In Stillness

The conversation’s changing.

Where we once betted on the odds of rain

or complained about it soaking our shoes again

our sighs are reserved for internet tides,

wifi droughts and downloads shy as brides

while all around a hurricane of data flies

so seek the stillness at its core. If you lean

your curious head out, seeking more

it will toss you about like a toy

but on the inside, everything’s joy.

Watch the furniture dance in its 

ludicrous attempts to allure

watch the frames grow dustier

– it collects as you resist –

and the longer you hold back 

from tumbling in among the grist

in this vortex of desire and need 

of unsatisfying gut-mind feeds

the anger in its frustrated call

blows red and heavies the wind

with firestones and curses.

You counterculture scum – you dare

defy the raging wheel of dunya?

It will pelt you with fearful rocks

pepper you with doubts against your cause

and it seems so hard and physical, but stay

in this tranquillity; don’t take the hooks it throws you,

let them drop. This wall of wind believes 

it will keep twisting on forever.

But it was born of lunar high tides

silent moon gazing in love and

whipping up the whistling waves

that roll in shaggy tubes onto the beach

and end up in rock pools and homes for

crabs, anemones. That force

was forged by other powers

and every one of them 

comes out of stillness

and in stillness it meets

its match.

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At Rumi’s Cave This Jum’ah

In a suburban street in North London there is a place called Rumi’s Cave. Not knowing my pseudonym had already destined me to end up there, I’ve been going as often as I can since this summer, when just one Eid celebration turned around my image of British Islam, my long-term disavowal of performing music, and introduced me to a fluid, open, loving community I’d always imagined existed but never quite believed could be real.

Today was Jum’ah; we got there late, walking the wrong way down Willesden Lane, and had to slink through the whole crowd (qibla is more or less towards the front door) while the imam was just about ending his khutba.

He finished with a hadith qudsi, a long one I had never heard before. One line stood out: “Do not ask for your sustenance of tomorrow, for I do not ask you for your prayers of tomorrow”. It was such a simple message I don’t want to clutter it with lyrical analyses. It just made me consider what I have right at this moment, the uselessness of freaking out about how much I need next month – even though feet still move forward in pursuit of food.

If you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in the fridge then you are in a state of abundance. Future hunger doesn’t make your stomach empty now. In prayer you have to be utterly present: it’s no good trying to stack prayers up in a nuclear bunker for such time as you’ll need them. They are absolutely present, and require absolute presence. “I am in need! Ya Rabb! I am in need!” Can anything make you more present? Is there any perfect future that could offer such immediacy?