Poem: Unbroken

White rhinoceros and baby


This won’t break me
or even knock me down.
I remember El Reno,
thick brown stone
and layers of cages,
a thousand men
in various stages
of hidden rages
and nothing past the wire
but wind and grass;
and I lived through that
with ten knuckles and a laugh.

Do I look crazy?
That’s okay.
Keep the games you play
and clear my way.
Break me? Come on now.
Drop a mountain
and I bust through stone.
I’m a pile of smile and bone
and when you see that light
in my eyes
you’d better step for your life.

Try, go on.
It’ll be fun.
Come with your Black Hand
and sideshow man.
Come with your entourage,
your knives and guns,
lies and history redone.
Grind my love
beneath your heel – I’ll reel it out
like blast wire,
and you’ll catch fire.

Betray me and I bleed
but that’s no test –
I fight bloody with the best.
So baby, I have to laugh.
Sorry if that lets you down
but I’m not wearing a frown
cause I’ve got Laa ilaha il-Allah
and as I look around
every glory
reflects the glory of the One,
and I stand unbroken
in the sun.

Wael Abdelgawad
January 17, 2011

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 266 articles by
6 Comments Post a Comment
  1. María M says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    I want to tell you a story, there was a person which life was in risk, this person was a believer, he asked God for help because he knew the magnitude of the darkness that was surrounding him; he was abroad,… at home, his family felt the danger, and they began to pray for him too; the people that wanted to hurt him, scaped afraid of what they saw; this man saved his life and could return to his family.

    Well, at least the male of the picture is not alone, I hope that means something.

    You know why I stopped practicing martial arts, everytime I attack, someone had to defend, and when someone attacked me I had to defend, and I was carrying that way of thinking in my life, defense-attack, attack-defense. Which is the way to go above this duality? You have mentioned it in your poem, Laa ilaha il-Allah, this is the best martial art I could ever discover, One, duality is in it, One.

    Talking about peace and war, the Peace I want comes from Him, love and hate, the Love I want comes from Him, … going to the highest form of everything will lead us to Him.

    …have you heard the story of the founder of Aikido(Moriehi Ueshiba)? Just a curiosity, there was a man that always wanted to fight with him, he always said no, but after so much insistence, he decided to accept,… the day arrived and one was in front of the other, the man began to sweat profusely just being there stopped, he couldn´t blink an eye, …. after a time he surrendered without being able to move from his place.
    Moriehi Ueshiba said: “Your Spirit is your real shield.” “Movement of Nature is deep and infinite, this is the real movement.”

    Just sharing thoughts.

    Thank you very much for sharing this poem.


    • wael says:

      Thanks for your comment, Maria. I do believe that all strength and power is with Allah. And the spirit is vastly stronger than the body.

      But I also train in martial arts, because I live in the real world, and in the real world, if someone comes to attack me or my family, I will defend them. This is natural. Even a bird will defend its babies. I love the idea of total nonviolence in the tradition of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., but in practice I think that force must sometimes be opposed with force.

      But this poem, even though it uses the language of combat, is not really about fighting. It is about surviving hardship, surviving betrayal, and coming through it with a smile and a laugh, knowing that Allah is with you, and that the world is beautiful.

      • María M says:

        …You are a man, …. I am a woman, you are right about defending, and I thank God he hadn´t put me in those trials where physical strength is needed.

        And about betrayal, hardship,…that makes us stronger, thank to those that offer themselves for us to become stronger. I always think that the one that damages me, loves me in a way nobody else does, I would not respond with damage if I am awake and cold enough to discern it, ( I always ask God to Forgive them for what they have done and me if I think anything bad about them), I don´t normally laugh at that, maybe with time will come a smile to my Heart thanking them for being in my life for me to learn, but I would separate from them as far as I can, and you know when I see that I´ve done the right thing, when that situation doesn´t come to me ever again. At that point, I say Alhamdulillah, I´ve learnt the lesson once for all, insha´Allah.

        You know it is so easy to see how we are damaged by others, but so difficult to see when we are damaging others. How many times we think we are doing our best and someone is being hurt?

        Just sharing more thoughts.

        I agree with you, knowing that Allah(swt) is with us, the world turns different, Alhamdulillah.

        I´m trying to go deeper in total nonviolence, insha´Allah.

  2. Shireen says:

    haha… that has to end with a “betta recognizeeeee!!” .or a ‘boooyaa’ or something…. but it end perfectly remembering all things are from Allah swt .. Love it MashaAllah!!!

    .. I love the “drop a mountain and I’ll break through stone” !! Awesome!

  3. Shireen says:

    The words hit my core, and my reaction is a chuckle and a booyaa 🙂 lol.. Not out of aggorance..but pain is hard to measure and some people they throw salt on wounds by holding onto their egos. And yes…you smile, and you laugh because when your intention is for Allah swt alone, Insha’ALlah you will never be amongst the losers. Not to say we don’t fault or cry ….but some respond with honor and integrity while other are just jahil!

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