Can’t is Dead

A country road and a bright sky

Can’t is Dead

Can’t is dead as old wood –
It was killed by could.

Can’t has tucked tail and fled –
scared off by a positive thought to the head.

Can’t departed in the ink of night
along with should have, would have, and might.

Can’t went to bed with a sleeping pill.
I’ll be happy instead with can and will.


– Wael Abdelgawad, 2010

Poem: Let Me Be True

Lonely desert road

As-salamu alaykum. Islamic Sunrays was founded to express ideas of inspiration and hope in Islam. I try to tackle issues of personal responsibility, keeping faith in difficult times, understanding Allah as a compassionate and merciful God, realizing that all of our lives have value and meaning, and following our dreams.

It may seem at first that the following poem does not fit with these ideas. I think it does, but I’ll leave that to you readers to decide, and I will not prejudice you by trying to explain my concept of the poem’s meaning. Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Let Me Be True

When it all comes down,
let me be true.
When seas thicken to brown,
and the world grows dim,
and love scatters
like ash on the wind,
and every man lies
to protect his skin:
let me be true to You Allah,
let me be true.

To the Messenger,
let me be near:
when in a dream I sat by him
against the beam of a wrecked ship,
he in a green turban, and a battle clashing…
we drank water, and breathed,
then he turned to me, and said,
“It’s not what you speak that matters
but what you do.”
To my heaven-blessed hero
let me be true.

To my love, let me be sincere.
I stand beneath a lamp
in a sphere of light
on a desert road. I don’t peer
into the night. I listen,
beard dewed with rain,
for the footsteps of her soul.
Let me lead her to Jannah
and fulfill the shepherd’s goal.
Let me soothe her sight,
carry her through storm,
and stand like a lion
as armies swarm on.

To my little daughter,
O Allah I implore you,
let me be forever true.
When she laughs and exclaims,
“You’re so strong, Baba!”…
When I speak God’s name
and she listens solemnly,
when she leaps and believes
that I’ll save her…
To her nature and her dreams,
let me be true.

To myself – the greatest dare –
let me be real as earth.
Through the cinder heaps
and broken cities of the world
let me sweep, through black smoke,
eyes streaming, striding
like a bear. Let me hold on
to Book and pen, knife and drum,
true love as gun and guide.
Let me bow down on the roadside,
true to the Lord of the Dawn.

Let me rise, head up,
bloody and torn
but voicing truth
to the livid eyes of death,
and spreading peace
where only hate was found.
Dress me in taqwa.
Feed me dust and bone
and find me where sea meets stone
at the Western edge
when, finally, every secret is dredged,
and the world is used and done.

Wael Abdelgawad, 10-25-2010
Fresno, California

“I Want” – a poem

Center of the Milky Way galaxy, as seen from Cherry Springs State Park

Center of the Milky Way galaxy, as seen from Cherry Springs State Park, one of the darkest places in the eastern USA. The Milky Way is a vast collection of more than 200 billion stars, planets, nebulae, clusters, dust and gas. Our own Sun and solar system are also part of the Milky Way galaxy. Brilliant Jupiter is the brightest "star" in the image, seen at left.

I Want

I want to travel back in time
and prevent my daughter
from jamming her toe in the shopping cart
and getting a blood bruise.
I want her to laugh so hard
she sprays her cereal and milk.
I want her never to shake her head
in shame or regret.
I want her to love Allah,
to raise hands in duaa,
to feel the deen in her veins
like a pulse.

I want my father
to be given the heart of a mustang,
and barring that
to welcome his Qadr with ease,
not squeezing his hands into fists
or cursing in pain.
Never mind what he thinks of me.
I want him to call on Allah
with joy and relief,
to find sweetness in the dusk of his life.
I want peace for him Yaa Allah;
caress him with endless rahma.

I want the Muslim people
to find their power, art,
science; and the quiet joy
of ‘ibadah and Allah’s love.
Let them step into the century
free from tyranny, standing tall
with Islam as hope and heart.
Let them drink from the bubbling spring
of the Quran.
Let them breathe.
Let them free themselves
and transform the world.

