“Forbidden” – a poem


I have dug inside me,
A well – a deep, infinite well.
In it lives with me My God
The God of both women and men,
The God of the oppressed and the liberated,
The God of the cursed and the blessed

There with me, my feelings dwell,
Far from the fondness of human thought,
Unwelcome elsewhere
The feelings I’m forbidden to relish,
The secrets I’m forbidden to reveal,
The questions I’m forbidden to raise,
The mistakes I’m commanded to regret,
But I don’t. For I have no regrets.
Only mistakes to learn from.

There, I speak the unspeakable
I quarrel with My God,
And My God allows me this –24776_392097357371_2911969_n
And there, I think the forbidden
And My God hears me, too,
There, I demand answers,
And My God answers me, too,
My God hears the shattering of my voices
And pacifies my frustrated nerves
There, I heave sighs suppressed elsewhere,
And screams ignored elsewhere,
But I must scream,
For the forbiddance of speaking has boiled my brain,
And the ludicrousness of the ulama, the “learned,” vexes me,
And the labels of heresy and blasphemy grieve my soul
But I must tell my stories.

And I tell my God,
Why have you forbidden me these natural thoughts?
Why am I nothing but a dangerously seductive being, who
Incites sordid feelings in men?
You must forgive me, Dear God, for I mean no harm,
But you must permit me to ask –
Why do you objectify me when You created me Yourself?
They tell me You’re all-powerful;
But then why did you make me the reason men behave so despicably
When they see my face, or my hair,
Or my ankles,
Or my eyes?

And My God smiles at me
And tells me
“Don’t confuse My guidelines with the orders of men.”
Just as the well starts to flood, and I
Develop confidence and valor
And my spirit ascends the seventh heaven,
And my heart glows with peace
And my mind enfolds the universe

I have become a woman.
A woman at last.
And I’m going to tell my stories.

~ Orbala
March 1, 2010

11 thoughts on ““Forbidden” – a poem

  1. I really love this poem 🙂 Also reminded me of how distressed I was when I saw the ummah’s expectation of people, and it was really difficult for me as someone queer and female bodied. And just with one or two pieces of Allah’s guidance I was finally eased in my life.


  2. My word.. this poem *gasp* came at the right time. This is expresses my personal search for God; that search to be regarded as a spiritual being rather than a jumble of reproductive parts. How silly of me to not realise that other women feel the same way? Very good poem Orbala.


    • Infinite thanks, DL 🙂 I’m happy to hear it reached you at a right time! I’ve another poem with the same theme – will post that later tonight or tomorrow!


  3. it makes me angry why Pashtuns are Patriarchal.

    Does it also make you equally angry that the rest of the world is patriarchal, too, or is it just Pashtuns’ patriarchy that angers you? I hope it’s all patriarchy everywhere – and good! I like seeing people angry with patriarchy.

    Oh, and quick question:

    Your so tight about women’s rights

    Surely, you meant that in the most positive of ways. I can’t respect people who are not so “tight” about women’s rights.

    And I actually don’t think women are better than men (not necessarily, anyway). I don’t think any group of people has to be better than another for us to treat them like humans, like we’re supposed to. Can’t both be equally good and equally bad and still be deserving of equal respect and worth? Of course they can.


  4. Salaam, dear Orbala! I’m from Germany and found your blog by chance – but I really thank God that I finally came to a point where I read your entries on a regular basis as they’re a profound source of inspiration.
    This poem touched my heart and soul because it’s my deepest wish to have a relationship to God that’s based on love, grace and hope. But mostly religion is only about fulfilling the expectations of other people, especially of men as you also mention in this piece.
    I want to thank you for being a voice of the opressed ones in the world, a voice for tolerance and a voice for what faith should really stand for – spreading peace and justice everywhere you go.

    Greetings from Europe wassalaam.

    P.S.: Please, please go on with your blog. I think they’re not enough people like you out there – because otherwise, the world would be a more peaceful place.


    • Salaam, La Pacifista! (Nice name choice! I love it!)
      They say to be nice to people, to not speak unless it’s going to be something nice and good, and I think I’m seeing the power in that piece of wisdom just now: from a human to another human, this comment could not have come at a better time 🙂 Thank you for reading, and thank you for your thoughts! God bless you!
      I’m so fortunate to have readers like you and the commenters above who have been not only loyal but have consistently reminded me of the importance of blogging and sharing thoughts because you never know which human out there is coming across it and finds it of use and importance. It’s so wonderful to know.


  5. Reblogged this on lapacifista and commented:
    A poem that refreshed my idea to also start blogging in order to share my ideas with the world and maybe start a change in the mind of a (at this moment, non-existent) reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Salaam,
    Although I am neither Muslim, nor a woman, and actually an ethnic European, this spoke to me. I am however interested in religion and spirituality, and I guess that is how I stumbled upon this blog. I just wanted to say, I have the deepest respect for your words, what you stand for, and your faith. This poem is beautifully written, and it speaks of a beautiful soul. Your feminist cause is, in my eyes, most righteous and exactly what is needed right now, especially in the Muslim word. I hope that in this world, where many just antagonize different interpretations and then proceed to huddle together in their small-mindedness, voices like yours will gain more recognition. Not the voices of ”all-knowing” clerics or their followers, which, compared to your own voice and the voices of those you love, amount to nothing.

    In response to your poem I was reminded of a poem by Hafez, a great Persian poet whom you may know.

    Every child has known God,
    Not the God of names,
    Not the God of don’ts,
    Not the God who ever does
    Anything weird,
    But the God who knows only four words
    And keeps repeating them, saying:
    “Come Dance with Me.
    Come dance.”

    I hope that you will keep on doing your thing, and that you and others will spread this positive vision.
    Greetings from the Netherlands, and Khodahafez.


    • Dear Hickas,
      Thank you for your comment and for your generous words!
      There are certain things about humans and life that transcend cultural, religious, and other boundaries, and a longing for tolerance and respect for all is one of them. As is, perhaps, I have learned, for many, many people, a desire to connect with a Higher Being whom we conceive of in different ways.

      I do know and very much love Hafez! It delights my heart that he’s so widely celebrated today in so much of the world and that he continues to guide so many people’s vision of love and being. The excerpt you’ve shared is beautiful – and it aligns with my notion of God as well!

      Khuda hafiz 🙂

      ~ Orbala


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