It has been quite a long time since I appropriated Qur’anic verses or formulations in my writing. But I have just finished teaching a module that eventually revolved around migration.
Every Monday we would discuss in one way or another, bodies, movements, borders, EUROPE, airports, race, emotions, fear, the state. Eventually we spoke about space as well. Also as soon as the module started to come to an end, I have been always on the move, perhaps trying to prove to myself that I haven’t been fixated, and that my legs can walk, I can decipher the buses, the trains, cars (with less success), and airplanes. That I can still have 3 hours in a brand new city and walk it, without the pretence to have known it, but also without utter resignation of outsidedness.
I have walked and walked that in the past three weeks, I have walked a hole in my very lovable shoes that are less than a year old, and I wore a hole in my pair of jeans, and two holes in two pairs of my socks. Happy holes I call them, they came into being with movement.
But then there have been all the stalled movements, bodies drowning in the sea like how they have been for years, careless rhetorics of bans- we try hard to frown upon them, but notice how almost normalised they have come?- changed plans, and unease.
So it has been ages since I used Qur’anic phrases in writing. I remember when writing about space in my MA desirtation, I had this left over plan. Once I am done, I wanted to think through all the verses that directly, unmistakably order believers to walk the earth and see (and with vision comes learning, a spatial learning of history that intertwined with an act of faith). The verses that warn the faithful from ascribing to victimhood in place, because the earth was spacious, inherently spacious, specifically spacious, so that they can migrate therein (migration always has a positive connotation, it is the ultimate movement in faith, and for six month I have been talking about it as a crisis!). And finally, the verse that talks about the earth tightening up with its spaciousness until there is no refuge.
I was reckless then, but I never did that. Yet the three formulations have, sort of, inscribed in me a rhythm of walking and stalling, of agency and impotence. I know there is a ground, and at most of the times, I can boldly claim that the ground is made for walking. That walking the earth is a prayer, both an act of faith and of knowledge. Of seeking refuge and also of making refuge, of spacing. Also of wearing of, wearing off our bodies, our clothes, our thoughts that slip from us unto a street we won’t recall its name in the morning. Of conjuring a dream in an airplane, and waking up to a stewardess, leaving the leftover dream hanging there in a cloud, perhaps to fall with the rain on some land you never knew you passed by. Of shedding ourselves, our skin, our clothes, in an attempt to know, to escape and seek, until we run out, wear off, and mix with earth again.
But then, there is a ban every day.