Love is a Traveller…For Sale Online Now!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that my first collection of poems is now available to buy online here!

LOVE IS TRAVELLER  FC Jan 28  copy

According to the publisher, Daniel ‘Abdal-Hayy Moore at Ecstatic Exchange:

“With Medina Whiteman’s lively, metamorphosing voice, we have here finely detailed poetic stances on whatever attracts her and her pen, and her heart is here, and its centripetal ripples edge out to our own world and wash over it as if with our own sensibilities — and it is a welcoming thing, a sweet and healing thing to know these enlightened trails.”

And from a review by Michael Sugich, author of Signs on the Horizons:

“Love is a Traveller and We are Its Path” is an astonishing, accomplished, heartbreakingly beautiful work. Ms. Whiteman writes as a girl, a woman, a mother, and a wide-eyed, reflective observer of her world — as seeker, believer and sage. For her God is truly in the details. Each observation, whether earthy or supernal, is internalized and suffused with a piercing awareness of meaning, and a deep, abiding faith that shines through a world full of mundane and transcendent particulars.”

Ain’t Lateefa Spiker‘s cover art lovely? Here‘s the link to buy a copy yourself and see if you agree with them. Pass on the news, and happy reading!

 

 

 

Muslim Things: Surprisingly Not Scary

  It’s impossible not to notice them. They appear in social network newsfeeds, they appear in the news, in the comments on the news, in conversations overhead on café terraces. At times you can almost see them being thought.
  They are the fears that flit across the minds of anyone who has ever come into contact with a Muslim. Or, more potently, who has ever read the word without ever having met a Muslim. The word has taken on a shape-shifting life of its own, at times monstruous and shadowy, at others defiant and political; the silhouette of it morphs on the screen, taking on the prickly subjects around it and shuffling forward under the burden of their horrors.
  And yet at other times, and sometimes even more intensely on Facebook than anywhere else, it is a key to a vast wonderland of commonalities, of shared loves and expansions, of the imagined song of a nightingale pondering how to attain the rose, of the sorrow of separation into individual bodies when the spirit longs for union again, of the thunder that joy makes in the heart when this long-for proximity is felt. All of this depends on the projections of the thinker, on the bed the word receives in their brain.
  However it beds down in yours, it is never a neutral name. It does not inspire visions of light-hearted, frolicsome, or jovial people, skipping happily through life.
  In the spirit of addressing the imbalance of contexts in which the word ‘Muslim’ appears (take, for instance, ‘Muslim Rage’, ‘Muslim patriarchal values’, ‘Muslim traditions’…) I would like to suggest a few new nomenclatures.
  How about ‘Muslim Badminton?’
  Or ‘Muslim Knitting’?
  Or ‘Muslim Strawberry Farms’?
  We could really go to town here, in our invented, happy-go-lucky Muslim world, where there are no issues surrounding us like swathes of barbed wire, and we are generally pootling along, enjoying life. (Feel free to add your own Muslim Things in the comments!)
  How about…

  ‘Muslim Surfing’
  ‘Muslim Theatre’
  ‘Muslim Fudge’
  ‘Muslim Upcycling’
  ‘Muslim Capoeira’
  ‘Muslim Bake-Sales’
  ‘Muslim Poetry Slams’
  ‘Muslim Silversmithing’
  ‘Muslim Face-painting’
  ‘Muslim Nurseries’
  ‘Muslim Permaculture’
  ‘Muslim Neo-Choirs’
  ‘Muslim Jam Sessions’
  ‘Muslim Skating’
  ‘Muslim Hiking Clubs’
  ‘Muslim Soup Kitchens’
  ‘Muslims Holding Hands at the Movies’

