Saturday, December 18, 2010

What They Do Not Teach

I’ve studied in the madrasahs.
I know what they teach, there.
Admirable stuff, some of it:

I like the theology, I love the rhetoric.
History can be useful, poetry is ecstatic,
although I can take or leave the jurisprudence.

And no imam is worth his weight in hummus
if he doesn’t know the Qu’ran well enough
to produce a competent fatwa.

But it makes me sad to think of all of the
things absolutely necessary for the health of the soul
that they will never hear within those walls.

They do not teach you how to listen
for the mooning cry of the Beloved
heard only late at night when the heart is silent.

They do not teach you how to return Allah’s advances
or how to do the dance of courtship
that draws lovers together in their hearts.

They do not teach you how to roll passionately
in the arms of the Beloved
intermingling body and spirit until two are one.

And as far as Najat is concerned,
these things they do not teach
are all you really need to know about religion.

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