Nazeeh Abu Afash: God The Infidel (From Arabic)

Nazeeh Abu Afash is a self-descibed Arab Christian Atheist profoundly concerned with God as an idea, and deeply influenced by the book of Job. The poem here translated may be read as updating the voice of Job for the modern condition, and also taking God down a notch. 

God the Infidel
By Nazeeh Abu Afash
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Arabic 

O god! Tell me the truth!
My enemies say:
    "Everyone wants to..." et cetera
And the enemies of my enemies say:
    "Everyone wants to...." et cetera.
As for me, since you created every one and everyone,
I still - resting assured of your immaculacy and justice -
Raise my hand
Like a schoolchild threatened with expulsion
But as ever
Get nobody's permission to say anything

My god, O my god!
You, god of worms and vegetation, of cattle and all weeping creatures...
Could you have been messing with me?*
What everybody says means there's an everybody that knows the truth
       and another everybody that knows another truth.
What everybody says means that I do not exist
What everybody says means that nobody but everybody exists
What they say means
      That you were messing with me.  

*Full disclosure: The expression ḍaħika ˁalā normally means "deride, make fun of" but it can, depending on, context also mean "to kid (someone), to pull (someone's) leg" as in the phrase ˁalā man taḑħak? "Who do you think you're kidding? What're you trying to pull?" In this context "mess with" rather than, say,  "make fun of" seemed called for, both to bring the Jobian implications out fully, and because one of Abu Afash's favorite tactics (one especially on display here) involves subverting the lofty by casting it in un-lofty and often flippant terms. "Mess with" seemed the most appropriate, connotatively more than denotatively, for what Abu Afash seems to have been trying to accomplish (I decided against the option of "screw with" since, while Abu Afash often inclines toward approximations of colloquial language, this seemed like overkill in a number of ways.)      


The Original:

الله الكافر
نزيه ابو عفش

الهي! قل لي الحقيقة!
اعدائي يقولون: 
    "الناس كلهم يريدون ان..." الى آخره
وأعداء اعدائي يقولون: 
"الناس كلهم يريدون ان...." الى آخره.
أما أنا، منذ أن خلقت كلهم وكلم،
فلا أزال - مطمئنّاً إلى نزاهتك وعدلك- 
أرفع اصبعي الى فوق
كما يفعل تلميذ مهدد بالطرد
لكن، على الدوام، 
لا احد يأذن لي أن اقول شيئاً

الهي! يا الهي!
إله الديدان والنباتات والبهائم والكائنات الباكية
أتكون قد ضَحِكْت عليّ؟
ما يقوله الجميعُ يعني أن ثمّةَ "جميعا" على حقّ
و"جميعا" آخرُ على حقٍّ آخر.
ما يقوله الجميع يعني أنني لست موجودا.
ما يقوله الجميع يعني ألّا وجودَ لأحدٍ غير الجميع.
ما يقولونه يعني


أنك ضحكت عليّ

Romanization:

Allāhu l-Kāfir

Ilāhī! Qul lī l-ħāqīqa
Aˁdā'ī yaqūlūn: 
"Al-nāsu kulluhum yurīdūna an..." ilā āxirih
Wa-'aˁdā'u aˁdā'ī yaqūlūn:
"Al-nāsu kulluhum yurīdūna an..." ilā āxirih.
Ammā anā, munðu an xalaqta kullahum wa-kullahum,
Fa-lā azālu - muṭma'innan ilā nazāhatika wa-ˁadlik
Arfaˁu iṣbaˁī ilā fawq
Kamā yafˁalu tilmīðun muhaddadun bi-l-ṭard
Lākin, ˁalā l-dawām
Lā aħada ya'ðinu lī an aqūla šay'an. 

Ilāhī! Yā ilāhī!
Ilāha l-dīdāni wa-l-nabātāti wa-l-bahā'imi wa-l-kā'ināti l-bākiya
A-takūnu qad ḍaħikta ˁalayya?
Mā yaqūluhū l-jamīˁu yaˁnī anna θammata "jamīˁan" ˁalā ħaqqi
Wa-"jamīˁan" āxara ˁalā ħaqqin āxar.
Mā yaqūluhū l-jamīˁu yaˁnī annanī lastu mawjūdan.
Mā yaqūluhū l-jamīˁu yaˁnī allā wujūda li-'aħadin ɣayra l-jamīˁ
Mā yaqūlūnahū yaˁnī

Annaka ḍaħikta ˁalayya

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