17 Exam Tips for Students

In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Praise be to God and peace and blessings be upon our beloved Messenger and upon his family and companions.

The Muslim student puts her/his trust in Allah when facing the tests of this world, and s/he seeks His help whilst following the prescribed means, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):

“The strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to attain that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless.” (Saheeh Muslim, hadeeth no. 2664)

Among those means are the following:

  • Turning to Allah by making du’aa’ in any way that is prescribed in Islam, such as saying,
رب اشرح لي صدري. ويسر لي أمري. واحلل عقدة من لساني. يفقهوا قولي
Rabbiy ishrah li sadri wa yassir li amri. Wahlul ‘ukdata min lissani, yafkahu kawli
O my Lord, expand my chest and make things easy for me

اللهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلا مَا جَعَلتَهُ سَهْلا وَ أنتَ تَجْعَلُ الحزْنَ إذا شِئْتَ سَهْلا
Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altahu sahla, wa ‘anta taj-alul hazna idha shi’ta sahla
O Allah! There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will.

  • Sleep and rise early.
  • Reciting the du’aa for leaving the house:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَّلَّ أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَىَّ.

Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘ala Allah, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah.
Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika an adilla aw udalla, aw azilla aw uzalla, aw azlima aw uzlama, aw ajhala aw yujhala ‘alayya.
In the name of Allah, I put my trust in Allah, and there is no strength and no power except with Allah. O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, lest I slip (commit a sin unintentionally) or be tripped, lest I oppress or be oppressed, lest I behave foolishly or be treated foolishly).

  • Always begin in the name of God. Say Bismillah.
  • Ask your parents, family and friends to make du’aa for you. Make du’aa for them as well.
  • Fear Allah with regard to your classmates, and do not be affected by their anxiety or fear just before the exam, for anxiety is a contagious disease. Instead, make them feel optimistic by saying good words as prescribed in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was optimistic when he heard the name of Suhayl (which means “easy”) and he said: “Things have been made easy for you.” He used to like to hear the words ‘Yaa Raashid, when he went out for any purpose. So be optimistic that you and your fellow classmates will pass this exam.
  • Remembering Allah, as dhikr dispels anxiety and tension. If something is too difficult for you, then pray to Allah to make it easy for you.
    Whenever Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) found something too difficult to understand, he would say, “O You Who taught Ibraaheem, teach me; O You Who caused Sulaymaan to understand, cause me to understand.”
  • Choose a good place to sit during the exam, if you can. Keep your back straight, and sit on the chair in a healthy manner.
  • Look over the exam first. Studies advise spending 10% of the exam time in reading the questions carefully, noting the important words and dividing one’s time between the questions.
  • Plan to answer the easy questions first, then the difficult ones. Whilst reading the questions, write notes and ideas which you can use in your answers later.
  • Answer questions according to importance.
  • Take your time to answer, for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Deliberation is from Allah and haste is from the Shaytaan.” (A hasan hadeeth. Saheeh al-Jaami, 3011).
  • In written exams, collect your thoughts before you start to answer. Write an outline for your answer with some words which will indicate the ideas which you want to discuss. Then number the ideas in the sequence in which you want to present them.
  • Write the main points of your answer at the beginning of the line, because this is what the examiner is looking for, and she may not see what she is looking for if it is in the middle of the page and she is in a hurry.
  • Devote 10% of the time for reviewing your answers. Take your time in reviewing, especially in mathematical problems and writing numbers. Resist the desire to hand in the exam papers quickly, and do not let the fact that some people are leaving early bother you. They may be among the people who have handed in their papers too early.
  • If you discover after the exam that you answered some questions incorrectly, then take that as a lesson in the importance of being well prepared in the future, and not rushing to answer questions. Accept the will and decree of Allaah and do not fall prey to frustration and despair. Remember the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “If anything befalls you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such and such.’ Rather say, ‘Qadar Allaah wa maa sha’a kaan (the decree of Allaah and what He wills happened),’ for saying ‘if only’ opens the door for the Shaytaan.” (Saheeh Muslim, and the first part of this hadeeth was mentioned above).
  • Remember that cheating is haram. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever cheats is not one of us.” Do without that which is haram, and Allah will suffice you from His bounty. Reject all offers of haraam things that come to you from others. Whoever gives up a thing for the sake of Allah, Allah will compensate him with something better.

And ALWAYS remember that this life is temporary and the exams you have are not an end, but a mean. It is the actions you have prepared for the Hereafter, and the questions of the examination in the grave, and the deeds that will save you on the Day of Resurrection that count.

