I knew the five pillars of Islam before I knew.
And when I knew the pillars, I knew the prayers.
And when I knew the prayers, I knew that insha’Allah means if God wills,
that God and Allah are the same though my Christian friends said otherwise,
that when I asked for something and my dad said insha’Allah habibti it meant no.
I knew the pillars and the prayers before I knew myself.
At least one of the five may never know me—I’m no pilgrim.
And when I thought I knew myself, I never found Allah.
And when I thought I found Islam, it had no pillars.
And when I thought I found Allah, they had no gender.
Allah was shaped like bare shoulders and lavender sheets—a lily reaching upwards.
Allah was shag carpet and a crisp purple neon sign—DINER or Self-Service Liquor Mart.
Allah was an entire aesthetics of pleasure. Insha’Allah the parents will understand.
And when I found pleasure, it was the word chartreuse—
peony and petrichor—a shock of my first lover’s curls dyed pink.
And when I found pleasure with my first lover they said to Nietzsche, God is Dead
And when I found pleasure it was nature and artifice—
it was Allah but also human hands.
And when I found pleasure, I started to become myself.
I asked my dad can Allah be man-made?
I asked my dad is Islam shaped like five pillars or like the sun that shines through them?
I asked my dad does Allah love me?
And when I asked my dad, my dad cried.