POW: Prisoner of Words

By Zainab Ghwari

“I attended a Quran class until I started college. Of course, I had to stop then… you know, because of all the work and stuff.”

“I wish I could learn Arabic so I can actually get what I read. Maybe when I finish school/retire/my kids grow up.”

“It’s way too hard to throw my life away and learn Arabic. Allah SWT knows my intention. Reading the translation is good enough.”

Many of us use one of the above excuses to hide behind… hoping that no one will peak past the curtain we’ve created to shield us from our own reality. Upon finding the entrance into the world behind the manifold curtain, we stand amazed at the discovery. Contrary to popular belief, we find a blank white space–with books, electronics, and edibles scattered therein. Somewhere in the distance, an enormous bed looms over the aforementioned objects, and their size and weight suddenly look petty, consumed by the shadow of the bed; death.

This illusion is the prison cell within which I am confined; it is the jail cell within which I have imprisoned myself. And much to my dismay, only I can release myself from the shackles of this empty life, one branded by my lame activities (or lack thereof): eat, sleep, and the illusion of business… books and nooks from which I usually draw the most unprofitable knowledge, worthless in this life and the next.

But when will I open my eyes? The hollow and shallow nature of these distractions does not wield enough power to keep my conscience satisfied, and I yearn for deeper meaning. I know I have not tasted the true sweetness of food, life, or faith. I know He is watching as I mechanically ‘live’, regressing by day and dying by night, still waking up to a new chance… only to throw it away again so as not to disturb the peace. Ironically, this ‘peace’ I’ve never even smelt, let alone felt, and if I did chance upon experiencing the ineffable, I couldn’t relive the experience if I tried.

So I cry. I’m not a prisoner of war, but a prisoner of words. Believe it or not, the latter more so hurts, for its pain doesn’t stop until the words are replaced. Mine is a soul misplaced and hard to refurbish, because I have to cleanse it from years of plaque and rubbish. I know deep down that I cannot continue dying slowly–I don’t want to return to my Creator and the Judge in this miserable state. I am advised to visit the graveyard, hospital, or even simply open the Qur’an and ponder upon my Creator’s first-class 7-heaven archangel-delivered mail to me.

But I don’t. Though I WANT to change now to see clearly without Claritin-D, I don’t feel it a necessity and forget to take heed. I’ve heard about Allah’s mercy, and the danger in losing hope. I know the Qur’an was sent down for a reason, but is it really so that my neglect resembles treason?

Maybe I just don’t love it enough, though I recognize that without it my life is tough, and rough. Maybe it’s time to get up.



Maybe my time is up. Then what?


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