Hither fly your arrows of hatred.
Thither rain your spears of ignorance.
But no sigh of pain escapes my lips
as they come to pierce my chest.
Lightning cracks through my beating heart.
Thunder resonates behind my quiet voice.
Fire blazes within my darting eyes.
But you will never see.
I used to wonder as a child,
why hadn’t I been born amongst
tan-skinned, raven-haired people like me?
But now I think,
does my blood flow silver instead of crimson,
that you are so repulsed by me?
String your bows tight with words as arrows;
I will not stray from this path.
Aim for my liver as your mark;
I refuse to flee from fear.
And should you strike home and pierce my very heart,
only the warmth of love will spurt forth with my blood.
And you will have lost,
for I prefer the sweeter pain of forgiving you
to vengeance rightfully mine,
so my wounds are coated with a healing honey instead
of a toxic venom.
Your shoulders sag,
not because I terrorize you,
but because this hate is heavy,
I once felt the same way towards you.
So heed my words;
consider yourself the fool,
seduced by your own hatred.
You have fallen in love with it.
And what a price it has demanded,
burdening you with the weight of such contempt,
sucking the little mercy from your already shriveled heart.
It has infatuated you.
Am I the fool then, to passionately love
a beautiful reality,
who helps me along with gentle hands,
this hot bed of coals that I seem to tread alone?
You see the soles of my feet blackened by pain,
but the truth is,
I cannot feel them in my content state.
Won’t a true lover chase his beloved to the ends of the universe
and think it enough to only glimpse her?
What am I doing
My inspiration for the title of this poem, “To Sealed Hearts,” was taken from the Quran, Verse 7 of Surah Baqarah: “Allah has placed a seal upon their hearts and on their hearing, and over their sight is a veil.”
This letter addresses people who judge Muslims based on their distorted view of Islam, people who hate without justified cause. Growing up in a place with only a small community of Muslims, I used to wonder why I hadn’t been born in a Muslim country, where I wouldn’t have had to defend myself against questions and pointed looks. I have had to explain myself a lot, and in this poem, my heart pours out the true answer.
These two poems, originally in Urdu, were some of my biggest inspirations for the imagery in this piece. The first one uses the word ‘liver’ instead of ‘heart’ because the liver is given a lot of emphasis in many Eastern cultures, and phrases like “My liver has burst from sadness,” or “She is my liver,” are pretty common.
Here come the persecutors;
There approach the trials.
You test your spear,
and I shall test my liver.
Don’t say “ah” (referring to a sigh);
Seal your lips.
It is love, not infatuation (that you follow this path).
Let the spears fall onto your chest;
keep moving your feet forward.
Say in your condition,
“Sure, keep hurting me.”
In my poem, the hot bed of coals represents the path of Islam, and the inspiration came from the Hadith of Nabi (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), “There will come a time in my Ummah where holding onto Islam will be like holding onto a hot coal.”
The gentle hands that help me and guide me on this path are the hands of Allah. He helps me in ways I could never have imagined, and whenever that happens, I am pleasantly surprised and in awe and I forget any sensation of pain. Even though I’m wounded, I forget the burn and pain of the hot coals beneath my feet, because I am content and pleased to have Allah as my lord, Islam as a religion, and Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him as a prophet and messenger.
The lesson I’ve learned here is that I will give only love to those who hate. In the end, hatred only hurts the one who carries it, and I know this by experiencing and holding onto hate myself. No matter how hard anyone tries, they will not be able to deter me from what I believe is right, because of my intense love.