  It is curious how often even I expected myself to write something involving a revolution, repressive regime or Scud missile.
  How inculcated a sense of a word becomes; I would like to do as gay people did when they inverted the sense of the word Queer and made it something they could be proud of.
  In a way, the analogy is not so off the wall. If you were to round up all the gay people in the world, you’d be sure to find a decent dose of substance abusers, HIV positives, sociopaths, and worse in there somewhere. Despite this being so, the truth is that no one gay person can be called upon to answer for all of that. Virtually every gay person I’ve ever met seemed quite serious, domestically minded, and, well, pretty normal.
  So it is for Muslims. Much to the annoyance of journalists, for whom it shreds the simple notions they rely upon to explain us from arm’s length, there is no such thing as a ‘Muslim community’. This hysterically funny satire shows how absurd the idea of a ‘black community’ sounds if it were to be turned on its head.
  If you don’t happen to spend a decent amount of time among Muslims – and that probably accounts for a good number of Muslims themselves, who are equally vulnerable to casting aspersions over themselves after a good hammering by the news – let me tell you that I know Muslims, or know of Muslims, who happily fall into the above categories, and many more innocent, unscary others besides.
  I personally know Muslim midwives and doulas, herbalists, doctors, healers, singers (female too – myself included), musicians, painters, gravestone-carvers, poets, gardeners, Montessori teachers, Steiner teachers, state school teachers, civil servants, journalists, avid PG Wodehouse fans, filmmakers, photographers, nerds, programmers, adrenaline junkies, mountain-climbers…Sometimes they are inspired, driven by a sense of joy so powerful in them that they cannot but do their art, sport, game, craft, or whatever it is, lest they implode with the excitement.
  It seems peculiar to associate any of these ordinary, or extraordinary activities with being a Muslim, but are they any less relevant than a different kind of Muslim’s penchant for throwing stones at tanks, or issuing prohibitions on women revealing their ankles, or shouting ‘Death to America’? How much is each of them contingent upon the time, the context, the education of the person, the influences they are subject to, or the unfathomable movements of the human mind?
  We are, at our least divided, only human beings. Separating a person’s identity from their freedom to behave like a twit is the first step to viewing them as a human being. Otherwise, we owe what we do to our colour, religion, nationality, immigration status, gender, sexuality, or any other label we have invented for the sole purpose of separating others from ourselves and scattering them into a hierarchy whose apex is us. In this ugly scheme where everything is blamed on the umbrella of identity over our heads, none of us can ever break out of the crust built up of our errors and start over.
  So, dear readers, I shall now desist from my Muslim typing, since my Muslim fingers are tired, and my Muslim glasses smudged with unidentified Muslim splodges. My Muslim ideas have run to a standstill. Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall have some Muslim Fun with my kids, playing Muslim Football and doing some Muslim Weeding in my Muslim veggie plot. But for now, I shall brush my Muslim teeth, go to Muslim sleep and, I hope, have a few Muslim dreams.

The Hate Crowd

Hit in the stomach by a visual feed of hate comments – directed at others, but so what? It still hits like a bad virus, bilious in its fury, toxic in its loathing – I am shaken up by the decision that some people take: to hate someone.

It almost seems like it could be anyone. The desire to hate is there; the hatred is already frothing at the cauldron of the hater’s belly, waiting for a bypasser to scald.

And there is always a ‘reason’ to scald them. They look wrong. They aren’t part of the comforting pattern of looks and backgrounds that make the hater’s world feel less frightening and bad. They must think something awful about the rest of humanity; she’s a woman in a headscarf, so therefore – by extension, a looong extension made up of broken lines and dodgy converter plugs – she must hate gays, consent to be beaten by her husband, and be in favour of hangings/nuclear enrichment/totalitarian Islamic rule for the entire ‘civilised’ universe.

What I want to ask these insane, poison-lensed haters, is this: what do you get out of hating? Think about it completely selfishly for a minute. How are you happier, or better off in any way, by carrying around this cauldron of foaming toxic waste inside you? Do you believe that you are harming the person you hate? Do you believe that you are superior to him, and therefore he deserves to be hated? Does that feeling compensate for the vileness you are carrying around inside yourself? Does it veil it so that you continue to believe, unaware,  that your hatred is his fault for being so bloody evil?

