it is ‘asr in summer and the streets
are brimming with crowds.
my heart finds refuge in a mosque
in east London. i slip into
my prayer garment and disappear
into the prayer room, joining
a lady beside me who smiles
and asks if she could borrow
my scarf. i say sure. i sit a little
longer after prayer to take in
the air of serenity.
it is spring, and a gust of cold wind
sweeps my skin. i buy tickets
for the 8am train. shuttle past cities
till it is zuhr in Busan and my feet
leads me to a mosque. the looming
minaret, a familiar edifice.
a sign of peace. a lady
welcomes me with a smile that
reaches her eyes as she
briefly looks up from her qur’an.
it is fajr in a sleepy corner in France.
freezing from the biting morning air,
desperate for shelter. tucked amidst
a mess of shops is a door with a sign
scrawled in arabic letters. three knocks
and a brother opens with a ‘salaam’,
saving us from the chill, embracing
travelers with open arms.
it is maghrib going to isha’, in the city
that never sleeps. i pace my way
to the Haram, breathing in the gentle
breeze. in this space,
every colour, every nation
comes together. i am
in complete calm. released.
it is friday prayers. March 15th.
a trickle of congregation
streaming in; disconnected,
in a mosque
suddenly three shots.
loud muffled sounds.
see, a thousand gunshots
cannot deafen the daily call
to prayer. a massacre
cannot weaken the hearts
of an army of soldiers; brothers
and sisters. this earth is our home.
this earth is our mosque. these mosques
are our home. when raided
and destroyed, we rebuild
our foundation. we strengthen
our scaffolds. we fortify our walls.
we open our doors. standing in line
undefeated, we take the bullet
for each other. but never, will we
ever, take the gun to pull the trigger.
for our religion teaches forgiveness.
submission. peace. so may peace
be upon you. may peace forever be
with you. may an ocean of peace always flow
within you and may light break through
a crevice in your heart.