Dear English Tongue

My dreaming language, dear English tongue!

Through Shakespeare you’ve enthralled the old and young

But through imperialism and technology

You’ve left a trail of pain and lethargy

So let me boost your lexis and your art

By using you to praise the Prophet’s heart!

Dear English tongue, Muhammad, peace on him

His miracle was light that shone within

So brilliant and fine his inner light

That Aisha found a needle deep in the night!

Dear English tongue, Muhammad, peace on him

His character was pure, beyond the whim

His miracle was the eloquent Quran

Whose verses still the soul, protect from harm

Dear English tongue, Muhammad, peace on him,

You may ask us, why do we love him?

As when he was accosted by cruel words

He was loving despite the hate he heard

Dear English tongue, you may think this rather odd

But through Muhammad, you will reach The Only God

The Only One, that people in the West

Think is a myth and their English tongue knows best

But English tongue, know this I do beseech

That every word exists through Allah’s speech…

And Peace and Blessings on Muhammadan!

From Edinburgh, and Cardiff and London!

Oscar Wilde Meets Ahmed Al Alawi

In my imaginings, in 1893

Oscar Wilde meets Ahmed Al Alawi

Wilde is on a search for a harem

With Lord Alfred in the streets of Mostaganem

Then above the town, a tempest tossed

Wilde can’t see his lover; Alfred is lost

And in the churning rain, Wilde sees a light

Emanating from a house there on the right

He bounds towards it, thinking of Alfred

Where has my lover gone? He frets and dreads.

And so he enters this humble abode

A simple dwelling glimmering on the road

The door is left ajar; richly shines sunlight

Strange, he thinks, at this time of night

He enters, wondering of this strange sun

Hidden within this house, how is this done?

Then in a room, sitting still, upright

Oscar sees a man encircled by light

A soft white turban crowning his head

And skinny as a rake, he’s hardly fed

But strange! O strange! The sunlight in his face

Somehow in this room from outer space!

Wilde intrigued, now speaks to him in French

Here is a translation of their sense

Wilde begins: “Why greetings my dear fellow!

I have a problem I want to let you know!”

“Welcome my friend,” proclaims Al Alawi

A far look in his eyes, his voice friendly.

Wilde erupts: “I’ve lost my loving friend

Somewhere within this storm; around the bend

I cannot live whilst he is there exposed

And I am safe in separation’s throes

But tell me my dear man what of this light

Which rises like the sun in this dire night?”

Shaykh Al Alawi with piercing eyes

“It is the light of One,” he just replies

“Who or what is One? What do you mean?”

Oscar speaks and more he is intrigued.

“The Presence Absolute; the Only Light

The One True Being shines right through my sight”

Speaks Al Alawi, with overwhelming peace

Oscar thinks- this is nothing like our priests…

“How do I find this light of which you speak?

How do I feel this Oneness so to speak?”

Al Alawi replies: “You must divest

From love of things and people that transgress

The sacred law and balance of the earth

Then you’ll feel this light which comes from birth.”

Oscar Wilde dismisses and decries:

“How can you say that, don’t you understand

I love Sir Alfred though he be a man

And isn’t love what makes the planets turn

How can you censure me as my heart burns?”

“You asked me how to realise the Light

It’s up to you to do what you think right

If you can shun aside love of this world

Everywhere you step, you’ll find a pearl

If you can say the Name on everything

From name to Named you’ll shift, you’ll soar with wings

When He who’s Named effulges through your heart

His love will radiate; and fears depart

His light will shine through you as will the meanings

The sensory will no longer be deceiving

But if you seek Him, you must sacrifice

This love you hold for people of this life

So purge the love of him whom you adore

And filter it upon the sacred law.”

Oscar says: “dear sir how can I seal

This love I feel for him, for me it’s real.

How can I live with authenticity?

If I deny this love inside of me?”

“Well brother,” replies Shaykh Al Alawi

“For me there’s only one reality

Which scintillates the eyes of our true hearts

Which highlights truth and falsehood so apart

For me the ocean merges in the drops

For me the One illumines, and never stops

For me, I read the Name on everything

And every person until there is nothing

And now through Him I live as you can see

So choose the temporal or infinity…”

The tempest ebbs and now the sky is clear

Oscar Wilde now finds this man so queer

“Thanks for your time, dear sir,” and off he goes

In the distance, Alfred waves and glows

In the house, Al Alawi just prays

The Names of Him reveal and interplay

The Mureed Of Sorts Who Took His Sufi Shaykh To Court!

