Victims of Xenophobia

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I took the above photograph when I visited the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, Ontario. It is one style of Arabic calligraphy that translates to “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”. In Arabic it is pronounced as “bismillahi rahmani raheem”

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I wrote the following poem based on xenophobic backlash that Muslims and some non-Muslim minorities are facing in North America (especially after the Paris attacks).

“Victims of Xenophobia”

Bismillahi rahmani raheem.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Breathe.

We forget
to breathe
in the midst
of
backlash.

*******************************************************

“They stone their women!”

“They murder homosexuals!”

“They force their women to cover!”

“They’re all guilty of honour killings!”

“They want to impose Shariah Law!”

“They force people to convert!”

“Their religion commands them to kill non-Muslims!”

“They call us infidels!”

“They hate our way of life!”

etc., etc., etc.

*******************************************************

I no
longer know
where to
begin
or how
to explain
when the
level
of knowledge
is practically
none.

So many cultures and histories.

So many cultures and histories.

So many cultures and histories.

So much appropriation.

So much politics.

*Breathe*

You can
spend an
eternity
correcting
and educating,
correcting
and educating,
yet you
are
worth
so much
more than
they see.

Your existence
does not
begin
when
they notice
the colour
of your
skin,
or when
they think
your culture
or religion
is
a sin.

You descend
from
a history
of
philosophers,
scholars,
writers,
and innovators.

Define
yourself not
by
who they
claim
you are
to be.

You police
yourself
constantly
to
erase
their fears.

Yet their
fears
root from
privilege.

Their tactics,
accusations,
generalizations,
have existed
for
centuries.

You are
simply
so much
more than
what
they “know”
and see.

You also
have the
right
to simply
breathe.

*Breathe.*

Bismillahi rahmani raheem.

___________________________________________________

And when it is said to them, Do not make mischief in the land, they say: We are but peace-makers. Now surely they themselves are the mischief makers, but they do not perceive.” (Quran 2:11-12).

And the servants of the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” (Quran 25:63).

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