I really do not understand what makes hatred seem like a sensible, appealing lifestyle choice.  Does it make you look cool in front of your friends? Do they also carry around the same crucible of nastiness inside them? Are you just keeping up appearances?

The sheer ridiculousness of hating someone because, apparently, they hate you makes me even more likely to tear my hair out in a fit of frustration at the stupidity and self-destructiveness of humankind. It’s like there are millions of bigots, all looking into mirrors and saying: “You disgusting great &*£%! You think you’re so great, telling everyone else they’re wrong! Look how vile you are! Your beliefs are idiotic!! You think you’re better than everyone else!!! Why don’t you just shut the hell up??!!!”

The really horrible part of it is that I hate these people myself. I read racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-whoever comments and it makes me so angry I could throw my computer out of the window (incidentally a good way of avoiding reading them again in the future).

Hatred is poison, and it only poisons the one who chooses to carry it. The bigots are all the same, the Muslim extremists, the Muslim-haters. All of them have overlooked those beautiful, freeing lines in Quran: “Lakum dinakum wa liya din”: To you your beliefs, and to me mine; and “La ikraha fi din”: There is no compulsion in religion.

You want to lighten your heart’s load? Do it, in whatever way makes sense to you. Don’t listen to finger-waggers, or brow-beaters, or soapbox megamouths competing to tell you what to think – whether in the Guardian’s comment section or the madrasa. Nobody has the right to throw you off the scent your own intuition will pick up, given the space and the freedom to do so.

Everyone believes in something, even it is the twisted notion that they believe in nothing, or that belief itself is wrong. “To you your beliefs, and to me mine”. No ifs or buts. Let’s leave the trolls to their stinking dens and walk out into the open space of equanimity.

The Hate Crowd

Hit in the stomach by a visual feed of hate comments – directed at others, but so what? It still hits like a bad virus, bilious in its fury, toxic in its loathing – I am shaken up by the decision that some people take: to hate someone.

It almost seems like it could be anyone. The desire to hate is there; the hatred is already frothing at the cauldron of the hater’s belly, waiting for a bypasser to scald.

And there is always a ‘reason’ to scald them. They look wrong. They aren’t part of the comforting pattern of looks and backgrounds that make the hater’s world feel less frightening and bad. They must think something awful about the rest of humanity; she’s a woman in a headscarf, so therefore – by extension, a looong extension made up of broken lines and dodgy converter plugs – she must hate gays, consent to be beaten by her husband, and be in favour of hangings/nuclear enrichment/totalitarian Islamic rule for the entire ‘civilised’ universe.

What I want to ask these insane, poison-lensed haters, is this: what do you get out of hating? Think about it completely selfishly for a minute. How are you happier, or better off in any way, by carrying around this cauldron of foaming toxic waste inside you? Do you believe that you are harming the person you hate? Do you believe that you are superior to him, and therefore he deserves to be hated? Does that feeling compensate for the vileness you are carrying around inside yourself? Does it veil it so that you continue to believe, unaware,  that your hatred is his fault for being so bloody evil?

I really do not understand what makes hatred seem like a sensible, appealing lifestyle choice.  Does it make you look cool in front of your friends? Do they also carry around the same crucible of nastiness inside them? Are you just keeping up appearances?

The sheer ridiculousness of hating someone because, apparently, they hate you makes me even more likely to tear my hair out in a fit of frustration at the stupidity and self-destructiveness of humankind. It’s like there are millions of bigots, all looking into mirrors and saying: “You disgusting great &*£%! You think you’re so great, telling everyone else they’re wrong! Look how vile you are! Your beliefs are idiotic!! You think you’re better than everyone else!!! Why don’t you just shut the hell up??!!!”

The really horrible part of it is that I hate these people myself. I read racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-whoever comments and it makes me so angry I could throw my computer out of the window (incidentally a good way of avoiding reading them again in the future).