Once there was a bold mureed of sorts

Who went and took his sufi shaykh to court!

He stood before the judge with indignation

The shaykh stood in the docks with resignation

“So what’s your case?” began the magistrate

As jury, public, media stood in wait:

“Dear judge,” began the bold mureed of sorts

“By this man I was guided, helped and taught

But now I’ve realised, he is of no use!

As he has subjected me to spiritual abuse!”

“Describe in detail your experience,”

The judge advised with this august appearance:

“Well,” said the mureed, “Let me start with this

He made me give my own ego the miss!

He forced me to reduce my reputation

By begging in the streets with humiliation

Then he said that I would be inspired

If I gave up my ego’s deep desires.”

The mureed wept, tears streaming down his face

He looked up to the judge: “Sorry your grace.”

“So what was the result?” enquired the judge

“Well here’s the crux of my permitted grudge

This sufi shaykh committed heresy

By making me forego my agency

He forced me to ingest unearthly wine

Which he said had appeared from the divine

And then I lost all concept of my self

All I could see was light and heavenly wealth

I was imprisoned in the malakut

Where angels served my needs all to my suit

But here’s the worst reality you see

All I could see was Him; nowhere was me!”

The mureed opened his indignant eyes

And stared around the court in great surprise

For judge and jury looking rather guilty

Now stood before the shaykh swearing their fealty!

The judge said: “dear mureed, you got us thinking

I think we’ll have what you have just been drinking!”

Mobeen Hood and the Crooked Pir

Pir Sikandar was a Gaddi Nasheen 

Who had more properties than Her Majesty the Queen 

Every Friday in his local mosque 

He gathered copious funds like a hungry fox 

Rupees from poor and rich whatever the vibe 

And to his TV channel, all, they must subscribe 

And if any of his followers decried 

“The curse of God on misers!” He would cry.  

His house was more a palace than khanqah 

For driving, he would cruise around in sports cars 

While most of his mureeds got by in rickshaws 

And most lived in crowded flats and on one floor 

But amongst all these, there was a wild malang 

With the honey bees of Love, he had been stung 

This roaming dervish, he was called Mobeen 

His face looked rough- his heart was most serene 

He loved some stories, but one he thought was good 

Was about the Merry men and Robin Hood! 

One night to God, he cried and he implored: 

“I will perform one thing that Thou deplores 

I’ll steal the funds hidden in Sikandar’s stores 

And rob the rich to benefit the poor!” 

So, in the night, whilst Sikandar was asleep 

Mobeen he lurked outside with just a creep 

He slipped into the tomb of Sikandar’s Dada 

And there he spoke with ecstasy to the spirit of this Baba 

From there he took some treasures and some light 

And distributed it throughout the night 

Sikandar’s followers awoke feeling so rich 

With hidden Oneness lights, no more they itched 

Then on that Friday, when Sikandar came to rule 

Despite his retinue, he looked a total fool 

Because to his infuriating surprise 

No one had turned up to pray in the lines 

“Where are my followers? Where are they indeed?” 

He stormed at his most gullible mureed 

So, then they searched and drove along the roads 

To each and every disciple’s abode 

And everywhere they went they couldn’t fathom 

That each mureed they met was now bedazzled 

With priceless, wealthy lights around their head 

And public crowds following in their stead 

The last they met was none other than Mobeen 

Who wore the jewels of love brighter than the Queen: 

Sikandar cried: “Mobeen for goodness sake! 

I thought I was supposed to be the shaykh! 

And now all those who once would follow me 

Each one has turned into a boundless sea!” 

Mobeen said: “O dear pir I must confess 

I robbed the lights hidden within your chest 

That you have locked away in your darbar 

And now your way of life from this is far 

Like Robin Hood I stole from one who’s rich 

With ancestors who gave their nafs the ditch 

I shared their lights with those who are deserving 

As you have ignored things that need preserving.” 

Pir Sikandar, wealthy Gaddi Nasheen 

Proclaimed in shame: “O God, what have I been!” 