For myself, who knows?
Still I shake my head and laugh,
wondering who I am,
and when I’ll find my secret name.
I say with truth
that I don’t flinch,
no snarl crosses my face,
and I don’t lie about my past.
No acid fills my mouth. No fear,
no hate, no shame.
Instead, I want…
I want

to leap into the night sky
and grab a bushel of stars,
bring them to earth burning in my hands.
Once, in Tucson,
the morning sun turned everything
– the desert, the buildings,
even the men standing in line to eat –
yellow as an egg yolk.
I want to bottle that pure yellow
and drink it into my veins
until I’m hot and glowing
from heart to fingernails.

Laugh, I don’t care!
Yes I am a crazy man.
Let me tell you, somewhere
in a dingy cell a man is being beaten
and starved; somewhere
a sister is being raped;
I want to give my life
to put a stop to it,
and I offer it to Allah:
take it. I understand my words.
Use me for a purpose
and let me be remembered

for saving one life,
making one person weep in relief,
rescuing one soul from pain.
For myself I ask so little:
to be held in loving arms
and a sweet voice in my ear.
Is that too strange a dream?
To take a wife and hug her fiercely,
see my daughter learn the deen,
to graduate to black belt
after all these years.
To bring relief to pain…

For myself, so little.
In the end I forfeit all.
Yaa Allah, I surrender all
but your love! I give up
the stars and sun,
the run of time and coin,
and the embrace of love…
But for others:
my father, Salma,
and those I’ve lost; for the hurt and hungry
praying for relief… for them
I want, I want, I want.

– Wael Abdelgawad, July 2009

Springtime: a poem

Rainbow over mountain foothillsSpringtime

Springtime…
ocean air blows in fresh.
So much ahead:
green fields and blue skies…

Allah is kind
and He is still guiding you.
So be at peace, sister,
don’t you cry.

Innocent eyes watch you
and small hands seek yours;
they love you so much,
not knowing how you try;

but Allah knows all.
He sees your struggle,
and your sapphire soul
shines in His eyes.

One bright spring morning
you’re going to wake up singing
your heart so light
you could take off and fly.

You’ll walk up the hill
and come home to your true love;
you’ll dance and pray
and on life you’ll be high.

Until that morning
Know that you are precious:
a strong Muslim queen
with dignity and pride.

So hold up your head
and don’t fear tomorrow.
Be at peace, sister,
don’t you cry.

– Wael Abdelgawad, 2009

Poem: One God, One Deen, One Love

Hands making duaOne God, One Deen, One Love

One God
one deen
one Earth
one humanity
one struggling Ummah
one family
one woman

for my overflowing heart
and may Allah
guide her to me
no matter how far
with a smile
and a gentle,
gentle touch.

– Wael Abdelgawad

Poem: A Prayer for You (is a Prayer for Me)

Man standing in duaA Prayer for You (is a Prayer for Me)

I pray for you to smile, my queen,
to dream Quran in the night,
wake up and see the light
on the eucalyptus leaves
outside your window, and feel
the current of Allah’s love
turning in you like a water wheel;
because when you smile I am healed,
and so a prayer for you
is a prayer for me too.

When it’s winter in your mind
my heart is chilled and rimed
while my arms yearn to warm you.
When your back is bent and sore
I sense it from distant shores.
When you damn yourself
I have faith in you like a sunrise.
When your eyes well up with tears
mine too are hot as black tea,
so a prayer for you is a prayer for me.

I pray for your chest to rise
with flowered air, your spirit rich
as your chestnut hair. I pray
for you to laugh leafy and long,
your body whole and strong,
sweet as a summer wind,
and your spirit shy but filling in,
raising your head, saying what must
be said. I ask Allah all of this for you,
because I love you, I love you… You see…
a prayer for you is a prayer for me.

– Wael Abdelgawad, March 2010

Muslim Woman, Dressed in White – a Poem

Sunrays shining through the forestMuslim Woman, Dressed in White

Muslim woman
dressed in white
works so hard
prays at night.

Muslim woman
dressed in black
struggles up
a climbing path.

Muslim woman
dressed in red
sajdah mark
on her head.

Muslim woman
dressed in pink
she’s much stronger
than you think.

Muslim woman
dressed in green
walking banner
of the deen.

Muslim woman
dressed in blue
heart is strong
words are true.

Muslim woman
dressed in brown
in humble prayer
she bows down.

Muslim woman
dressed in grey
when she smiles
lights up the day.

– Wael Abdelgawad, 2010

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