Fighting Islamophobia (even on Steemit!) with Poetry -- New Book


As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

This is why I'm especially proud to be part of a forthcoming anthology of inspiring poetry by Muslims, in an attempt to address the rampant Islamophobia -- yes, even on Steemit! (@steemcleaners, please, see the ugly hate being promoted on our platform by infamous troublemaker, @tommyrobinson).

It's my passionate wish that poetry can help to drive the darkness of prejudice out of hearts that have become hardened and narrowed by it, while also revealing the love and beauty in a spiritual tradition I know to be peaceful and hopeful -- aka Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.

As you will see from my poem, below, concerns of Muslims are the same as those of all of us: trying to live with grace, dignity and freedom. Please, spread poetry, not fear _/|\_


I'm being hollowed out, I feel it
in the subtle droop of skin and will,
Like the life stuffing were slowly
being spooned from me

My mind, too, is being emptied
of needless concerns
(such as, who's in charge)
traveling lighter, demanding less

One day, I'll finally slip out this
loosening body bag
Simply sling it over the shoulder
of my sturdy spirit.

—Yahia Lababidi

Muslim Voices in Contemporary Poetry
Coming soon from Lote Tree Press

Muslim Voices.jpg

Comments 20

Congratulations on your poetry being included in this anthology! You deserve it well.

I'm grateful to the publishers for bringing this anthology to light, as it gets tiresome for those of us defending Muslims, and other groups, who know by personal experience that the vast majority are good, decent folk, who simply want to create peaceful and productive lives for themselves and their families.

I sincerely hope that this book cracks the narrative wide open, and gets people discussing the issues openly, as that is the best way of changing the narrative for the better.

Everyone, of every race, religion, creed, color, or whatever other label is used, is an individual, with individual opinions, beliefs, wants, needs, and desires, which may or may not have a thing to do with whatever group they are being lumped in with.

And, far too often, people are targeted for the "sins" of a group to which they don't even belong, such as an acquaintance of mine in Nashville, who has had anti-Muslim invectives hurled at him because he is from Egypt, in spite of being a Coptic Christian by faith.

People assuming they know, rather than taking the time and effort to ask, is a really bad habit in our nation. I hope that one day we'll mature as a people.

Everyone is deserving of respect and love, no matter what.

Peace to us all, to all peoples, nations, species, and wilderness areas, and to the World.

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19.11.2019 17:30

Thanks, @crescendoofpeace for your solidarity, and I'm sorry about your Egyptian friend...

Hate, by its very nature, is irrational and blind. I know, being the victim of a very serious hate crime that I'm still reeling from...

Deeply saddened to find dangerous characters on Steemit going unchecked, inciting violence. In addition to this unsavory Robinson character, I've discovered there are those like him with darkness in their hearts who support one another, such as @coolstuck who likens to the Quran to Mein Kampf and this other worrisome sort, @BrianofLondon who actually resteems this vile nonsense and then goes on to discount the Palestinian cause as well as apartheid in South Africa in the same deranged post.

@Steemcleaners, please, keep Steemit clean!

19.11.2019 21:08

Hi there thanks for your Sufi insights, I respect the Sufi tradition and any mystical path that transcends boundaries. It's a wide gap between Sufi and Jihadi. Both exist in Islam, as we see in many countries. Let's choose the peaceful path.

I am a South African who grew up in a Christian culture but left it for the mystical path of Hinduism. Apartheid was bad in my youth but now after 25 years of democracy, the transition has been mostly peaceful.
Palestine is a big concern, with the human rights abuse and genocide basically coming from the American-backed Israeli settlers and occupiers or colonialists. They are the new Apartheid culture. We need more Sufi universal insight, not Jihad or Zionist extremism.
Thanks for the poetry.

20.11.2019 12:19

Good day, friend. _/|\_

I can see we face the same general direction. It's not quite fair to say both Sufism and Jihadism exist in Islam, and to leave it at that. To begin with, Sufism has an illustrious history, while Jihadism is a political aberration. More importantly, between both of those 'extremes' there exists around 2 billion moderate Muslims, who are the primary victims of violence inflicted upon them by their governments, terrorists, and the fear and loathing of others...

Which is, of course, not to suggest that as Muslim community, we are not in need of some serious house-keeping. If you're interested in reading further, perhaps, you might appreciate my essay on the beauty of Islam and our current difficulties:

Wishing you continued peace and healing on your spiritual path and thank you for your trust in sharing it. Also, I am grateful for your kind and insightful words regarding Palestine and America's complicity in emboldening Israel/settlers.

Glad you stopped by and enjoyed the poetry :)

20.11.2019 15:38

Yes, unfortunately it seems to be the nature of organized religion to be perverted by certain among its adherents, who then seek to force their viewpoints upon everyone else.

Radicalized fundamentalist far right Christians are, in my opinion, every bit as dangerous as Jihadists, and are in fact largely responsible for the American support of the militaristic abuses of Palestinians by the Israelis, which frankly even a lot of Israelis are vocally opposed to.

And they aren't even doing it to support Israel . . . they really want to bring about the End Times, as they see them, and their long-awaited "Rapture." And they don't seem to care who they hurt in the process.

These same far-right evangelical Christians are also largely responsible for getting Trump elected, who is a danger in his own right, particularly since the only thing he cares about in the world is himself, to the exclusion of everyone and everything else.

He is pretty much the antithesis of Christian ideals, making any Christians who support him hypocrites by definition, not that that's exactly newsworthy. Hypocrites fill most of the churches.

