Gone and Found by: Mo

Lyrics:

“Gone And Found”

Hollow, old ghost
What’s the news, what’s the news
How I’ve longed to see your face again
Don’t look at me like I’m a stranger
Don’t be scared, there is no danger
We pretend that we don’t care
So let’s just take a walk and leave it there

‘Cause sometimes things just don’t turn out as you meant for
And that’s what late night city lights are there for
You asked me back then what I wanted to be
But I didn’t really know, did you?

My mama said, “Someday you are gonna shine.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
“You’ll meet a guy who’ll show you a love that’s kind.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
I’ll run away and follow a strange old sign
(Dare no others would do)
You know I am sorry I let you down
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)

What did you expect from these red lips?
Curses laughter and a tender kiss
Hours went by and you got it all
Empty walls in a hollow city
What was I to do but flee?
When all my thoughts lay far beyond the sea

(Let’s go get lost)

And sometimes life just don’t turn out as you meant for
And that’s what late night city lights are there for
So let’s go get lost, we’re gonna go
Let us do it, my old friend

My mama said, “You will be wise this time.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
“Eager to ride on the waters of your own mind.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
Dimwitted man, you know I am so [?]
(Dare no others would do)
Someday the wave’s gonna show me the way to the sand
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)

Let’s go get, let’s go get, let’s go get lost

My mama said, “Someday you are gonna shine.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
“You’ll be a woman, soft in your heart and kind.”
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
I’ll run away and follow a strange old sign
(Dare no others would do)
You know I am sorry I let you down
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)

I’ll run away and follow a strange old sign
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)
You know I am bound to be gone and found
(Don’t know where I’m traveling to)

(Dare no others would do
I don’t know where I’m traveling to)

A Letter to my Children: Words I Want You To Know Before My Death

Dear son(s) and daughter(s),

I am writing this letter to you with all of my heart and conviction. I ask the Lord to guide me in my words for this letter is not meant for me, but for you. I’ve never written a letter like this until now and I want to let you know the truth. I want you to hear the truth before someone else tells you. I want to expose my own flaws so you can learn from me. I want you to question everything that I am telling you because I want you to educate yourself and never take anyone’s word as truth. It wasn’t until now that I’ve realized how important it is to think for yourself and to obliterate all boundaries. Never restrict yourself even if others tell you to do so. You will never know your full potential until you begin questioning boundaries and why they were put there in the first place.

First, I want to tell you that I love you and you are beauty. Not only are you beautiful but you are smart. You are more than your physical appearance and this world will make you think that you’re only what you are outwardly, but that is a lie. You are personality, words unspoken, stories untold and a life ready to be lived in search of truth. I want you to know that no person can tell you that you are ugly because you’ve been created by the Most Perfect and anything created by the Most Perfect is beautiful. There is no mistake in your creation. There is nothing wrong with your hair, your complexion, your name, or anything in which they may define you outwardly. Never define your existence by superficial factors.

Secondly, never stop seeking truth. Always run towards truth. Never allow anyone to tell you that truth is simple to obtain because it is not. Truth is not readily available to those that aren’t willing to hunt for it. You may never find it in your textbooks at school or in your local library, but you must search for it until your soul finds contentment. I remember listening to a lecture a year ago and found something interestingly true. As people, our hearts will never be content when there is chaos residing within it. Our hearts can’t accept falsehood because this is opposite of truth. So, when you find truth your heart will be most content. It wasn’t until I read about Malcolm X that I learned that as people we can be in search of truth over the period of an entire lifetime. We may have to undergo several transformations until we become content with ourselves. So, never stop striving for truth and once you get it…hang onto it, inshaALLAH.

Thirdly, never stop educating yourself about the world. You will find yourself being stopped from seeking the knowledge of the world by narrow-minded people, but never listen to them. Always remember that an educated mind is free. Knowledge is power. You are your own person that is filled will potential. When you seek knowledge…give it to others. Never keep hidden what you learn for what you learned can free another person’s mind too. Never believe that education is something you should take for granted because there’s been those before you and now that have died to get educated. Also, be critical of the knowledge you learn. I want you to deconstruct, break-down, analyze, and think critically about the content of that in which you digest.

Fourth, I want you to remember that we are all sisters and brothers in humanity. Never forget that. We were created to know one another, not to despise each other. We are all working together and striving to keep ourselves above water. So, make your existence on this Earth worthwhile. Serve others and do it well. Do everything with ihsan. Do everything with excellence and to the best of your abilities. Never turn a blind-eye to the ills of the world for this perpetuates the cycle of social-ills that are present. You must enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Never stand around and accept bad. Always aim to make the world a better place.

