly had convinced me of its divinity?

I was taught to recite the Quran as a child, but in my family, like most Muslim-born families, no one really talked about how or *why* this book is undoubtedly extra-worldly. It’s just “our Book”, that’s it. No questions asked, no answers told.

But I don’t remember having a “blind” faith in it either, at least not after a certain age. So something must have convinced me, there must have been some knowledge that nailed it for me, made me realize the magnitude of it. I know the rough time when that happened: I was around 14-15, I got to know more about Islam and history and the Quran and intelligent design and what not… But exactly *what* was it that did it – I keep failing to remember.
Maybe it was the palindromes in surah Muddatthir and Surah Yasin.

Maybe the event in history where the Romans were unexpectedly defeated by Persia in 615 AD in a land far away, and immediately verses were revealed in the Quran [Surah Rum] about their defeat, much quicker than the news could have humanly reached our Prophet ( ) in Arabia. And the next verses prophecised their next victory along with its timing (which came true).

Maybe the numerical miracles – 25% land and 75% water, 50% fear and 50% hope, 50% day and 50% night, 50% male and 50% female, and so on.

Maybe the unique, epic way this book has been passed on for generations, orally instead of by writing – yet not letting a single letter be changed.

Or maybe how its language is the only language that stayed the same through so many centuries, while languages from even 2 centuries ago – like Victorian English – have gone through such major change that laymen don’t even understand these languages anymore, and people have to spend years studying a single drama or poem.

The use of metaphors, hyperbole, rhyme, sarcasm, imagery, scene-setting, and other literary devices.

How the story of prophet Yusuf and his 11 brothers can be divided into exactly 12 parts, and how it symmetrically builds up a tragedy in the first half, and then relieves it in the second half.

Geographic facts like mountains having underground parts rooting them (like pegs), which have only been discovered later.

The mention of the sun and stars moving in orbits, despite being revealed at a time when people didn’t even believe the *earth* to be moving.

The medical accuracy in the stages of development of the embryo.

The expansion of the universe.

All life starting from water.

Ants having a language.

Iron having come from outer space.

Pharaoh’s body being preserved.

The poetic beauty.

The human rights.

Animal rights.

Plant rights.

And on and on.

But it wasn’t any of these. It just wasn’t. Knowing about all of these kept adding to my faith, made my conviction stronger, but where did it all root back?

I’ll never know. I could have known all of these and more and still disbelieved. So many people do. So there is only one legit answer. One that we read so often in the Quran itself, one we hear so often – at least once each Friday in jumuah khutba – yet ignore:

“Whomever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide.”

Sketching A Soul

Have you ever noticed
That the biggest adventure in life
Is gradually getting to know a person?

It’s like doing an elaborate sketch
Like those tutorials, or your kindergarten drawing books.
First you draw a bunch of shapes –
A circle here and a rectangle there,
A few lines on the sides.
Then inside those you draw more complex shapes
Soft edges
Rounded corners.
Now you have an outline
You start building on it.
Now you add details
You add and add
And just when you thought it was enough
You add some more.
You know their name
Age, height, color
Their bachelors major
Their second language.
There you have the shapes:
A circle for the head
A trapezium for the body
Rectangles for the limbs.
Isolated, disproportioned.

You read their 3 am thoughts in vague facebook statuses.
The edges start softening.

A short conversation about where they bought that book from.
The arms are taking shape.

A philosophical comment on something seemingly deep that you said.
Jawlines appear.

You see some art they created.
Shoulder blades and pectorals and fingertips emerge.

You hear their voice reciting words of God
Or humming a nostalgic tune.
Biceps get shaded, knuckles are highlighted.

A few months in, you know their taste in books
What videos they watch on youtube
What philosophies they hate
What they say when they’re excited
How they look when they’re nervous
How often they smile
Why they smile
How they smile.

The details are rushing in
Like rain.
A dam has broken and you’re drowning.
Your pencils get shorter and your eraser is wearing out
From drawing and erasing
Sharpening and softening
Shading and highlighting
Too much.

Every conversation
Adds dimensions you didn’t know existed.
From 1D lines to a 2D sketch it’s suddenly a 3D sculpture
And before you know it
It has popped out of your sketchbook and started walking through air
But no it doesn’t stop there
You see layers after layers of
A Homo sapien
Turning into a human
Turning into a person
Turning into a soul.
Physicists might be talking about a 4th or a 5th or even a 10th dimension
But you know there are over a hundred dimensions
Because you’ve seen them all
In this sketch.
If you’ve never noticed this journey
Despite going on it so many times in your life
If you haven’t felt the poetic beauty of
A human becoming a person
I hate to say this but
You’ve missed out on the biggest surprise
That God has left for you.

Because every new person is a mountain to climb
And by the time you climb a mountain
You are not the same person anymore.

So please don’t tell me about how much you want to travel the world
If you have never traveled through
A person.

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