A Man Who Prays with His Gun
I wanted to write a Galkaiyo story about goats in a mosque, about a man walking into that same mosque with his AK-47, setting it down before him to pray, and how I’d look back a few years later, thinking: “Did you come to pray for the sake of Allah or are you worshipping that gun?” In hindsight, I realize that one must defend one’s life whenever possible. Just because you walk into a mosque with a gun doesn’t mean you’ll kill everyone inside it. It means you want to live, while living in a country where life is ever in question. In Islam, we are taught to put our full trust in Allah. In Somalia, you trust Allah, but you also trust your gun because you can’t always afford to trust your neighbor. You maintain faith in a pre-determined time for your death, but you also stay strapped. I just want to live.
Goats walk into mosques, you know. Goats also press themselves against the sunbaked walls of houses and fall asleep standing against the chipping paint. I always imagined that they were praying to Allah in their own way. It could be that they were just resting, but Allah knows best. I like the stories in my head better than the apparent reality before me. Stories are more exciting than reality. Reality makes me sleepy. Makes me want to get under the covers, makes me weepy. OK, Diary. That’s all for now. I have to get dressed and pretend to be some kind of professional; some kind of wonderful. Some sort of African Extraordinaire. I’m just tryna make it, dawg. Like a man who prays with his gun. Like a goat eating cardboard under the Somali sun.
Said Farah is a writer based in Minneapolis, MN. He is a 2018 Alum of the VONA / Voices Workshop for Writers of Color. His work is in conversation with third-culture writers who’ve struggled to explore questions of identity, place, and belonging. He exists at the intersection of multiple identities and writing is a way for him to parse the natural conflicts which arise from those multiplicities. He works as a medical interpreter, is completing the last year of a BA – Creative Writing degree, and will be attending the University of Minnesota MFA program in Fall 2019.
Cover Photo by Marc Leblanc
Beautiful juxtaposition of images. Thank you for this thoughtful piece.