Fifth, I want you to love. I want you to love with all of your heart. I want to aid in helping the world by instilling love in yourself, others and those that will come after you. Love is the key to this world. In loving someone, you must respect them. So, love and don’t regret doing so.

Sixth, I want you to keep your head up and never stop aiming for greatness. You are powerful. You are unstoppable. You are individuals of greatness. I know how hard it is to see the world and its inadequacies, but you have to keep going no matter what. We just have to do this. We can’t give up even when the world pushes us to our knees. You have to get up and keep going. This world can’t contain the power that lies within your mind and your will.

Seventh, I want you to be you. It’s a whole world out there. So, go out there and shine. Never negotiate yourself in order to please others. There’s beauty in you. There’s this thing called mass-media and it will steer you into being this and that. However, you are you. So, constantly evaluate yourself and your goals. Do you.

Eighth, I just want you to know that I love you and I am proud of you. I know you have big things in mind, so go out there and do them. Never believe you can’t achieve your dreams because you can. I am trying to achieve my dreams too, so just know that you can do so as well. We may not achieve our dreams in a year or two years, but we can achieve them. So, never stop aiming for achieving your dreams. However, if you don’t achieve your dreams or all of them I am still proud of you. I will always find you as a success. I will always keep my heart open for you.

Lastly, I am writing this letter not just for you, but for me. I want you to know that life is hard and confusing at times. Sometimes you may encounter difficulties and hardship, but you can’t allow that to stop you in your goals and dreams. All you can do is just keep going and have self-confidence. I’m writing this at 21-years old, so just know that I’m still trying to discover myself in the midst of this thing called life.

And to you my future children, I want you to know that every word in this letter is meant for you from the bottom of my heart. If I happen to not be alive to give or read this letter to you, I just want you to know that your mom loved you and only wanted the best for you in this life. And may the Creator give you strength and tawfiq (success). Ameen.

Love,
Your mom

Dealing with Identity: Who are you? Are you REALLY You?

A question I am thinking about is this: “What does it mean to be you?”

Let’s think about that for a second. People think about this. Some people may not care, but its a big question. Who are you? What makes you the person you are? What does it mean to be the person that you are? If you’re from there are you expected to be like that? If you’re from here are you expected to be like this? If you’ve done that then are you expected to go through that? What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be a mother when you never had a mother there to teach or guide you? What does it mean to be a father? What does it mean to be a father when your father was everything except for a father? What does it mean to be a Muslim? Does it mean you fit into a stereotypical role that one think they should play in order to be accepted within their communities? What does it mean to be a Muslim man/a Muslim woman? Does it mean you drop your culture/your language in order to pick up something else? What does it mean to be a woman/a man? What does it mean to be with another person in a marriage? Does it mean must be exactly alike?

In dealing with these big questions on identity, it is important to figure them out. Yes, there are more questions to be asked about identity so ask them. Ask yourself. Sometimes we fall into these superficial roles of just being who we are told to be. We just do what culture tells us. We just do what others expect of us. However, who are we? Am I really me? Or am I just what I was told to be? Or am I the person I want people to think I am? Am I putting on a front? Or am I really me? Am I really the person I am choosing to be? And how do I choose to be that person? What things make me who I am? And is that okay? Or not? These questions are all dealing with you. These questions are dealing with me. These questions are dealing with all of us. We can choose who we want to be. No other person can make that choice, but you. You are the author and the composer of your own life. You are the individual pulling out the pen and marking up your own sheet of paper. You are putting the notes down to this sheet of music. You are the lyricist to that song. This is you. You are the one holding the pen to that piece of paper. So, ask yourself “Who am I?”. In asking myself this question, I thought about something my mother told me this morning.

Today, my mom was like “Lauren, I don’t think marriage is about the man doing one thing and the woman doing another. Sometimes you have to do multiple things at once” and I agreed with her. So many times I would always say how simple things were. Allah said the man is the breadwinner and so the woman should worry about the home. However, what does this statement mean? In the Islamic tradition, Hagar was left with just her son Ishmael in Mekkah fending for herself after prophet Abraham left her due to Allah’s command. So, at that moment she became a woman having to protect, provide and maintain for herself and her child. She became independent. She became every role possible because it was necessary. So, when we think about the people we are and the role(s) we are expected to put on it is important to think critically about this. We sometimes try to simplify our identities when they are constantly changing and intersecting with one another.

