I’m An English Teacher Muslim Man!

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Listen and wail Tommy Robinson

Have a stiff drink Lee Anderson

And run Katie Hopkins! Run as fast as you can!

I’m an English Teacher Muslim man…

I’m your worst nightmare; I’m a living curse

When you hear my words, living may turn worse

For 24 years and around six months

Through the cold seasons and the worldly slumps

In the day I have read the rhythms of Blake

To the kids, for exams that they have to take

But before the glory of the rising sun

After sunset falling, equilibrium

I have prayed like the way of the Taliban

I’m an English Teacher Muslim man!

Run, run- get Prevent as fast as you can

I’m an English teacher Muslim man…

I have read Shakespeare with the children rapt

Then in lunch I have read the Quran resting in my lap

I’m an English teacher bewitched by the words

From the English-speaking literary world

But there’s also something you must understand

I’m an English teacher Muslim man…

Run, run-tell Michael Gove as fast as you can

I’m an English teacher Muslim man…

You may think I’m an oxymoron fiend

The anti-thesis of your Union dreams

I don’t fit in your ‘uz and them’ story

Coz I live the Quran but I teach poetry

I wasn’t conceived and born outside

In the Royal Bucks hospital, I did cry!

Just a stone-throw away from Vernon Scannell

I was raised in Aylesbury near the canal

At school with Catholics I did sing

And performed as the king in Rumpelstilskin

I was good at writing stories-grand

I’m an English teacher Muslim man

You say that Islam does not belong here

But signs of Allah are everywhere

Every breath I’ve taken whilst on this land

I have followed the Sharia, like the desert sands!

I have said my prayers; I have given my alms

I have fasted the month of Ramadan

I have made jihad with my English words

In the local earth are my elders interred

I took unpaid leave to perform the Hajj

But I’ve learned from Tybalt: don’t hold a grudge!

From Inspector Goole to care and share

And from Mary Shelley hubris beware!

And from Dr Jekyll, duplicity

And from Scrooge: goodwill’s felicity

But the Holy Quran is my motherland

I’m an English teacher Muslim man

Run, run, call Trump as fast as you can

I’m an English teacher Muslim man

So Tommey and Katie, Boris and friends

Where do you think this is going to end?

The only thing you can possibly do

Is to throw me out with the vindaloo!

That won’t solve the teacher shortage of course

And there’s thousands more like me in force!

My wife was a teacher, worked in schools

In my tribe, three doctors work, so cool

My brother and brothers-in-law experts

In IT infrastructure they work

There are psychologists, directors, nurses

Mid-wives, lawyers, and taxi hearses!

Some of my friends run eateries

Some run buses and late taxis

We have ripened on these streets right here

Will you throw us all out into the thin air?

Perhaps if you spent some time with us

You would realise there is not much fuss

We are much alike; we have differences

But there is some chance that we all can live

We are bound to Palestine, the free

You are bound to Israel’s dynasties

There is much to hate, but there’s much to learn

The Joker’s the one- wants the world to burn

You seek to be true to the ones like you

We seek to be true to our God so true

So beware things may go out of hand

I’m an English teacher Muslim man

You carry on loving your old St George

Have a good knees up, praise the Lord!

Carry on praising King and Queen

But careful Boris don’t be obscene

We’re not here to possess your ancestral lands

The earth’s is God’s, do you understand?

And Douglas Murray: we’re not weaselling through,

You need us just as we need you…

So, I leave you just in case you’ve not heard

The very first word of the Quran’s World

Read, read, as deeply as you can

I’m an English teacher Muslim man

(See Video on the Video Section)

Monster At the Office

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I work in an office, probably like the one that many of you also work in. Row upon row of shining desks, kitted with personal computers, flat-screen monitors, swivel chairs, post-it notes; surrounded by notice boards, weekly targets, coffee machines, softly humming recessed troffer lights, matrixed carpets, whitewash walls; topped off with the larger rooms of our directors and team managers, divided off with glass at the end. Where the blinds are sometimes drawn… Where the big decisions take place… Where you dread being called to… Depending on your productivity levels of course!

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Remains

For Armitage and Duffy

I’m not a soldier, suffering from war

No poet laureate champions my cause

I’m an Iraqi fellah, or trader

Or a young Gazan girl or baker

I’m an imam or a seeker of truth

Or a spent mother spurned from a camp roof

No special words remark what remains

Of my shattered country and shuddering frame

No empathetic, humanising verse

Speak of the time when our lives got worse.