We ask Allah to make us succeed in this world, and in the next. We ask Him in his Mercy to allow us to be among those who are victorious and saved in the Hereafter, for He is the All-Hearing Who answers prayer.

May Allah give us all tawfiq. Good luck!

Adapted from this source.

Ramadan Mubarak, Campus Iftars & More!

As-Salamu Alaykum,

Baihaqi reported on the authority of Salman Al-Farsi that the Prophet (PBUH) delivered a sermon on the last day of the month of Sha’ban. In it he said,

“O People! The month of Allah (Ramadan) has come with its mercies, blessings and forgiveness. Allah has decreed this month the best of all months. The days of this month are the best among the days and the nights are the best among the nights and the hours during Ramadan are the best among the hours. This is a month in which you have been invited by Allah (to fast and pray). Allah has honored you in it. In every breath you take is a reward of Allah, your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations are answered.”

Beloved Michigan Muslims, Ramadan Mubarak!

We pray that this special month brings you continuous blessings and benefits. We pray that God makes this special month smooth for you and accepts all your worship. We pray that it is a productive, joyous and tranquil month for you and your families. We pray that this Ramadan is your best one yet, and that you are able to experience and nourish yourself through many more Ramadans to come insha’Allah. Jazakum Allah Kheir for being an integral part of this community that, for many, provides a sense of family.

Speaking of family, they say that the family that prays together, stays together- and eats together! The MSA will be hosting a campus iftar every week during Ramadan, insha’Allah. Please save these dates and be on the lookout for emails with location details. We would love to see you and break our fasts with you!

Thursday, July 26 (East Hall – co-sponsored with the Michigan Muslim Alumni Foundation- a reunion!)
Thursday, August 2 (East Hall)
Thursday, August 9 (Rackham)
Wednesday, August 15 (Rackham)

On these nights, will also hold taraweeh prayers on campus. For all other days of the month, we are organizing carpools to the local Muslim Center of Ann Arbor (MCA). If you need a ride or can offer others a ride (even if just once a week), please e-mail Omar Hadied (mhadied@umich.edu) or Nour Soubani (nsouba@umich.edu).

To use public transportation, TheRide #2 city bus can get you to the MCA in about 15 minutes. Riding the bus is free with your M-Card!

MCA website: http://mca-aa.org/
Bus #2 route schedule: http://aata.org/rideguide.asp?route=2
From downtown (to MCA): http://aata.org/rideguide/2out.pdf
To downtown (back to campus): http://aata.org/rideguide/2in.pdf

Also, stay tuned for blog posts from MSA’s soon-to-launch Green Muslims project for tips on how you can make this month a Green Ramadan!

Peace and blessings,
Your MSA Board

Islam as a mercy to all humankind: Mercy manifested through social justice endeavors

The piece below was a khutbah delivered at campus jummah by Tareq Yaqub on April 20, 2012. You can read more of Tareq’s writing on his blog. 

Today we will spend some time discussing important issues plaguing our community: stagnation and apathy. The two ayahs explicitly tackle these two points. I would first like to address the first ayah that states, “And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” (27:10) Brothers and sisters, growing up, we have heard about this excuse in countless stories of the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad. When these individuals tried to preach their messages, they were faced with the utmost of ignorance. This ignorance was manifested in the idea that one cannot accept something if it goes against tradition. Even outside of religion, this mentality holds true. When scientists claimed the earth was round, or the earth orbited the sun, they, too, faced much backlash and imprisonment. Retrospectively, it is easy to poke fun at these individuals, however, in our current situation, we, unfortunately, see the same rhetoric used in our own Muslim communities. Imagine if those resistant to change had ended up victorious and ideas of scientific advancement were thus ridiculed, what type of state would our world be in? If movements for change were always silenced, we would be in a state of perpetual stagnation; seeing no growth or progress. Therefore, why is it that we, as a Muslim ummah, when faced with changing times, locations, and socio-political landscapes, often settle for the convenience of continuing practices solely due to the following reason: “this is what we saw those before us doing.” This is the same phrase that the Quran ridicules those in a state of ignorance for using. What if the ideas of slavery and eugenics were never challenged because they were already institutionalized for hundreds of years? What if the Prophet (pbuh), through divine intervention, never came to challenge the idolatrous customs of the pagan Arabs? With this last statement, it can be seen that the Prophet (saws) was sent to induce change during a time of ignorance. Given this, we must realize that the Islamic message was sent as a revolutionary one, and is therefore, inherently dynamic. It was sent to directly challenge and subsequently change the status quo. Inherent to these efforts is a commitment to social justice. Islam came to rid the world of oppression. Therefore, inherent in our religious message is the idea of recognizing systems of oppression and eliminating them, even if they are present in and carried out by our own communities. This brings me to the next ayah, ayah 13:11 which states “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” I would like to further elaborate on this ayah before I continue, as it is often used out of context. This ayah is directly referring to one’s own, internal relationship with God. However, our Muslim tradition is one that emphasizes the impact of external surrounding on the internal state, as can be seen by the famous hadith regarding the perfume seller and the blacksmith narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim. Therefore, we cannot expect our own spiritual relationship with God to progress if we find ourselves in communities (Muslim or not) that do not oppose injustices.  So, my brothers and sisters, in order for things to get better, and for us to become closer to God, we must change ourselves and our environments. The problem is, however, we are not aware of how bad our situation is. We are corrupted and blinded by apathy. We, as Muslims, are entrusted with commanding good and forbidding evil, but our egos have left us merely ordering others to do good without first examining ourselves and the world we live in, and thus we have failed miserably at even recognizing evil, let alone stopping it.