How does a young father in his early 20’s that hasn’t spoken to or been with his daughter for the first three years of her life deal with his own child upon seeing her for the first time? What does he say? What would be the reaction(s) of his baby-girl? How does he raise her upon his religion when the parent she spends time with is of another faith? How does he mend these realities? Is there a black-and-white answer? Should there be?

How does a mother in her early 30’s deal with the issues of identity when she has two children with a third on the way? How does she mend her broken past pains and confusion of who she is with her current situation? How does this soul-searching mother with a broken heart find her way in parenting children when the world has taken her heart and placed upon it it’s footprints of oppression and devastation?

How does a young woman in her 20’s deal with the issue of marriage and fornication when her parents are wanting her to finish school until taking that next step in her life? Does she continue to fight for her right to get married to preserve her honor and chastity? Or does she fall into her desires? Should she find a hobby?

How does a young man in his later teenage-years find purpose when he is blinded by the world and without a role-model to guide him through this journey of life? How do he mend the world of those around him with the reality of the world in which he lives? How does he find himself when his parents are struggling to survive and with a father that never taught him the roles/the rules of manhood? Does he find this manhood in music/a textbook/movies/magazines/ads on billboards?

What do an older woman in her 50’s do when her daughters encounter the same issues she is facing? How does this mother in her 50’s tell her daughters that their roles as women and wives aren’t simple and pinpointed in a manual? How does she guide her daughters as wives when she is still fighting the issues they are trying to solve themselves?

What does a man/woman do when they are stuck between their religion and their ethnic/cultural identity? Is this a problem? How do they sort through this? Is there really a problem between the two? How do they find themselves within this religious-community when they are expected to play out an identity that is not them? How do they sustain their inner-most being when those within the religious-community are fighting against them due to ignorance/racism/sexism? How do they go forth? How do they fight for their right to stay and be themselves without having to assimilate(to fit in/take on the identity of the people)? Should they risk being different and make their own mark or just fit in until there is progress?

When we look at the different problems that some of us face when it comes to identity it is important to look closely at ourselves. Why do many of us try to define definite roles to ourselves and others? When we look at the roles that we have to play as people it becomes hard and sticky. We can’t always play one role. We can’t always play two. Sometimes we have to play other’s roles. What do we do when we find ourselves playing another person’s role(s)? Is this okay? Is this problematic? Where do we begin if we are trying to figure this out?

Many times people tell us to stay in our place. To not think too much about things. To simply accept our roles and leave it at that. There are no questions. We should just sit and follow through with culture/religion without thinking further. Why is this an okay answer? One thing that Allah tells people is to ponder his signs and to look around. We are told to think and to use our reasoning skills. We should look at the world we live in and think about the various identities that makes it up. In these various identities there people from different backgrounds, races, cultures, languages and lifestyles. We have to sit down and ask ourselves the bigger questions that no other person can answer for us. It is only us when we come across these questions with answers that we can only give. It’s not the responsibility of others to show us who we are. It is only us to discover us and what it means to be us. Yes, we are inspired and influenced by others, but we have to know about us. We have to be sure in who we are or else we will never be okay with just thinking we think we think we think we know who we are. We have to atleast be okay with ourselves and acknowledge that as long as we are in the world we will continue to grow as people, inshALLAH.

And I think it is important to remember something and that something is a quote from Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong said “What we play is life”

Their Life. Your Charity. Save A Life.

In the summer of 2008, a working-class family of four fell into homelessness for a period of months with only clothes, hope and each other. This family was like any other family. Simply trying to keep their head above water. However, they were experiencing a problem that many would usually turn a blind-eye to in their daily-lives. This family didn’t stand on your local corner, under a bridge, or on a street. Unfortunately, an economic-depression slipped up into their place of comfort-their home. Leaving them income-less and homeless with two teenagers that would learn the meaning of surviving and living on the outskirts of society.

In being stripped of everything that would make a family feel secure, they packed up their lives in their old car and left a life that they had once lived for a new life of instability. In finding themselves isolated from friends and family-members, they held onto their pride and dignity even in the face of despair and pain. In an act of self-preservation, the family of four never spoke of their struggle to survive with others, even between each other. In being left with nothing but each other, they soon turned to begging in hopes of having a place to lay their heads at night. In receiving money, the father, head of his household, soon turned to gambling in hopes of winning money to escape homelessness. Sadly, this act soon became another catalyst to increasing discord between the family-members. In between living and death, the family would live with others and stay in motels- sometimes a different one on a daily-basis. In having to deal with the struggles of surviving and trying to cling onto hope, the world became synonymous to living in a nightmare.