And these radical Christians are typically the first among his supporters to use violent means of shutting down those who believe differently.

Which, in a nutshell, is why I walked away from organized religion long ago. I am a person of faith, and I respect those of all faiths, but my own faith is between myself and the Divine.

I have great respect for the Sufi traditions, and have loved Sufi poetry for years. I'll check out your essay later. Looking forward to reading it.

21.11.2019 10:40

You are not alone, my friend, in walking away from organized religion -- spiritual-but-not-religious is the new movement.

Yes, it's sad how much in common radical extremists have with one another (Christian, Muslim, etc...) & little to do with faith.

Once, again, I hope many eyes see your meaty response so that they benefit from your uncommon sense! Have a lovely day _/|\_

21.11.2019 16:43

Indeed, there are a whole lot of us spiritual-but-not-religious types running around these days.

Have a terrific evening!

22.11.2019 01:20

@yahialababidi, I wanted to send you this poem yesterday, as I thought it was apropos considering our conversation, but I had trouble getting it from my phone to my laptop until now.

This is my own version of Radical Love, which is the name of this poem, written in 2005:

Radical Love

Let love inform my being
infuse my thoughts
determine my actions

Let love inspire my dreams
my desires
my prayers

Let love guide me in all my dealings
and be foremost in my mind

Let me love before I speak
before I email
before I accuse

Let me be the definition of love
let it rearrange my every cell
my every memory
my every pain

Let me live in the light of love
and let the light of the love in me
pour out onto all I see

I am here to love you

Whether you love me or hate me
I am here to love you

Whether you open my door
or steal my car
I am here to love you

I might not like you in that moment, but
I am here to love you

Because loving you
honors my Spirit
and the Spirits of those before me
those I Love

Let my love heal the sick
calm the frightened
soothe the angry

Let my love feed the starving
comfort the dying
save our planet

Let my love burn so brightly
that hatred, fear, and violence are consumed
and exist no more

Let my love pave the way
to new worlds and universes
with resources intact
so we can learn from our mistakes
and do it right next time

Let the light of the love in me
Pierce the darkness
in the hearts of men

Let my love be a beacon to the lost
an anchor for the despairing
a shelter for those in chaos

Let the light of the love in me
clear the fog of illusion away
and elevate truth
to its rightful place of honor

Let me be the definition of love
let it pour out over all I see

Let the light of the love in you
join with that in me
and set us all free.

6/7 July 2005 Approx 2 AM

Love IS the essence of the Divine, whatever name or tradition we choose, and, if we honor ourselves, we realize that it is our own inner essence as well.

In this I am as imperfect as any mere human, but this came from my heart and soul, and speaks truth to me even now.

In Florida, I used to perform my poetry at local readings, and this is, unsurprisingly, among those that seemed to resonate most with those present.

We are here to love, and to remember who we really are, which is the essence of love.

22.11.2019 20:12

I didn’t realize that you wrote poetry.. Thank you, for sharing this uplifting & inspiring affirmation.

Will try to hold onto it as I go through my day. Stay blessed 🙏🏼✨

24.11.2019 17:58

"Knowledge leads to unity, but Ignorance to diversity."

"Lovers of God do not belong to any caste."

By Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa

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19.11.2019 20:19

Beautifully stated & I fully agree. _/|\_

United we stand, divided we fall ...

19.11.2019 21:12

Wow... to say I'm glad to see something like this on Steemit is an understatement. Maybe cos I've not really been around in a while never knew it virus had spread here too. So sad. Just when I thought that we have at least one community, safe from the traditional social media, where Islamophobia is not present. Guess I was wrong.

The light in the beauty, they refuse to see
one from the purest of sources, fine like the deep blue sea
a world free of bigotry, my dream to see

Well done @yahialababidi. More power to your elbow and the rest of the guys.

20.11.2019 07:20

Bless your heart, @reservedsingle for your sweet words. _/|\_

Since you seem a sympathetic spirit, perhaps, you will enjoy this book review/meditation of mine on the beauty found in Islam.

20.11.2019 15:25

Thank you @yahialababidi

11.12.2019 14:14

Thanks, for reading _/|\_

11.12.2019 16:47

Great posting

24.11.2019 14:08

This is very beautiful, my friend. I deeply loved it. The book, your poetry and the picture. Sublime.

I like very much the mystical branch of Islam. I posted a video of Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah in this article, 4 months ago, where he speaks about beauty and truth as the core of Islam.

Nonetheless, I don't really think that the current criticism against Islam is "islamophobic"... Everything in our societies must be open to scrutiny and criticizing, even religions (all religions). And we know that every religion has very questionable and deplorable traditions. We should not get surprised that many people feel discomfort about those traditions.

Of course, there are some real islamophobic groups out there, generally supremacist ones; but they are not the majority of people that simply disagree with Islam.

25.11.2019 06:19

Very grateful for your generous and enthusiastic response. It's heartening to find someone on Steemit who appreciates Sufism and I look forward to checking out your article and Dr Abd-Allah video.

If you're interested, here is a book review I've written that speaks of the beauty of Islam and also problems of Muslims:

Peace, Yahia

26.11.2019 01:55

Wow, dear @yahialababidi, your views are deep and beautiful. I like very much your article, and I'd love to read your books.

I plan to do that later, when my situation improves a bit more for my current projects. Meanwhile I am following your posts, to enjoy more of your writings.

26.11.2019 09:14

You're a thoughtful and sensitive soul, @spirajn. I'm grateful that my words speak to you and hope your situation improves, soon. _/|\_

26.11.2019 14:54