Fine documentaries, carefully crafted

Fresh books of poetry, with publishers grafted

Capture the war photographer’s pain

And the soldiers who left our dwellings in flames

But none do observe that my heart is cleft

From the visceral horror of my sisters’ deaths

No thoughtful sonnets, nor ottava rimas

Conceive that drones are just terrible screamers

No stirring voltas turn on the lights

When the voltage runs out in the sinister nights

My world’s turning red, and the room grows dark

And nothing remains but my simmering heart

But here’s a secret that exists in lieu

A Nobel prize or a gallery view

Me and my people. we live and breathe

Live and breathe like you’ll never believe

Our soil sings our praise and the skies, they cheer

The ink may dry up, but we will remain here…

(check out Simon Armitage’s poem, Remains, and Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, War Photographer. Both in GCSE English literature anthologies)

TYRANTS, OLIGARCHIES, BOAT THIEVES AND THE TISSUE SWEPT FROM UNDER THEIR STORMY HISTORY LESSONS!

The power of Romanticism, radicalism, anti-racism, and the urge for human survival imbue the Power poems in Power and Conflict Cluster of the AQA anthology for GCSE English Literature

An article and commentary on the Power poems from the Power and Conflict cluster of the AQA GCSE English Literature course to assist in revision for GCSE students

Powerful spectres, phantasms and shadows lurk in the power cluster poems, which conjure images of abject human polities before awesome, tyrannical figures. Shelley, the radical; the anti-authoritarian poet, evokes a fictional representation of Rameses the Second, “king of kings” whose “sneer of cold command” and “wrinkled lip” conjure a portrait of a cruel, tyrannical leader. Blake, the visionary, composes a bleak vision of an impoverished London population, who “cry”, “sigh” and “curse” the shadowy oligarchies of the monarchy, the church, the government and ruling society who imprison them through bans, “chartered streets”, child labour, prostitution, and exploitation. Browning, some decades later, explores the egoistic, supremacist mind of a fictional Duke of Ferrara in My Last Duchess. Through the dramatic monologue, and through supreme understatement and euphemistic expressions (“I gave commands/ And all smiles stopped”), Browning horrifies us with this man, who kills off his duchess as he deems her love of life dishonourable and her carefree attitude an insult to his rank and status (“My gift of a nine hundred years old name”).

So far, the power poems caution us on the follies of human arrogance, hubris and corruption.

We see the futility of Ozymandias’s self-worship through the enduring supremacy of time and nature. His memory, in Shelley’s imagination, is but a “Half sunk, shattered visage”. The powerful elites in London fail or even refuse to perceive their abuse of power and their unjust privileges, which deafen them to the struggles of the poor. Blake’s sensory evocations of “sighs”, cries, curses, “blasts” and “marks of weakness” perhaps foreshadow the coming centuries of working-class uprisings, the development of democracy and the disintegration of pyramidal societal structures. We are being warned of an oncoming storm of human uprisings.

A storm also consumes Heaney’s imagination, but he conveys a sense of survival and equilibrium in his islanders, who have learned to weather the tempests of nature, and perhaps the Northern Ireland troubles. Heaney’s islanders, with a sense of solidarity, prepare for the winds as they have built their houses “squat” and roofed their houses with “good slate”. For these islanders, they have come to a realisation that it is “a huge nothing that [they] fear”. Gone are tyrants, the despots and barons on this island, and now they learn as a polity how to survive through the inevitable storms of life, and power of nature.

Wordsworth, sharing his anecdote as a young boat thief in the Lake District, reveals an unforgettable and paradigm-shifting encounter with the power of nature and the human imagination. His narrator’s youthful escapade with the “elvin pinnace” begins with a euphonic promise: “small circles glittering idly in the moon” and “one track of sparkling light”. But the “huge peak / black and huge”, the immense physical presence of the mountain, and symbolically, nature’s spirit and imagination, haunts him, stalking him back to shore. Until all that is left is “huge and mighty forms” which are a “trouble to his dreams”. In this, Wordsworth encounters a supreme power that we perhaps should not rally against, like Ozymandias and the Duke. Instead it is a force that we must come to terms with and bow to with a degree of respect: the unearthly power of nature and the imagination.

The imagination and particularly memories and history drive Carol Rumens and John Agard in their poems to speak out against the spectres of racism and exile. Carol Rumens narrator is an emigree or an exile, who faces hostility in their new city, whilst being drawn back to the “impressions of sunlight”, the “tastes” and the “evidence” of sunlight of their native city. Despite their city being “sick with tyrants” and accusations of being “dark” in their adopted city, this narrator cannot avoid seeing the daylight of their memories, in stark contrast to the figures of degradation in Blake’s London. Rumen’s oppressed wanderer possesses a power of will and survival through their turmoil.