The family soon found themselves traveling down empty roads, lonely highways, and looking out windows to a world that excluded them. They had nothing. No money. No home. And soon, little hope for a future. The two parents would soon become argumentative with each other and doubtful about their tomorrows. Their two teenaged-children would later become clueless about their own survival. Every single day for the family became harder and harder because resources were running out. The charitable acts of others wouldn’t last forever. The hotel and motel-rooms would come to an end and need the next day’s payment. Sadly, this reality would force the family to pack up the little they had and to continue to some unknown place with unfamiliar faces. The world never seemed so cold and empty until then.

The smell of a homemade meal never lingered through their noses over those months. The warm feeling of being able to lie upon their own beds was never a reality for them over those months. The happy feeling of inviting over family and friends was never a reality for them over those months. The sound of children running up and down the street was never a reality for them for those months. The familiar smile from the postman was never a reality for them for those months. Over those months, the family of four found themselves living a life that was anything but the reality they once knew. Those months became their new reality. The family had a new reality that forced them to live in their old car at times, to change motel-rooms on a daily basis, to walk to local stores if the car ever had problems, to smile and to look presentable to those around them.

Unfortunately, the upcoming year for school would be starting for the two teenaged-children. They would be faced to lie about their summer and the wonderful vacation they didn’t really have. They would be forced to say no to friends about invitations and gatherings. The school would soon question their actual home-address once the mail was returned back to its sender. Every new day would seem like a lie and the smiles they would situate on their faces would only make the pain of homelessness and worthlessness penetrate even deeper in their hearts. The one thing that their friends and teachers didn’t know was the harsh reality that they would never know where they would sleep or do their homework after coming from school once the bell sounded for the end of the school day. An unspoken pain and hurt suddenly had set in for the two teenagers because they knew that their world was not the same as their classmates. They were homeless and without an address. And they were invisible.

As days, weeks, and months passed, the family of four soon got assistance in moving into their own home. They would soon find themselves situated in their own place across from the school. The mother found herself with a full-time job and decent income to provide and maintain. The father would soon find himself working odd-jobs to supplement his wife’s income. However, the pain they were feeling didn’t leave overnight. It didn’t even leave months later for they all could remember the different motel-rooms and roads they had once traveled to just find a place to lay their heads at night. As time went by, they found themselves reverting back to the lifestyle they had knew once before. They were reclining upon their couches, laying upon their own beds, and resting in their own home at night. The return of family-members coming over for visits would become a regular habit with occasional visits from their children’s friends. The world became better, but not perfect for they knew there were others like themselves that were experiencing homelessness on a daily-basis in conditions less-viable for survival. In undergoing their journey of survival, they were happy to know there were people willing to give them charity for a hotel or motel-room. There were people willing to give groceries when there wasn’t any for them to eat. They were most grateful for the charity that people gave to them for they were struggling without it.

In reading this story, I hope everyone will take time to think about charity and how it can save a person or even a family. As a Muslim, I believe the world is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves if there are people who are without their bare necessities in life. This family isn’t any different from the next family. They just fell upon some hard times and that’s understandable, especially in the world that we live in. So, remember the next person you may see on the corner, under the bridge, or walking next to you in a store. That person could be one of the individuals in the story I told. We can’t pinpoint the poor and needy just by looks. We can’t pinpoint the poor and needy just by their lack of material-items. The poor and the needy comes in all forms and sometimes it will surprise you the most to know that those who are struggling are those just trying to save face by simply wearing a smile. And this story isn’t meant to make you feel guilty for this family’s homelessness, but it is a story of awareness and realism. Our world isn’t always black and white. It isn’t always as transparent as we may think. The world that we live in is quite confusing at times and even chaotic. So, just remember that the world is a place of smiles when many are hiding their frowns. Furthermore, remember that sadaqa or charity is due upon every one of us, so don’t withhold whatever you may have for it was Allah that gave you such blessings. May Allah give us strength and a helping hand for those that need it the most. Ameen.

