To Her Father

Poetry by | January 13, 2013

English translation of the poem Salaam Bapa, also by the author

Salaam bapa, I have only one niyat in my heart and mind before presenting myself to you.
I come courageously to you, seeking your permission to wed your daughter.
As my parents, Datu Abdul,
Have asked me to do.

Bapa, I would take care of her, feed her, shelter her, and guide her in the straight way to Allah,
For I know that it is the responsibility of any faithful Muslim,
Even if I don’t know her well,
Even if she doesn’t know me well.

Bapa, I know about Az-Zawjan, that we should love each other like the moon and the stars,
Like Prophet Muhammad and Khadidja, or Aisha, or Zaynab did under Allah’s grant,
That we should not allow hunger
Or harm to embrace us.

Bapa, I know about Al-Wali, your authority; that I come here to ask for her hand,
And make her the mother of my sons and daughters in the future,
I submit to your decision and will,
And Allah’s guidance over you.

Bapa, I know about Al-Mahr, that I am willing to offer you the dowry you wish to ask,
For the Prophet has done this to his faithful spouses’ fathers.
May it be in the form of money,
Or in any way Allah has fated.

Bapa, I know about Ash-Shahidan, believers and witnesses of this boundless love,
Who shall stand in their own will; let them be the four brave elders of this society,
Blessed by the Almighty,
As they accept their role.

After these, we shall arrange a ceremony where Al-Izabah wal Qabul shall take place,
Where your acceptance will be heard, to offer your daughter in exchange for the agreed dowry.
Let it be grandiose – inside a huge restaurant.
Or simple – in your house.

We shall invite relatives and friends from places nearby and faraway, and they’ll be welcomed warmly,
For they will eat special treats made by eager women in our place whose labor shall be unpaid
For their will to help is sincere as they make
Amik, dyampok, panyam, agkit, and daral.

And the old umpos, talented grandparents, shall produce wonderful music as they, in one corner,
Shall joyfully play kulintang, agong, and barabad and so, never will the place be soundless,
Except when the ceremony starts,
For even the angels would listen.

I know then, bapa, what to do, but I will never know fully until you allow me.
I know that I, together with my abay, will enter the place and sit on the empty couch on stage.
We will wear white abayas and caps,
As will the boy who will carry the ring.

I know that my ama will be called on stage to hand over the ring, for I’ve already seen this before.
And that you, bapa, shall accept the ring whole-heartedly and ask for the blessing of Allah through du’a.
And Allah shall accept your du’a and bless the ring
For He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

And then everyone will pay attention for I and your daughter will then be wed through you, bapa.
Clasped hands with thumbs together and our right feet touching just as the Prophet did.
While you ask me three times to accept your daughter,
And I will answer, to the sincerest of my heart, I do.

And we, hands still clasped, will both fetch your daughter who has been patiently waiting for our arrival.
We will then let go of each other’s hands and you’ll touch your daughter’s forehead with your thumb
As a sign of your approval,
And so we are formally wedded.

Bapa, I know that together we will walk back to the stage with your daughter and her lovely abays
We will sit together on the couch, seeing the smiles and hearing the cheers from the delighted guests.
And the imam will go up the stage,
Preaching to us about marriage.

And the imam’s final du’a will confirm it all, as though to offer his congratulations to the both of us.
And she might not be that happy, unlike the people around us,
But we would learn soon
How to be happily married, Insha Allah.

Yes my dear bapa, I am familiar to all these, for I have studied in the madrasah for a long time;
Witnessed so many weddings, in our community, of lovely couples. Yes, I know all of these, bapa.
But they will never happen without your consent.
May Allah then help you.

Nassefh Macla is taking up BA English (Creative Writing) in UP Mindanao. He was a fellow for poetry at the Davao Writers Workshop in 2012.

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