I’d Rather Go To Medina

I’d rather go to Medina

Than go to Hollywood

In Medina, there’s no Oscars

Or shining halls of fame

Instead there’s awe with Mustafa

And prayers at Qiblatain

I’d rather go to Mecca

Than go to Hollywood

Forget those hand and footprints

Of Cher and Steve McQueen

Near the Kaaba all in gold

Are the footsteps of Ibrahim

Instead of meeting Jackie Chan

I’d rather meet Ustad Gee

He could bring the big danda

And wave it like he’s Bruce Lee!

Instead of meeting Nigella

Domestic Goddess and Diva

I’d rather see my lovely wife

Coz she makes aloo keema!

I’d rather go on Itikaaf

Than go on I’m A Celebrity

Forget the jungle fun and games

In Ant and Dec’s reality

In itikaaf you can see your soul

And try some and chai and lassi!

I’d rather have langar shareef

Than have dinner at the Ritz

Forget the style and tuxedo

And charming Royal tea

In langar you have daal and gohsht

While sitting like a yogi!

I’d rather lead the asr prayers

Than project manage on Apprentice

Instead Alan Sugar’s wrath

And probably getting fired

I’d lead the brothers from the front

And do sajdah sahw if required

I’d rather do a khalwa

Than do a bungee jump

Instead of leaping like a hare

Into a vast ravine

I’d feel the infinity of God

And life would be serene

I’d rather do a prostration

Than argue like an atheist

Instead of crafting rhetoric

There’s no god but matter

In sajdah I would feel my nafs

And vain illusions shatter

I’d rather pray to our Allah

Than be a materialist

Instead of eating all my food

And scorning God or Buddha

I’d break my fast at the local mosque

They give you Kulfi Faluda!

Notes:

This poem celebrates aspects of the poet’s religious culture and cuisine against elements of Western, popular culture. My inspiration is Simon Armitage’s poem: It Ain’t What You Do It’s What It Does To You.

Qiblatain- a reference to the Mosque Al Qiblatain near Medina

Ibrahim: Arabic word for Abraham

Danda: Urdu word- stick

Aloo Keema: minced meat curry with potatoes

Itikaaf: spiritual seclusion and prayer in a mosque

Chai and lassi- Asian tea and yoghurt

Daal and gosht: lentils with mutton curry

Asr prayer: late afternoon prayer- one of the five Muslim daily prayers

khalwa: Arabic word for spiritual seclusion

Sajdah Sahw: prostration for error- performed when one missed an integral part of the daily prayer

Nafs: the ego

Kulfi Falooda: Asian sweet dish