The Writeous Circle project

So some of you might have already seen this on my social medias and what not, and you might probably be sick of it already, but how can I not announce it here on my main blog?! (I’ll use every excuse to promote it :p) Yes, I have finally launched my newest project *cue zaghroota* :  The Writeous Circle. (click here)

Here’s a sneak peak:

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Please head over there to see what it is all about and learn how you can be a part of it too! I’m excited to read the entries, see you guys there inshaAllah :)


Lots of love,



The Kind of Beauty

You would not find her beautiful

under the harsh white lights of a bathroom in a mall

or if you stood too closely and notice the colour of her pupils-

an almost-black, but not quite,

or saw her in one of those 8-hour bus travels

that she makes reluctantly every 2 months

or if you were into poetry and

thought she could use better imagery.


Her beauty was in the way her eyes

twinkled when she spoke about her projects

(while you listen attentively even though

you know very well she’d never complete them)

or when her lips pouted slightly

when she was concentrating on a task at hand

or in the way her voice shook, defending herself,

(even though she was clearly wrong)

or in that small but unmistakable curve of her mouth-

when she spoke to you in serious-tongue,

(fighting the urge to do something else

with them)

or in how she would curl up with a book-

unmoving except to flip the pages,

even as tears and snot trailed down her cheeks

and gathered in a pool 

in the cave of her collarbone. 


She was not the kind of beauty you’d find in magazines

although she sometimes tries

and succeeds

in cleaning up well

(at least she was told)

that, she could,

and did.


But she was not, in their books,

a “natural

as it took hours

perfecting what was considered

a beauty that was effortless.

It took practice,

to look like she did not even try

in the way she nonchalantly wraps her scarf

and the indifference in which her blemishes 

peeked through her skin

(some days more than others).

All of it had to be learned-

the art of becoming the kind of beauty

that was not offensive

that which conformed

to what was normal.


She was the kind of beautiful

you’d say if you were an archeologist

who’d discovered some ancient treasure;

an outdated valuable

that was no longer trendy,

or if you were a preschool teacher

praising her student’s drawing of

what is supposed to be a portrait of himself.


She had that kind of beauty

that required time and conversation;

the kind of beauty

that was not dependent on the hours she’d slept the night before,

or the litres she gulped,

the kind of beauty

which you’d crave- served piping hot

whilst in sweats and slippers,

after coming back from a fancy get-together.



She was the kind of beauty

that was all soul

the kind of pretty

that was whole


but the world was not wired

for that

(kind of beauty),

she was told.


Something for my Beautiful Souls*

*Beautiful souls is what my group of best friends and I call ourselves. This slightly fun and light piece was originally written for the Global Ummatic Festival 2017 but due to certain reasons, I couldn’t perform. No two of us are of the same ethnicity and background, so you can imagine why I wanted this read at GUF. 3ala kulli haaal.. My plan was to still debut it as a performance, but I was hit with a realization today that I should publish it before it gets old and forgotten :p 


The Prophet said souls are like conscripted soldiers.

Those whom they recognise they’ll get along with

and those they don’t, they won’t.

And I think I’ve found my conscripted soldiers.

I call them Beautiful Souls.


After 4 years together I reckon

We are all made of the same essence

Even if we are of different colours

Different shades of the same sand

The very sand Adam was made from

Fashioned by the same Godly hands

Hands of The master architect,

Allah. Allahu akbar.


I grew up not knowing where to call home

For home was a different city every year

Some say home is where you celebrate eid

But what if you pack eid in a suitcase

And Eid is a plane ticket to a place 4000 miles away?

Some say home is a birthplace

And your homeland

But what if that means nothing beyond a red special booklet

With the ugliest picture of you in the front page?

Some say home is a person

What if the person chooses to walk out the door

Even before you get the chance to say salam…?


From Algeria to Kashmir to Kenya and Holland.

From Syria to India to China, Korea and France.


I belong here, and I belong nowhere

I am a child of the world,

Born with red and blue rivers beneath my skin

And a bunch of hair tamable only by

a powerful brush of a mother’s hands

Just like you I eat 3-5 times a day

Not including snacks in between meals

I sit down and enjoy tea

Whether it’s teh tarik, teh peng, red tea, green tea, black tea, white tea, shai, shai bilhaleeb, shai ma3a na3na3, chai, noon chai, masala chai, tak ada masalah I love all kinds.

As Kaveh Akbar said in the opening lines of his poem

Yeki Bood Yeki Nabood,

“everyday someone finds what they need in someone else”.

And everyday I find mine in each and every one of them.


Meriem taught me what it would be like to have two of me.

I am just as much a mirror to her as she is with me

Suaad taught me to treat others with kindness

no matter the BS you get in return

Murakeen taught me that knowledge of your own identity

empowers you even if your identity oppresses you

(She makes me feel I should at least know the important dates to do with mine!)

Shairah taught me to give a 101 excuses for a person’s misbehaviour

And to hold my tongue at the mention of a name

of a person not present.

Emi pushes me to find my niche in life and harness it-

and though I’m still trying to discover it, I know what’s NOT it- not gym.

Heba taught me the beauty in resilience

and how to soar despite the weight pulling down my legs.

Asma taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin,

and that a thing is much sweeter when paid by your own sweat and blood.

Rafa taught me what a good companionship is like

Yusra taught me that power exudes even through a face veil

Amra’s generosity is more than what is hers is also mine


I may have never stepped foot in the Forbidden city or wang ting lu,

or smelled crossaints baking on the 18em arrondisement in Paris whilst

admiring at the Eiffel Tower in the morning

or drove along Bab Sharqi in Damascus,

or listened to EXO’s Monster for the 10th time in a cafe in Hongdae,

or swam in Nahr An-Neel dreaming in the breeze of Khartoum

or sat watching the matatus roam the streets along Juja Road Estate,

or strolled with a loved one among the Swedish trees in Bokskogen Torup,

or munched on couscous in Seb3ah Share3 Mohammed 3abdou in Muradiyyeh,

danced in my colourful sari in Lal Bazaar in Hyderbad

or had tea in a boat on Dal Lake Srinagar

or picked berries in the backyard of a 16th century modern Dutch house on Mariendalsevegh 12,

But my heart has seen these places through the eyes of my beautiful souls

Though my eyes havent.

During the summer break whilst I bike through all the park connectors of Singapore

Braving the humidity and blinding greenery

-it can be blinding when you’ve spent 10 months In the brown, dusty Shari3 Sitteen of Sanaa,-

I experience these places through

The stories my beautiful souls narrate to me

Where they grew up became my home

What their tastebuds are used to become my preferred delicacy

Where their eyes are used to resting,

mine too take comfort in.


Differences do not scare me

Uniformity does.

That it almost hurts me.


I despise your refusal to bend your tongue

To speak my native tongue

On the basis that it is foreign

I despise your refusal to shake my hand

On the basis that my eyes are of a different shape and colour to yours

I despise your seeing me as a different class –or caste

Based on the lineage of my forefathers

which I had no part to play in

I invite you

Dear brother and sister

To embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity

Know your neighbour

Love your neighbour

Defend your neighbour

Be a neighbour

to a neighbour.


The Prophet said souls are like conscripted soldiers.

Those whom they recognise they’ll get along with

and those they don’t, they won’t.

I think I’ve found my conscripted soldiers. And I call them my Beautiful Souls.