From a Former Grad Student of Imam Ibn al-Qayyim

I’ve kicked aside my prayer rug
and decided to pray on the rushing river
I’ve smashed those pinchy little spectacles
I used to need to read exegesis,
and decided to read the lightning
crackling in the horizon and the psyche
I’ve kissed the red lipstick of poetry
and lit the menthol lights of my soul
I’ve traded in my zikr beads
for the strappy high heels of ecstasy
Baby, I’m going out to get high on Love
and drunk at the Bar of Crazy Beauty,
so if any of those bearded qazi friends of yours
come around with their law books, tell them
I’ll be dancing till white threads the black dawn


Prayers from the Cellar of Soft Fascism

This soft fascism
is gathering its forces
like a hurricane
Lord, why did I never hoard
batteries before,
and where
is my mental masking tape?
This soft fascism
that is rolling toward us
covering the horizon,
dark as shame,
contains many lessons
for the brave
Lord, make me one of them
This soft fascism
is hurtling toward us
like a tornado
I’ve always avoided Kansas,
so I thought I was safe
This soft fascism
slashes our ship in the night
Where did it come from so suddenly?
—jutting like an iceberg
before our titanic pride
I shrink before the big darkness
of this soft fascism
and the terror padding, panting just outside my door
I only want a battened cellar hatch
and beneath it, corner enough to fit a fetal curl
Somewhere far away from all the shrieking,
where schoolchildren’s fingers are not being severed,
prisoners are not being raped on dog leashes,
and no one is vowing revenge
Where young mothers are not bombing themselves
in markets crowded with innocents mixed among the guilty,
armed settlers do not cheer the raze of local people’s homes,
marathon runners do not think of bombs at finish lines,
weddings dancers strut safe from missile drones,

and where those who live the most cushioned lives in the world
do not holler for more blood like football fans
Somewhere, Lord,
there must be a stable center,
a star above a mountain,
an energy of peace
that will return and settle accounts,
and seize this soft fascism by its talons
and drop it in a deep deep sea
—unless the Star of Peace has already crumbled
and is the sawdust helplessness
inside me
This soft fascism
has seized me by its talons
I need a shield
but I have no hands to hold a shield
Everything clatters to the ground
I cannot even cover my face
It is shame
that covers me
Lord, I only want a canvas thick
enough to shelter me
from the monsoon winds ahead
I only want to stay in bed—
yet, Lord, do not let courage
abandoned this address
Hate inside
and Fear outside
Lord, when again
will it not be night?
This soft fascism
is running as fast as oxytocin
through the world’s IV
From these unnatural contractions
what birth, what new deformity?
Everybody braces
for the next blow
of terror
Everybody practises and stays
in the posture of this fear
Our world constricts:
Soft fascism is here.

Elsewhere on Critical Muslim: