On Guns and Violence

I am in the hands of he who does not comprehend

Anything

His mind is not his own

The blame not his to carry

But the victims are still gone, and their grieving mothers

Need someone to blame

Who do they blame?

The fault is mine, of course

I am here, forgotten, discarded

Evidence

But I am so much more than proof

In my chamber I held one too many bullets

Branded with their names

Now they lie, motionless,

Bodies without souls—

One too many of them

How much longer before the next one?

Who will choose to stand behind me

Wielding power he does not possess,

Taking lives he has no right to take

I am not a shield for you

Do you not understand

With your history and your wars and your massacres

Do you still not understand?

With men among you who feed off my abilities,

Why do you allow your laws to be on the side of killers

I am not your friend

I will never be your friend

Arm yourselves with shame

Or have there not been enough deaths for you yet?

 

 

 

For Whom Shall I Cry

Tonight I cry tears for every man, woman and child who has suffered at the hands of oppression and injustice. I cry for the children in Syria, the mothers in Ghaza, the family and friends grieving in Ferguson.

But I also shed my tears for the oppressors, the wielders of swords who press their blades against their victims’ necks and take pleasure in hearing their dying pleas. I cry for them because they are lost, and I wonder where we went wrong to have let such people slip through the cracks.

We live in a world where science and technology continue to grow at such a pace that it seems as though we might actually have a chance to become advanced creatures, both in the way we think and how we learn to adapt to these new groundbreaking inventions.

The number of amazing feats doctors, artists, engineers, designers and scientists alike have been able to accomplish is a rapidly growing phenomenon that I personally doubt will slow down any time soon.

And yet

And yet, in the midst of all these wonderful discoveries, these glorious designs and intricate blueprints that are a product of the creative imagination, we find the black holes preventing us from reaching our true potential as human beings.

Alas, sometimes the apple we thought was ripe and ready for picking turns out to be the one with the most rotten of cores. Tell me, am I the only one who finds it hard to believe that among us there are still those who choose to believe that they are, in fact, better than others? That they are entitled to certain things? That they can determine their rank and file in society by obliterating any and all things or people standing in their way? I refuse to believe that there are people who are inherently bad. After all, it isn’t the apple’s fault that it became rotten.

However, in light of recent events, my optimistic view of humanity has been shredded, the scattered remains of what were once innocent thoughts now nothing more than a bittersweet memory floating like ashes over the image of Michael Brown.

Words mean nothing. Would words have helped young Michael, had he pleaded for his life in the soft undertones of someone who knows the odds are against them? Would words have made a difference if Michael had screamed against the injustice that had chosen him because of a history that bound him just as chains had bound his ancestors before him? Words are the trivial leftovers of our raw emotions, our pathetic attempts to express something that can never be captured after it has already occurred. Words are nothing more than the aftermaths of moments, and yet I find that I have no other way of showing my pain, my desperation. My horror.

So if words do not carry weight, then let my heavy heart be a testament to the pain I feel

I did not know you, Mike Brown, but I know your story. Because you are not the first, nor will you be the last. So long as we keep advancing with our sciences, our engineering, our space programs and nuclear weapons…so long as we continue to educate ourselves about the future, and ignore the past, we will soon realize that we’re really only going backwards

Morals. Responsibility. Decency. Modesty. Leadership. Honesty. Compassion. Empathy. Strength.

Let these be the characteristics we nurture within ourselves, so that there is no room in our hearts for evil to worm its way in and fester like a growing tumor. Let us allow our minds and hearts alike to be fruitful with knowledge, knowledge that goes beyond the classroom. Knowledge of ourselves. For if we do not understand who we truly are as individuals, how can we learn to appreciate and respect someone else for who they are?

In Memory of Sayed-Ahmed Abdalraheem. Husband. Brother. Father. Grandfather. Uncle. Friend

July 6, 2014

You were a father figure to all; your gracious goodwill and charming personality cultivated in your heart an everlasting affection and a warm and welcoming smile to friend and family member alike. There’s a reason the term is “grand” father. The tasks you completed in your lifetime, the help you willingly offered others, the hospitality you showed to those who needed it—were nothing less than grand. Everyone who spoke of you recalled with nostalgic reminiscence the way you opened the doors of your home to strangers and family, the way you put aside your own needs to please your family and your children.