To understand what I mean by this, we must look at our example, the greatest of creation, the Prophet Muhammad (saws). As we know, the Prophet was sent as a mercy to all humankind. This mercy was manifested in acts of social change. God’s message, spread by the Prophet, was one that directly tackled contemporary social issues. For example, the ban on burying daughters, the challenging of the ways slavery was practiced, the restrictions on polygamy, and the prohibition of wine were restrictions that aimed to specifically combat toxic cultural practices of the time. Looking at the first three examples mentioned, it can be seen that there was an emphasis on human rights and human dignity in all these actions. Islam began as a means for social change, but this seems to be an important aspect of our religion that we have, unfortunately, forgotten. Our comfort from the belief that we are carriers of truth has led to complacency in the realm of social action and this complacency has led to stagnation. This stagnation has led to the longing for an Islamic Golden Age that has already come and gone, and due to this, we are now stuck in this mentality of a perceived Islamic decline. When we talk about Islamic contributions to science and society, we discuss a glorified past that places little emphasis on any contributions after the seventeenth century. Instead of being outraged by this, we are comfortable with this because we believe that Islam has already offered all it can to society. We believe that our golden age has come and gone. Now, instead of calling for Muslims to once again be leaders for social change, instead of calling for progress, we have forgotten the inherent dynamism of Islam and therefore only dream of belonging to an Islamic Golden Age. We are in a state of perpetual Islamic nostalgia.

This nostalgia reminds of a theme in the film Midnight in Paris. In this movie, the main character, who is a contemporary author, longs to live amongst his favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. He believes that their era marked the golden age of literature and is therefore depressed living in his current life. He is later able to time travel and upon meeting Hemingway and Fitzgerald he comes to realize that they too are depressed and miserable and long to be amongst the company of a great literary past. Hemingway and Fitzgerald also are given a chance to travel in time and upon meeting their heroes, they realize that they, too, wish to be part of a greater past. This happens over and over again in the film. The ultimate message of the film is one that warns us of romanticizing the past to the point to where we neglect the present. When we speak of the past in way that makes it sound golden, we lose sight of the future. We lose sight of progress and we become stagnant. Again, since dynamism is an integral part of Islam, stagnation must be avoided.

Throughout our Islamic history we see examples of dynamism within the religion. We see differences in family life and religious rulings between the Meccan and Medinan times and we also see differences in fiqhi rulings over time and with differing geographic locations. For example, Imam Shafi’I changed much of his fiqhi approaches and standpoints in his work, al-Risala, when he moved from Baghdad to Cairo. This is an example of how Islam responded to changing geographic and cultural climates. ‘Urf, or cultural practice, has always affected the practice of Islam. This leads us to an interesting issue that our community faces: One that involves posing religion and culture as binaries. We often aim to make a distinction between the two and thus create a false dichotomy. Of course Islam has influenced the cultures it has come into contact with, and of course, cultural practices have influenced Islam. If that were not the case, then Islam in sub-saharan Africa would be practiced the same way that it is practiced in Iraq, Indonesia, France, and America. As we know, this is definitely not the case. But instead of embracing and admiring this plurality within our religion, there are those who are spearheading efforts to attempt to return to a “pure” Islam free of cultural influence. This idea seems to make little sense because the cultural practices of 7th century Arabia greatly influenced the way Islam was propagated and practiced. Yet, many still choose to romanticize the past in order to justify an obsession to “cleanse” the religion.

