Oftentimes I find myself straying,
Praying starts delaying,
Five pillars disobeying,
Years of Iman and Islamic school decaying,
What is this game I’m playing, when trying to find my purpose,
But it ain’t even worth it,
When you’re walking right into that furnace, and all that you mumble under your breath is lip service.
Going through motions but don’t know what to believe in,
Faith fickle like the weather or the seasons,
What’s my path, give me a reason,
Is saying that a call for treason?
All these questions float around at night,
Refusing to take flight but rather they ignite,
Self-doubt and concern, insecurities and a yearn, for something,
To fill a void that can’t be filled, but I guess we only here for the cheap thrills.
One might turn to alcohol or booze,
Others might just keep pressing the snooze, button,
Or listen to the blues, binge that food, glutton.
Validation being sought from problematic sources,
Now driven by external voices,
Drawn to this world through gravitational forces.
Push away from the people that could bring me closer to the book,
Because now I’m hooked, to the now that is fantasy,
A video game or a movie parody,
Misplaced worth in currencies and vanities,
Titles on my name, everything’s losing clarity as I move far from the truth,
What I see in the mirror is no longer me, quite frankly, thought I’d be free,
If I forgot my Creator,
But now I’m even more chained to this new dictator,
What happened to my old navigator, that North Star, strayed so far, don’t even know who we are,
As we stare at a reflection in the mirror,
But now it couldn’t be clearer,
This world had now become our keeper.
Realization brings me to seek those words that have not been touched for years,
Struggle with the pronunciation as my eyes roll down those tears,
From fears of an end too near,
Every emotion all too sincere,
As we understand how far we’ve veered.
Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you.
Walk towards me, I will run towards you,
Al Rahman Al Rahim, I subdue before you.
I arrive with a supplication so true,
Please bring me back into your view, for I know I have misconstrued,
I am a runner without shoes.
Years of forgoing the Creator has made me forget,
All the keys I once had to success,
All the times I had been so #blessed,
Here and in the hereafter,
It’s this relationship that is all that matters.
This journey of self-discovery and reflection,
Is for this very connection,
but we are far from perfection,
Requiring much introspection and direction,
Subjected to infection from worldly confections,
But we have been chosen, God’s selection,
To be the humankind, inclined to wavering minds,
Losing sight of the signs,
Walking like we’re blind,
But coming back every time, for we’re on this path that we can’t quit,
to this path I have chosen myself to commit.
The rap above has been written by Faizah Shareef, a student at Boston University’s School of Medicine. As a Muslim woman integrating both the arts and science, I asked her a few questions about what creating art and being a Muslim woman means to her.
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Here’s a quick summary of what Faizah hopes to relay to Muslim women around the world.
Muslim Girl: Why did you start pursuing rap in conjunction with medicine, and what advice do you give to Muslim women who may be criticized for pursuing similar goals?
Faizah Shareef: “Often in my youth, I was pressed to practice faith in a way that was not my own, making me feel as though I did not belong in Islam. I truly struggled believing with my full heart and found myself falling out of love with the religion that once meant so much to me. I could not accept that. So I ventured on my own path to discovery through rap and writing my thoughts to make my experiences much more tangible. I gave a voice to my concerns, and they inevitably became easier to deal with. For Muslim women who may be criticized, I say forget the haters. At the end of the day, the Quran itself is the greatest work of art to have ever existed, so I question those who say that art like that is not allowed in Islam when the very basis of the Book is so deeply rooted in it.”
MG: I understand that you used to attend (and still do at home) the mosque of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shooter. Did that event affect the way you perceive Islamophobia in America and ultimately influence the art you create?
FS: “I think that experience really taught me to take mental health more seriously in my art [and] to help people realize that we all struggle with our identity and who we are; whether we’re good enough and whether we are really worth it. I struggle with understanding the nuances of my identity as an American Muslim every day, an identity that is so novel that it is truly still being developed. I still believe that Muslims all over the world need to do more to dispel the myths that cloud such an Eastern religion, whether that be through dialogue, interfaith discussion or simply a conversation with a friend who asks you why you don’t drink or only eat halal meat. It’s a way of life that is hard for many to wrap their head around, and it’s much easier to fall into categories when we don’t put in the effort to explain or people don’t take the time to ask. And if either one fails to reach out, we both fail in the end.”
For more on Shareef’s art, photography, and rap, follow her Instagram page @neverfaized.