Your best traits—and you had nothing but the best of traits—were passed on to your sons and daughter. You had the qualities of a leader and the heart of the strongest believer. I have seen these qualities mirrored in my own father, who has always taught me to lead, not follow. I know without a doubt that he got that attitude from you; you, who spoke your opinion aloud to those whom you thought needed to hear it; you, who would stop at nothing to right a wrong. You, who stood at the head of the table at my first birthday, smiling from ear to ear, with a love that radiated far brighter than the candles in the cake. I thank God that Baba had a knack for photography, and that he documented what seems like every second of my infancy. Today I went back and I looked at these pictures, these memories of a time to which I sometimes wish I could return. I looked at these pictures and I realized how lucky I was to grow up in your arms, to learn your name and hold your hand, to be counted among the many who can say that they were spoiled and loved by Sayed Ahmed Abdalraheem.

I will not say that your passing is easy, Jiddo. It isn’t. I don’t think even you realized the love and admiration and respect I had—and still have, and will always have—for you. You have given me the courage to stand up tall and speak my mind, like you. To be generous and put the needs of others before my own, like you. To lead and be strong, and to lend that strength when those around us can’t bear the burdens that life often sees fit to hand us. Like you. I am proud to say that I want to be just like you, for you were an exemplary role model. What strikes me the most is that you did what you did, not out of a sense of duty or because you felt you needed to fulfill an obligation, but because it was within your nature to do good. You were always prepared to sacrifice your needs for the sake of something greater, and I pray that someday God will grant me the same wisdom.

In the end, the heart that you nurtured so well could not withstand the love that you allowed to grow within it. And my heart, like yours, can only take so much. But I will stay strong, for you. I will keep going through the pictures, and I’ll share the cherished memories I have of you with Ahmed, Lena and Rayan, who don’t have as many recollections of you as they would like to have. I have not cried the last of my tears, but I have hope that your legacy will travel through the generations, insha’Allah, so that your death will not have been in vain. We will all strive to accomplish what you were able to achieve in your lifetime, and may Allah give us the strength and the willpower to live long, healthy and productive lives, so that one day, I can tell my children about their late great-grandfather. I’ll show them the pictures, and I’ll pass on your stories, and as we laugh and cry and recall the past, we will all keep praying to Allah (SWT), to allow us to be just like you.

Love, Always

Nahoola

“Circus Act”

I walk the tightrope that is my life

Only to slip into its frayed remains

While below the spectators laugh

And point fingers that, from this distance

Seem to me like the long-gone thoughts

I used to believe were my safety net

I climb upwards into the beginning

Of my fall, convinced that falling

From this height is better than standing

On solid ground. I have come to accept

That my feet will soon tumble just as

My mind has finally allowed itself free

Reign, and I can hear the warning bells

Echo in the chambers of a soon-to-be empty tent

The ringmaster has forgotten me before,

I should step off my rope before it becomes my noose

“The Things They Carried”

“For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now and then, however, there were times of panic, when they squealed and wanted to squeal but couldn’t, when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said Dear Jesus and flopped around on the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and sobbed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and to God and to their mothers and fathers, hoping not to die…afterward, when the firing ended, they would blink and peek up. They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hiding it. They would force themselves to stand…frame by frame, the world would take on the old logic—absolute silence, then the wind, then sunlight, then voices. It was the burden of being alive.”

From Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

“Craft”

old_book_3-wallpaper-1280x800

They don’t understand

Why he insists on

Isolating himself

And jotting down wisps

Of ideas by light

Of the moon. He tells

Them that he has no

Choice, that he must

Transcribe someone else’s

Plans and make them

His craft

They don’t believe him

Of course. Instead,

They discard the yellowed

Pages of his journals,

Pages with curled corners

And curious scents. They wait

Until he is six feet under

Before they read his careful

Letters. And there, beneath the

Glow of a waning moon

They finally understand

A Story in so Many Words: Airborne

She grips the balloon, letting the string dig into small fingers that strain with the effort of holding on. Her brows are knitted with unwavering concentration. A sudden wind wrenches the string from her hands, stinging pale skin. She watches the last reminder of her father drift to the heavens.