If we look at the our prophetic tradition, we can see that our beloved Prophet (saw) respected cultural practices as long as they did not explicitly defy Islamic teachings. For example, after the Hijra, Umar Bin Khattab (ra) complained to the Prophet that the Ansari women were setting bad examples for Quraishi women who had made the hijra. In Medina, women had a more active role in city affairs and were seen as more assertive than Meccan women. Umar Bin Khattab went to complain to the Prophet because he saw many Ansari wives constantly challenge men (including their husbands) and did not act in a way that Meccan women often acted. The Prophet (saw) responded by simply smiling. When Umar bin Khattab (ra) repeated his complaints, the Prophet smiled again, alluding to the fact that he saw that Umar’s complaints were unfounded. Commentary on this hadith is one that states that the Prophet realized that Meccans were now residents of Medina and that this was accepted social behavior in Medina that was in not in conflict with the teachings of Allah (swt). Look at the divine wisdom that we find in the Prophet’s actions here.  We can see from this that Islam’s goal is not to enter an area and immediately erase all of its cultural practices. In fact, cultural influences, like the one seen in the previous story, can have positive outcomes on the practice of religion. With this idea, we can see that Islam has room for cultural influence and this influence does not make one version of Islam impure or more syncretic than other forms.

This brings us to a very important point. We have allowed many to tell us that Islam is 1) backwards, 2) has little room for progress, 3) that it is at odds with modernity, and instead of challenging these claims, we have internalized them and even embraced them. Many of us are starting to accept this clash of civilizations rhetoric that pins Islam against the West and due to this; we are not comfortable with accepting the idea of a Western or American Islam. We are, however, comfortable with accepting a Nigerian Islam, an Iranian Islam, and an Indonesian Islam. This has stemmed from many forces, both internal and external, pinning Islam against the West, and even against ideas of modernity. Given our situation as American Muslims, we cannot allow these ideas to be used to demonize us and further marginalize us. We must understand our religion and never internalize ideas that our religion is backwards, or ideas that we should sacrifice some civil liberties because people practicing our faith are more likely to be radicalized or violent. This can only come from seeking knowledge about our faith.

Earlier, we discussed the need to remember the inherent dynamism of Islam in order to enact social change and to positively critique stagnation and antiquity within our own American Muslim communities. To do so, we must further our understanding of Islam. We have talked about pursuing Islamic knowledge in the past, but this has often been used as a purposely ambiguous umbrella term. What does Islamic knowledge entail? Does understanding simply come from memorizing the Quran, some hadith, and learning Arabic? No. The fact of the matter is that one can memorize the Quran and be a native Arabic speaker, and not be able to gain much understanding from the Quran. This is because true understanding comes from historically contextualizing the verses and ahadith. We will never truly understand the commandments of Islam without also asking why? How? And when? Providing context will not only strengthen our own understanding, but will also allow us to refute the attacks on Islam that others try to propagate. The best way to begin historically contextualizing aspects of our faith is to read a seerah, or biography of the Prophet, and also read a tafsir. A tafsir should not be confused with a translation. Tafsirs will often provide information regarding when certain ayahs were revealed and what situations prompted their revelation. This will inshAllah greatly expand our knowledge of our own religion and allow us to refute claims made by those who try to vilify it.

Before tackling a tafsir, I personally think, everyone should read a seerah (I personally, recommend Tariq Ramadan’s: In the Footsteps of the Prophet as a starting point). The Prophet (saw) is our ultimate source of emulation and is the individual we should love more than anyone, but how can we love someone we do not know? In order to truly understand our faith, we must understand the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). Unfortunately, many of us are taught details about the life Prophet only until he received revelation and focus less and the events that took place after his prophethood. It is important to understand the chronology of Muhammad’s (saw) life to further allow us to contextualize and understand Allah’s religion. This will allow us to understand our history, be proud of it, and not romanticize it. This will also allow us to answer questions that we might have like why the Prophet married Aisha at young age, why he (saw) oversaw the execution of the men belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayza, and other questions that we are often uncomfortable addressing through our tempocentric lens. With this, we will find a new-found love and respect for our religion and our prophet inshAlllah.