And there and then he chose he would repent 

And gave away his riches then off he went 

Roaming the roads like one who’s on a search 

Because his love for God has gone berserk 

He left Mobeen to take his rightful place 

As the sincere pir; as the real shaykh 

And that’s the story of old Mobeen Hood 

And Pir Sikandar who changed all for the good! 

Notes:  

Gaddi Nasheen- inheritor/son of previous Pir or Shaykh (spiritual leader/holy man) and assumes his position in the community 

Mureed- followers of spiritual leader 

Malang- deranged, spiritual aspirant with strange powers 

Baba- old shaykh, pir / old man 

Dada- grandfather from father’s side 

Darbar- grave of spiritual leader/holy person 

The Ma’rifa Barber

It was a sweltering August weekend on Ilford Lane; the high street was teeming with beaming, movie star faces, inching along in gleaming, convertible sports cars and booming bass lines. The shops and markets on either side were thronging with customers, laden with designer bags and baklava boxes, like rows of ants heaving a booty of sugar lumps along a kitchen floor. Wedding season was in full flow. As were the plethora of barbers and salons along the lane: Asian, Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Somali, male, female, retro, traditional, high-brow, cheap and cheerful. It seemed as if everyone had decided to get their special trims or facials on this day. It wasn’t unusual today to see queues extending out of every barber shop and salon and, consequently, tempers were beginning to fray; nerves were itching; patience was fizzling in the heat.

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RAMADAN QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

“Not even any water!?”

They ask with such surprise

“No food or drink for a whole month!?”

They gawk with flaring eyes

“Do babies have to fast as well?”

“What about if your pregnant?”

“What if you’ve got your GCSEs?”

“What if you’re adolescent?”

“Do your parents lock the fridge

And ban you from Tescos?”

“Do you swallow your saliva?”

“Are you banned from discos?”

“Can I eat a pork sarnie

Before you while you’re fasting?”

“Will an angel strike you down

With judgement everlasting?”

No food or drink indeed dear friend,

But only during daytime

Babies of course do not do fasts

Pregnant women can decline

Teenagers do observe the fast

Not younger than juveniles

Females don’t fast during menses

We eat when lamps materialise

Fasting in your GCSEs

Inspires concentration

The fridge is packed with iftar food

No disco, but meditation

You may eat your pork sarnie

Before me quite contentedly

But dang and drat! I just swallowed

Some milkshake accidentally!

I’m Better Than Him

I’m better than him

It’s in the genes

Khalaqtanee min naarin

Wa khalaqtahu min teen

I’m better than him

It’s in the genes

He drives a bus

I got a PHD.

I’m better than him

It’s in the genes

He hails from the third world

I’m related to the Queen.

I’m better than her

It’s in the genes

She grew up in a flat

I was raised with prestige.

I’m better than her

It’s in the genes

Her father is a guard

My father’s a marine.

We’re better than them

It’s in the genes

We’re a civilised folk

Their culture’s obscene.

We’re better than them

It’s in the genes

Our race has evolved

Their race is naive.

I’m better than him

It’s in the genes

Khalaqtanee min naarin

Wa khalaqtahu min teen

(Chorus based on Quranic verses: Suratul A’raf/Chapter of The Heights- 7:12: The devil’s explanation to Allah about not bowing to Adam (as): “I am better than him; You created me from fire, while You created him from clay.”)

Morning Full Moon

Morning full moon, today
Over the ruins and roads
Morning full moon, this hour
Over the cordoned land
Morning full moon, my love
Can’t take my eyes off you
What do you so magnetize?
In the dawning blue?
Over the steel cumbersome bird
Moving in straight lines
Over the restless, swerving larks
In your gaze, benign
Crossing the road I miss you
Then in between the homes
Morning full moon, you shine
You radiate alone
Can’t take my heart from you
Don’t want to go inside
Morning full moon your soul
A perfect one sublime
In the shores of the ebbing night
Your face a haunting show
But in the red rising vista
I’m taken by your glow
Morning full moon find me
When I’m lost in my nights
Morning full moon guide me
When hatred clouds my sight
Morning full moon stir me
When I’m engrossed in fear
Morning full moon touch me
So I can feel you near…

The Day The Poles Met

By Novid Shaid, January, 2009

One day the four poles met: the north, the south, the east and the west. They gathered and communed, in the sanctified city of Jerusalem, amazingly calm and dynamic; elusive but intimate; separate but conjoined; utterly silent while resonating; invisible to many, while manifest to the few.

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