Agard’s voice also speaks with a passionate pride for his Black history and his resignation and mockery of “Dem tell me / Wha dem want to tell me”. His voice acknowledges the suffocation of his history through the supremacy of  Western education, but now is standing firmly against this bias and is “carving out [his] own identity”. Now we can see power structures fading behind the rising spirits of historically oppressed voices and communities. 

And finally, the rug, or should we say, the tissue, or the paper is pulled from under the feet of all these power structures through Dharker’s musings upon the power of tissues, and how they can “let the daylight break through capitals and monoliths / through shapes that pride can make”, through egoistic statues, through covetous paintings, through palaces, through the corridors power and history books. Human tissue, for Dharker, is both vulnerable and, like paper, “thinned to be transparent” which raise structures that are at peace with their mortality, with nature and with the human soul.

ISLAMOPHOBIA IS NOT A THING TO DWELL UPON

Listen here dear Muslims!
Align your selves to God
Islamophobia is not
A thing to dwell upon
And listen here dear people
Of faiths or of non-faiths
Our job is to explain to you
There’s none except His Face
If you don’t take our calling
Well that is your freedom
There’s no compulsion in belief
God rules His whole kingdom
It’s not for us to judge you
There’s only One True Judge
So, you worship the gods you like
There’s no need for a grudge
But God tells us: ‘Don’t worship
No other gods but Me
If you choose to forsake My Words
None can save you from Me….’
So dear Muslims don’t worry
Or fret about cruel words
Islamophobia will pull you
From the beauty of His Words
Focus on the One Presence
Like Prophets of the past
The people of their times were worse
And looked at them, aghast
Noah was cursed and slighted
Moses was shunned and scorned
Jonah felt down and left his town
Mary was left forlorn
There always will be those ones
Who don’t accept Allah
They will see you as trojan horses
Plotting to cause them harm
So stand tall like the Prophets
Don’t fret that they curse you
Crying Islamophobia
Will not calm or soothe you
Shed light like Our Muhammad
Peace be upon him well
The more that people hate on you
Let Divine Love swell
For some this world’s a treasure
For some: heaven and hell
For some this world is such a pain
For some this world just smells
For true life is hereafter
That’s why you should not dwell
On their Islamophobia
Or mistreatment so fell
I don’t say be a doormat
I don’t say be passive
Protect your rights and learn to fight
But live and learn to forgive
So Muslims don’t you worry
Of Islamophobia
And people of all other ways
Shun xenophobia
We’re not so strange or scary
What we believe is ancient
We echo our father Adam
And our mother so patient
We will persist in saying
That God is only one
We will recite His holy book
And read the moon and sun
We do not worship your gods
You do not worship ours
But our origins are one and the same
We’re from the same flowers
Peace be upon Muhammad
And blessings on his friends
And be upon him family
And close ones till the end….

A Response to Katherine Birbalsingh

Dear Katharine,

I hate to sound like one of those preachers

But I’m a local English secondary teacher

Have been one for more than twenty years

And in every school I’ve taught, I’ve said my prayers

My zohr, asr and my dear maghrib

Whilst teaching the Destruction of Sennacherib!

And here’s a thing I hope you will not fear

Some students have prayed with me, laissez-faire!

The daily prayers have always lifted students

The ones I’ve seen have always been quite prudent

So, my advice to you before I depart

Is don’t break off your students from their hearts

The prayer for Muslims, like a flowing river

That we bathe in, it lets the soul just shiver

If you think that the kids are immature

Then surely there are staff you can implore

Or elders who can guide them while they pray

Who’ll help them to explore enriching ways

Your secular mission is oxymoronic

You seek to thrive with rules which are pharaonic

You can’t divorce a child from their deep roots

Exam results are not true learning’s fruits

So let these children be, and see their faiths

The real world is there beyond school gates…

When the CEO fell for the Majzoob

This story will confound you through and through

A CEO fell for a poor majzoob

She was the founder of a beauty brand

He lived on streets and hung around the strands

She worked so hard to build her own empire

The presence of Allah his only desire

She’d made enough money for long lifetimes

He slept in rags whilst witnessing the Divine

She had been scarred by handsome parasites

His only fear to lose dear Allah’s sight

And so one day, next to the riverbank

The CEO strolled by, with workers flanked

And so along this path, the majzoob staggered

Drunk with Allah, and looking rather haggard

These two conundrums met by the streaming water

The CEO took off her sunglasses and faltered

And though the crazy guy appeared offensive

She saw in his deep eyes a beauty intensive

Taken aback by wonder so supreme

Which shone in eyes that never touched eye cream

Inside a voice said to her, “He’s the one…”

And she was drawn like moths unto the sun

Discarding all her aides and pompery

She said to him: “you’re the one for me!”