Muslim readers, our disregard for our own rich history has led to stagnation and a subsequent lack of enthusiasm for our religion, which has led us to turn to claims that a tree was performing sujood, or a certain word is mentioned in the Quran a certain number of times, or the same number of times as another word, or what have you, in order to affirm our faith. We are turning to seemingly superstitious and made-up means to validate our faith. These means are being adopted because we no longer care to explore the beauty and complexity of our religion that can only come from knowing its history. Our abandonment of understanding our dynamic history has trivialized our religion into a series of fiqhi debates where everything falls within a halal/haram binary. So, instead of discussing what it means to be an American Muslim, instead of bringing forth any nuanced understandings of the deen, we are arguing whether it is halal or haram to kill spiders or do yoga.

Brothers and sisters, we live in an ever-changing world; a world that aims to label Islam as a cancer and a problem. What are we going to do to combat this? In our own country, we are being alienated and marginalized and many in our own communities have simply accepted that. In our own country, non-Muslims are telling us how to practice our own religion. Instead of defining it for ourselves, forces like the government and the media have told us that we have to strive to be moderate Muslims. What is a moderate Muslim? Who came up with this term? Are the moderate Muslims the Muslims who organized rallies to support the NYPD surveillance efforts that unjustly and illegally targeted Muslims? If you are unfamiliar with this, it is true. An organization by the name of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, headed by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser actually organized a rally praising police for illegally spying on Muslims. The AIFD is essentially a conservative group that makes ridiculous claims that Islam endorses all things associated with free-market capitalism, and falls just short of stating that the Quran endorses baseball and apple pie as Muslim past-times. Is this who we are really striving to be?

For fellow college students, after we graduate and it comes to be our time to run our respective Muslim communities, are we going to stand and say this is how I saw my parents practicing, so I am going to the same thing? Are we going to say this is how Fox News (and Dr. Jasser) told me I should practice Islam, so it must be right? OR are we going to finally define what it means to be an American Muslim ourselves and stop letting others speak for us? It is time that we assess our situation and the needs of our ummah and constructively critique any inequalities and injustices we see in our own communities. Islam emphasizes the idea of community, and therefore we must strive to be as inclusive as can be, but we still find certain demographics in our communities marginalized and silenced. At times, it’s as if we pretend they do not exist. When are we going to recognize that African Americans make up the largest American Muslim dempgraphic? What are we doing to ensure their inclusion in our communities? Are we propagating various attitudes of racism within our own mosques? These are questions we must ask ourselves. When are we going to be willing to listen to the voices of women within our own communities? When are we going to be comfortable admitting that there are LGBTQ individuals in our community who love Allah and His messenger? How are we creating an inclusive community if these voices continue to be silenced? We must open our minds, remember the dynamism of Islam and its commitment to social justice, and Inshallah we can build strong, inclusive Muslim communities that are united and not factionalized. Only through this inclusivity and unity will we find ourselves no longer in the peripheries in our own country.

In relation to this, I would like to visit a very popular hadith present in Sahih Muslim:

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) along with some of his companions migrated from Mecca to Medina. The Meccans were merchants and traders while the Medinians were people of agriculture. One day, in Medina, the Prophet was passing by a few Medinan farmers who were climbing high up on date palms to enhance pollination of seeds. They would manually put male with the female instead of leaving it to the wind to do it. The Prophet, who was not a farmer without realizing the importance of this manual process said to them, “Perhaps it may be better for you not to do this.” The Medinians, hearing this from the Messenger of God left what they were doing. The produce came out scarcely as it was merely by the wind. The Prophet clarified his role and nature as a Messenger of God to the people in very clear terms, “If I order you to do something that is to do with your religion then take it (and do it) but if I order you to do something from my own opinion then verily I am merely a human being;” and he added, “You are more knowledgeable of the matters of your world.” This is an authentic hadith, collected in Sahih Muslim.

My brothers and sisters, we are aware of our world. We know the problems within our own communities and we must address them. From this hadith, we can see some important points made by our beloved Prophet in regards to calling for reform. In matters of established religious doctrine, one cannot deny or reform aspects of the faith that our central to it such as the oneness of God or the importance of prayer. We can, however, challenge inequities in our communities that are often sanctioned by tradition or via religious rhetoric. We should recognize the male privilege exercised in our religious spaces. We should talk about gender inequities in our own communities, especially when it comes to access to education. We should challenge the notion that some topics such as sex and drug use are taboo, even though they are occurring daily in our own communities. We need to voice our opinions about these issues, and these are the aspects of our community that we need to challenge.

