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Poem: Sustenance…

by in Ramadan on 28th May, 2019

When the ninth new moon of the year is sighted –

still mewling after her rebirth,

praise be to the Lord above her –

yes, her pain is felt in a billion of the souls

her light falls upon.

but so too is her strength, the celestial kind,

gladly lent to her by the moon’s starlit companions,

whose beauty is in the hope they emanate

as much as the way they are scattered across the heavens,

to guide us all.

it’s the kind of fortitude that keeps

a believer on her feet in a crowded carriage

on the Tube on the way home from work

(wondering how she can keep going

impatiently tucking stray strands of hair

back into her hijab);

the bravery that burns on

in the heart of a university student

who walks into exam hall

after exam hall,

perhaps not with her head held high

(for that is not the battle

she is fighting this morning)

yet she is still armed with knowledge,

with facts and figures and theories,

with opinions upon which she will mould her own,

in ways that – unbeknownst to her or anyone, really,

except the angels on her shoulders and the Lord they answer to –

will one day change the world;

the moon’s smile, too, is felt on the believer’s lips

when the sun begins his descent,

sinking into the horizon at long last,

and a tired mother murmurs a supplication before

her son hands her a glass of water

that can pass through those lips once more;

and on his lap is his daughter, barely a year old,

who gleefully pops a date in her mother’s mouth.

the call to prayer, when it comes,

is never more welcomed than at sunset

during this time of year –

even those without the obligation

are hungry for the melodious voice of the muadhin;

the sweet, sticky glory of a long overdue date –

God is the greatest

the rush of relief, of sugar in the blood at last,
and closed eyes and prayers of thanks

to Allah to whom we all bear witness;

and His final prophet, who would share his iftar

as we now do with our neighbours.

but food is not all that is served on the table;

with it is patience, often in short supply at the best of times

and even more so when it is most needed,

during this month where dour silences and short tempers

fill the gaps between the countless rituals and endless restraint –

so too is gratitude needed,

going hand in hand with patience

and sometimes being forgotten altogether,

lost in the regret of raised voices and slammed doors;

if we ask for forgiveness and compassion

and it is given to us,

it might actually occur to us

that we had another thirst needing to be quenched,

that when we gorge ourselves on what we don’t need,

we neglect the nutrition we don’t even know we craved;

but now we have had our sustenance,

now that our hunger and thirst are momentarily satiated,

now that the restraints upon us can ease and with them

the burden that Allah will never make too much,

we can now hasten to prayer;

we can now hasten to

doing better,

being better,

withstanding the aches in our calves

and the pull of drowsiness that starts to kick in

after eight or ten (or was it twelve now?) rakat,

as we stand together in prayer through the night

soldiering through verses in a complex tongue

that many of us are only beginning to master

(and stumbling as well, but having no shame in doing so,

in the knowledge that it will please Him)

later, much later, when the first silvery threads of light

materialise in the night sky

and we glance at the moon

who is saying her farewell.

as we can start a new day to

begin the cycle all over again,

what keeps us upright

and on the true path

is not what keeps our stomachs full

and our throats moist;

no – what stays forever

is the goodness in our hearts,

the generosity we feel in our bones,

and the faith in our souls.

Ameen.

Mina Hadi

Mina Hadi

Mina had her first novel, See Red, published aged fifteen. After graduating in law, she's now dipping her toe back into the writing pool. She cares particularly about social justice, intersectional feminism and positive, accurate representation of marginalised groups in the media.