I Wonder

I wonder if you know that this oh-so-frequent
Pain will never free me from a constricted heart
That this permanently-disfigured-no-longer-pumping-blood-but pain
Heart will never be the same
That sometimes I feel less than human, partially dead
Always leaving me breathless, sometimes motionless
T hat this pain seems to linger even in good times
That this pain is always triggered
By a trigger that kills another young soul on the 5’oclock news
I wonder if you know that bullets will penetrate even the hardest of hearts,
The hardest of thugs and wannabes

I wonder if you know that your dark-chocolate-glistening skin radiates when the sun hits it
Making you the epitome of black beauty
I wonder if you know that I cry tears of hope and mercy
That I pray for you even when I’m left speechless
And mentally unprepared to speak

I wonder if you know that I lay awake at night
Repeating your name just to think that everything will be alright and that your soul will never be taken in the darkest of night

I wonder if you know that you make life
Seem a little less dark even when you’re stuck
Finding your way in this confusing world
Always thinking that we can fight the world
Even if we aint Batman and Robin
Feeling as if we could be young and never grow old until God took our souls
Where your smile will always leave a blueprint in my heart
And your pain will always stain me eternally
Leaving me half-emptied and without completeness
Your essence is apart of my presence
You will always be my inspiration even in your absence
But sadly,
This feels like another rerun
Another black-boy running after bittersweet dreams
That will leave him breathless in these streets
Another mother paralyzed and deeply bruised
Feeling like a fatal casualty
With a shattered heart that can never be pieced together with words of comfort

I wonder if you know that death doesn’t discriminate
That one day your name will earn its fame and glory
And you will be the star of your own obituary
I wonder if you’re listening, finding your way in those dark streets
Because we miss you
And bullets will penetrate even the hardest of hearts.

A Painful Love

The little girl within her wants to cry
Wrap her hands around the waist of her mother
place her head upon her chest
just to hear the beating of her mother’s heart
anyone’s heart
just to know that she is living
finding her image in the mirror as fragmented as her bruised soul
dying daily from the sweet words of a man
that has left her lifeless
life less than sweet
Sweet and innocent before she was turned out
Out came the reality of being young and in love
in love without precaution
precautions about men and being love
she a young woman
a woman that has grown closer to He
realizing that He has placed within her womb
a young boy that will massage her heart back to health
bring her back to life
life was more than memories of sweet words and his unfulfilled promises
the pulling of her flesh within her body brings her into tears
bleeding internally
yearning for more than an occasional conversation and an occasional visit
she bleed tears of regret
feeling the kicking of a being needing her sweet words
needing her comfort and love
she grows everyday
growing into a woman that has only yearned to be his counterpart
part girl part woman
unable to hold back her tears
unable to stop wondering why she is another woman that has fallen for a dream
a dream of true love
a dream of marital bliss and glam
the little girl in her is racing to the place she calls safe
finding her way next to the chest of her mother
hearing the beating of a heart
that hasn’t stopped beating
hasn’t stopped pumping
a woman now
a girl she isn’t
finding herself dangling between the two
dangling between being that girl that just want to cry away her pain
and being that woman that just want to question why she has grown up too fast
this is just another narrative
another experience of another woman
finding her way in a world in which sweet words and promising promises are not always so sweet or promising

The Fatherless Children

She has become the father of a fatherless boy
Manning him up for a world that is absent of real men
Men planting seeds in a world of fatherless children
Leaving women picking up the pieces of shattered hearts
Wiping away tears of hurt and devastation
Telling her children that mommy will always love them
that mommy will always be there to pick up the pieces of a shattered identity
not quite understanding why mommy is also father
Why mommy is the father that they never had
Why mommy is the hero that father could never be
Why mommy is their strain of hope in a cold world when father was gone
Why mommy will always be the one to keep them going even as a clan of fatherless children

Abir Islam: My Father and I

My father died when I was eleven years old.

A man of righteousness, as my mother described him.

A man that never gave up doing what was right and always held his family at the centre of his heart.

I love my father, but I did not get to know much of him.

I can remember how he taught me to pray at the masjid and taught me about the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

He was truly a father I wish could’ve taught me how to become a man

I loved him for how he showed me how important it was to be Muslim.

We didn’t have much as I grew up with him.

He worked long hours, but he made up with longer hours to spend with us.

It was my mom, my older sister, my dad and I.

Now, I am fifteen years old and I ask myself if I am following the way of the Prophet Muhammad.

My father told me there was not a man who was as great as the Prophet Muhammad.

Every Friday, my father would sit the whole family down and tell us about the Prophet Muhammad and tell us stories.

Now, I wish I had that, but I remember them because I wrote them down just like my dad told me.

I wrap my turban the same way my father wrapped his.

I keep my thobe above my ankles and I let my beard grow just as the Prophet Muhammad, his companions, and my father.

I tell others about the example of the Prophet Muhammad and I learn from the imam about the Prophet Muhammad and his companions now.

I will never stop doing what is right and I will always love my religion because I know it is true.

And because I am Abir Islam.