We control the future of Islam and it is not too late for us to revive it. Our glory days are not a thing of the past, and when I look at the bright faces in this room, I know that I can comfortably say that. It is healthy to internally critique any perceived oppressive or invasive forces we see in our own communities, but it is important to do so with an open and understanding mind. We are all inheritors of the Prophetic tradition, and since he (saw) was a mercy to all humankind, we must also strive to be so. We live in a world where oppression of all sorts has been institutionalized and normalized and it is up to us to challenge it. After all, aren’t tyranny and oppression the polar opposites of mercy? Fellow brothers and sisters, in order to follow the Prophetic tradition and remain the mediums for mercy in this world, we must adapt to a changing world. We must recall the revolutionary nature of Islam that aimed to restore justice and challenge systems of oppression. Sadly this part of our Muslim identity seems to be declining and I only pray that we can revive it. It pains me to see that Muslims are not at the forefront of social justice efforts in America. We are seen as a demographic that is obsessed with living a professional lifestyle and measuring our own successes by the cars we drive. We say that we care about others, which seems to only mean that we are making dua for those in Palestine and Syria. What about the individuals in Kashmir? What about drone attacks in Pakistan? What about Trayvon Martin? What about the 15% of Americans living below the poverty line? What about the 1 in 7 children in America who don’t have dinner to eat every day? Do we not care about them? Do you think that simply making dua for them is enough? How are we going to sleep at night in our big, comfortable homes, when people in our own cities are living in the streets? Speaking of which, when are we going to recognize and challenge the institutions that aid in making the inequalities a reality? When are we going to recognize that institutionalized racism and sexism have hindered the social mobility of certain minorities and women in this nation? Won’t these recognitions allow us to better our own communities, and our own ummah? During these times where antagonizing Islam legitimizes the political candidacy of many individuals, what are we doing to combat this? It is time we make use of our resources: our money, our voting power, and our time, to challenge oppression and seek to bring unity and understanding in our world. I ask Allah (swt) to give us the courage and tawfiq to assess the needs of our ummah and its apathy towards its own marginalization. I pray that future generations will benefit from our efforts and our refusal to be silent and that they have the opportunity to live in an America where they no longer face discrimination and bigotry for being Muslim.

for the people of the land of the sun (just recompense)

a few words next to nothing for our brothers and sisters.

May Allah be with them and grant them steadfastness and relief from oppression.

————————–

I bled this lead poem

from a third eye

from the dark side of an eclipsed solar disc

knowing it would shine again because an eclipse cannot last

i bled this lead poem
and scribbled on the walls of the 69th cell in permanent red ink
like the author of the Algerian National Anthem before he escaped
and this was hurled and heard like mangled pieces of invisible shrapnel
but it ain’t just recompense

I don’t consider this just recompense
for brethren picking through mounds of rubble that used to be a home before missiles hit
in search of a baby sister
while the world watched did nothing for reasons that don’t make sense to me
hidden in plain view by
Mr. Sinister behind the podium standing at the center of his winter solstice
trying to steal the sun from its land
telling the world with the forked thing between his jaws that he is not the maestro of a crazed Coliseum
with the forked thing between his jaws with a taste of blood for his own people

oh people of the land of the sun
an eclipse don’t last forever

I don’t consider this just recompense
because stories were distorted by the headlines to help fit them on one line to speed across the bottom of television screens
in order to make room for some photoshopped face celebrity latest break-up story
to appease devastated attention spans and boost ratings
in order to feed hypnotic conditions

so by the time I caught ear of it

the victims were somehow the villains
and the sky wasn’t falling
and the one who’d sold the fangs to the fox in the first place was made to be the hero

What could be just recompense
for children missing for months
seized by shadows and
when they finally were sent home -the fingernails extracted from their fingers
came home wiser to the ways of the world than old men
came home with the lights in their eyes dimmed like
flashlights on the verge of burning out
and the worst of their wounds from
invisible shrapnel that hit them and they bled lead poems
that no one would ever see or hear

how could this bear witness
for one man from the land of the sun
that lay dying from shrapnel
who witnessed the event
of an unknown man in white– bright as the winter sun he had to squint
descending on him with glad tidings
that the eclipse would end
and the sun would shine again
and prophecy cannot be undone
enough to make that witness that lay dying smile

the witnesses of the witness testify he was squinting
like one staring into the eye of the sun
and he was smiling.

oh people of the land of the sun
an eclipse cannot last forever.

© askia nasir bilal 2012

For more pieces like this, check out Askia’s blog.