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The farthest mosque
Migration is metaphorical.
My actual body lies somewhere I cannot trace.
Two generations back existed on different soil two
generations back existed on different soil two generations
back existed on different soil
two generations back migration
was never about a body’s movement.
Migration is my inheritance.
Isra. To speak of the first metaphorical migration.
The Prophet Muhammad travelled from Makkah
to Jerusalem on a white winged horse. Buraq
flies a man to lead a lineage of prophets
I would like to kneel in Masjid-al-Aqsa, at the mosque
where the last prophet went, touch
forehead to courtyard dust. Too bad
my passport prohibits me.
Did the Prophet’s body leave Makkah?
Did mine ever exist in Karachi?
A piece of paper stops me nonetheless.
If we place a microscope on Mount Arafat
we’ll see body
upon body, every body
since Adam and Hawa found each other
in the dust storm called Makkah
The Prophet led the last prayers
of his life there in the company of his companions
and every single person born since the first man.
Every body stayed. Only rooh wanders.
Call it soul or spirit or any other English word
that falls short.
rooh, rooh, rooh.
al-Miraj. The second migration.
The self resurrects into a form that is not the body
because the body has never existed.
rooh carried upwards with Jibrail.
rooh can walk but it can’t fly.
The Prophet sees Adam sees Isa sees Yusuf sees Idris sees Harun sees Musa sees Ibrahim
sees Allah. Well, we learn
not in English not in Arabic not in Urdu
nor any human language
do we have a word that is the opposite of body.
We call it rooh. This is inaccurate.
Historical accuracy is inaccurate.
Suleman’s temple did not really ever exist.
It was never truly destroyed.
al-Aqsa has always been a stretch of desert and ice
inhabited by rooh-e-azadi. There is no dome. There is no
brick. Claims to sand and water are tenuous too.
People made of clay and blood
root themselves, uproot others. Whatever people are, they
To lay down my self there
the same as laying it down where my feet currently touch.
This doesn’t explain the paper prohibiting my body
from crossing the threshold.
The Farthest Mosque then is the Farthest Mosque now.
The Prophet is ready to accept fifty prayers a day.
Fifty sets of movement, of aligning
our bodies with each axis of tangible and intangible world.
Fifty becomes five but carries the same weight.
Five crystalline rocks instead of fifty feathers.
Everyone is handsome in their bodilessness.
If I have a chest it will be risky to cut it open
to replace the water molecules in my bloodstream
with Zam Zam.
If all I am is rooh, this is not an issue.
Metaphorical water cleanses metaphorical body makes peace with not existing anywhere.
I worry about where I am now and let
my ancestors worry about where we were.
We share our worries over soil and borders.
I can’t reach some of my ancestors.
Buraq does not care about human walls.
He flies me there.
There’s the first sea that drank my saltwater tears is the first brick of a house is the first grain of sand to escape a desert is the first prophet
on Mount Arafat. After the fall, when the only thing left
was love. After every
seduction and loss
we’re here. I descend the white winged horse.
Manahil Bandukwala is a Pakistani writer and artist currently based in Ottawa. She is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (2019) and Pipe Rose (2018). She is on the editorial team of Canthius, a feminist literary magazine. She was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize, was the 2019 winner of Room magazine’s Emerging Writer Award. Her most recent project is Reth aur Reghistan, a sculptural and literary interpretation of folktales from Pakistan. See more at sculpturalstorytelling.com.