The majzoob stilled himself and shook his head

Then chose to give her some advice instead:

“You’ll never find true peace in just a man…

Flee to Allah and take Mustafa’s kind hands

I’m not the one; Allah is One, you see…

Through Him be rich, and vanish in His seas…”

And whilst these two engaged in reverie

An aide piped up: “are such positions open for me?”

When I Went To Palestine

I was guided somehow and the year was 2000

My heart had grown dark by desires

But then the deep hole was lit up in my soul

When I went to Palestine

We moved through the cordons of Israel and Jordan

The border staff grilled us in lines

This moment a fear grew that we would not get through

When I went to Palestine

But worry’s a killer, and Alhamdulillah

Our way was freed by the Divine

Off we embarked on a cab from the car park

When I went to Palestine

We checked in a hotel near where the Arabs dwell

Jerusalem East and sublime

And something beyond called to us with a song

When I went to Palestine

So ancient and pretty endured the old city

We walked as if under a spell

The sun seemed to rise as we came to the climb

When I went to Palestine

Above the roofs rose the clear golden dome

My heart rent apart and just sighed

The closer we got so our fears we forgot

When I went to Palestine

We came to a guard gate, met these eyes full of pure hate

But the other was friendly and fine

The Israeli guard scanned, the Palestinian shook our hands

When I went to Palestine.

It felt so distinct in the sacred precinct

The blue walls, the dome hit our eyes

Al Aqsa in view, like an emerald, a jewel

When I went to Palestine

Our tears were unblocked at the Dome of the Rock

And it felt like we floated in time

At maghrib, enthralled, resting up to the walls

When I went to Palestine

And fajr heavenly in masjid Al Qibli

We met a Shaykh with glowing eyes

He gave us some mint tea, blessed hospitality

When I went to Palestine

The next day we risked it and just took the biscuit

To Hebron we both set out eyes

We felt the appeal of pure Al Khaleel

When I went to Palestine

A young man he helped us, along there he guided us

To get to the mosque in good time

But he was debarred by the colonial guards

When I went to Palestine

The wrongs they increase and the thoughts will not cease

But the beauty remains in the mind

Your heart feels at home, your soul’s free to roam

When you go to Palestine

Strange Meeting on the Gaza March in London on November 11th

For Owen

It seemed that from the march I escaped

Down some tunnel, with mouth agape

Scooped through the hazy granite of time

Deep into the annals of past years, hopes sublime

Yet there, sleeping soundly as cherubim

Lay men of merit who’d seen times so grim

Those unknown faces who once in the past

Had laid their lives without much questions asked

For country, duty, and for freedom of good

And of them now a line of sleepers stood

Before me, all my grandfathers of yore

Who’d bravely fought in all these Western wars

And at the front there stood a man of charm

My own grandfather an honourable Khan

“Strange indeed it is,” I said, pensive

“That for a foreign land your life you’d give…”

My grandfather, he looked me in the eye

“My son,” he said, with a knowing, wistful sigh,

“My own father, my cousins and my elders

We served so that our families would be sheltered,

And we fought hard and firm for the British Raj

Not fleeing from a skirmish or barrage

And so eventually I settled in England

I wore my medal ribbons and I mingled

I bore a family in old Birmingham

And now you stand here with a plate of jam!

But listen here, these words, I speak in truth

Never would we fight for this, forsooth,

For selling the poor soul of Jerusalem

And purging that land of Bethlehem

Never would we stand with such disaster

As bleeding dry the children of young Gaza

The enemy they kill are young and free

Who now lay cold, were loath to leave early

Alas us men at arms we had no such choice

So for those children indeed raise your voice…”

We Need Peace In The Middle East

We need peace in the Middle East

We need peace with an immediate ceasefire at least

We need peace from the aerial bombings at least

We need peace from the indiscriminate killings at least

We need peace from killing mostly civilians at least

We need peace from the chemical and nuclear weapons-and of course from the rockets at least

From the tanks, the infantry, and the white phosphorous at least

We need peace in the Middle East

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