Hatred is poison, and it only poisons the one who chooses to carry it. The bigots are all the same, the Muslim extremists, the Muslim-haters. All of them have overlooked those beautiful, freeing lines in Quran: “Lakum dinakum wa liya din”: To you your beliefs, and to me mine; and “La ikraha fi din”: There is no compulsion in religion.

You want to lighten your heart’s load? Do it, in whatever way makes sense to you. Don’t listen to finger-waggers, or brow-beaters, or soapbox megamouths competing to tell you what to think – whether in the Guardian’s comment section or the madrasa. Nobody has the right to throw you off the scent your own intuition will pick up, given the space and the freedom to do so.

Everyone believes in something, even it is the twisted notion that they believe in nothing, or that belief itself is wrong. “To you your beliefs, and to me mine”. No ifs or buts. Let’s leave the trolls to their stinking dens and walk out into the open space of equanimity.

The Hate Crowd

Hit in the stomach by a visual feed of hate comments – directed at others, but so what? It still hits like a bad virus, bilious in its fury, toxic in its loathing – I am shaken up by the decision that some people take: to hate someone.

It almost seems like it could be anyone. The desire to hate is there; the hatred is already frothing at the cauldron of the hater’s belly, waiting for a bypasser to scald.

And there is always a ‘reason’ to scald them. They look wrong. They aren’t part of the comforting pattern of looks and backgrounds that make the hater’s world feel less frightening and bad. They must think something awful about the rest of humanity; she’s a woman in a headscarf, so therefore – by extension, a looong extension made up of broken lines and dodgy converter plugs – she must hate gays, consent to be beaten by her husband, and be in favour of hangings/nuclear enrichment/totalitarian Islamic rule for the entire ‘civilised’ universe.

What I want to ask these insane, poison-lensed haters, is this: what do you get out of hating? Think about it completely selfishly for a minute. How are you happier, or better off in any way, by carrying around this cauldron of foaming toxic waste inside you? Do you believe that you are harming the person you hate? Do you believe that you are superior to him, and therefore he deserves to be hated? Does that feeling compensate for the vileness you are carrying around inside yourself? Does it veil it so that you continue to believe, unaware,  that your hatred is his fault for being so bloody evil?

I really do not understand what makes hatred seem like a sensible, appealing lifestyle choice.  Does it make you look cool in front of your friends? Do they also carry around the same crucible of nastiness inside them? Are you just keeping up appearances?

The sheer ridiculousness of hating someone because, apparently, they hate you makes me even more likely to tear my hair out in a fit of frustration at the stupidity and self-destructiveness of humankind. It’s like there are millions of bigots, all looking into mirrors and saying: “You disgusting great &*£%! You think you’re so great, telling everyone else they’re wrong! Look how vile you are! Your beliefs are idiotic!! You think you’re better than everyone else!!! Why don’t you just shut the hell up??!!!”

The really horrible part of it is that I hate these people myself. I read racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-whoever comments and it makes me so angry I could throw my computer out of the window (incidentally a good way of avoiding reading them again in the future).

Hatred is poison, and it only poisons the one who chooses to carry it. The bigots are all the same, the Muslim extremists, the Muslim-haters. All of them have overlooked those beautiful, freeing lines in Quran: “Lakum dinakum wa liya din”: To you your beliefs, and to me mine; and “La ikraha fi din”: There is no compulsion in religion.

You want to lighten your heart’s load? Do it, in whatever way makes sense to you. Don’t listen to finger-waggers, or brow-beaters, or soapbox megamouths competing to tell you what to think – whether in the Guardian’s comment section or the madrasa. Nobody has the right to throw you off the scent your own intuition will pick up, given the space and the freedom to do so.

Everyone believes in something, even it is the twisted notion that they believe in nothing, or that belief itself is wrong. “To you your beliefs, and to me mine”. No ifs or buts. Let’s leave the trolls to their stinking dens and walk out into the open space of equanimity.