You and I

Assalamu Alaikum,

Ramazan Mubarak to all my dear readers.

Yesterday I came across a column by Farrukh Dhondy. He mentions about an Iftar party hosted by the Mayor of London. Here are some excerpts..

The poor mayor of London, knowing nothing of this developmental formation, invited “Muslims” to an Iftar party where he and they would break the fast of the day together (The name Farrukh Dhondy itself is misleading 🙂 – The Blogger)

I go to the session with my friend Mahmood Jamal, who has been invited to read poetry after dinner.

Mahmood has serious credentials. He is compiling the Penguin book of Sufi verse (though that may not be its final title on publication) and he is of the opinion that of all Islamic art, architecture being the body, poetry is its soul. He has ancestral pedigree too. His grandfather is the Islamic scholar Bari Miah of the Firangi Mahal in Lucknow, and he numbers several serious Islamic scholars among his relatives.

At the dinner Mahmood finds himself seated next to the mayor on his right and the head of the “Muslim Council”, one Abdul Bari, on his left. Ranged before him at the other tables are the stalwarts of the fundamentalist interpretations of the faith, men and women who have worked their way into this assembly as representatives of the Muslim groups of Britain.

The dinner finishes and the time comes for Mahmood to read his poems. He begins in fine and traditional form with a praise of the Almighty, a Hamd, and then a tribute to the Prophet, a Naath.

He then recites from his translations which I reproduce roughly here:

“It was a dark night

The gates to the Ka’aba and temple were locked,

And yet the door to repentance was open

The taverns were alive with light”

There was an uneasy silence. Mahmood gauged the tenor of disapproval in the audience. He unrelentingly went on to recite a poem by Mansur Hallaj, the famous Sufi martyr, who declaimed “I am the truth”. Anathema to the fundos.

Then he read Jalaludin Rumi in his own translation.


“Mahmood continued reading. Here is his own poem You & I:

You want to speak of War

I want to speak of Peace.

You say Punish

I say Forgive

You speak of God’s Wrath

I speak of His Mercy

Your Quran is a Weapon

My Quran is a Gift

You speak of the Muslim brotherhood

I speak of the brotherhood of Man

You like to Warn others

I like to Welcome them

You like to speak of Hell

I like to speak of Heaven.

You talk of Lamentation

I talk of Celebration.

You worship the Law

I worship the Divine.

You want Silence

I want Music

You want Death

I want Life

You speak of Power

I speak of Love.

You search out Evil

I warm to the Good

You dream of the Sword

I sing of the Rose petal

You say the world is a Desert

I say the world is a Garden

You prefer the Plain

I prefer the Adorned

You want to Destroy

I want to Build

You want to go Back

I want to move Forward

You are busy Denying

I am busy Affirming

Yet there might be one thing

on which we see eye to eye

You want Justice

So do I.

The mayor, the white entourage and the young Muslims who had never heard any such thing, applauded the reading to the rafters. The fundos sulked. After the reading Mahmood was surrounded by young Muslims, all invited there as clients of the fundo organisations, who had never been subject to this mainstream version of philosophical Islam. They wanted to know. Why had this beauty of their religion been denied them? Why had they not been told?


One Response

  1. Alhamdulillah! What a beautiful post, and such amazing poetry from brother Mahmood Jamal. Please convey my respects and love to him, and love to you also brother 🙂

    Inshallah, it opened many hearts 🙂

    Ya Haqq!

    PS I am happy to see you posting again 🙂

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