Cherif Abou El Fadl is a poet, rapper, and screenwriter. When he is not writing he teaches yoga, and is the Creative Director at The Usuli Institute. His work is driven by the belief that life is an intricate conversation with Creator: Art is a surrendering to the Divine. The US-born Egyptian/Iraqi resides in California.
Yusuf Abdalwadud Adams wrote, sung and played in bands until architecture took hold as a practice. Writing continues to be a natural reflection of the journey of the heart through life. Currently taking a sufi eco mosque complex through planning in the Midlands UK, he has also made public sculptures as part of the collective the Imaginary Beings. A secret black lava stone house in Sicily is his simplest design, surrounded by low lemon groves and looking out toward Mount Etna. He is honoured to be included in this volume among so many Lovers. He teaches architecture across the UK, and recently completed a PhD on the adab of mosque design.
Yasmine Ahmed-Lea is a poet and writer who has given talks and workshops on poetry around the UK. She is an English lit grad with a passion for travelling and also works on the growing Sacred Footsteps podcast about history and travel. She works in marketing and communications and has done so for the past 10 years, but her full time passion is poetry. Yasmine mainly writes about spiritual relationships, family and diaspora.
Mariam Akhtar has been writing since her teens but only in the later part of her 20s felt brave enough to share her words and encourages others to do the same for a cathartic, therapeutic sense of relief and release. She has worked with primary school children for the past 7 years and loves seeing how their little minds work. History, identity, empire and ancestry are just some of the topics which are close to her heart and as such some of her writing is informed by these. She is now living in a village with her husband and trying to do adult life in her early 30s.
Shahbano Aliani (1967 – 2019) rahimahallah, was a Shaykha (spiritual teacher) in the Shahdili-Darqawi Sufi order, on the basis of permission from her own Sufi master, Shaykh Ebrahim Etsko Schuitema. Shahbano was born and raised in Pakistan and spent many years studying and working in the United States. Increasingly disillusioned with the mediocrity and futility of her outer endeavours and plagued by a growing disquiet, she searched for deeper purpose and meaning. Her quest brought her to the Sufi path through the Zawia (spiritual retreat) and teachings of Shaykh Ebrahim Etsko Schuitema in 2009. Soon thereafter Shahbano started writing poetry, a collection of which has been published in 2013 by Intent Publishing South Africa and Na’layn Publications, Pakistan entitled, “Set My Heart On Fire”. All the poems in this selection are from this book. Though written in English and in a modern voice, her verse is both a timeless chronicle of and a manual for spiritual transformation in the finest tradition of Sufi poetry. Readers have called Shahbano’s work honest, subtle and profoundly moving.
Asim the Poet is an award nominated spoken word artist and a motivational speaker, delivering a range of topics from hard-hitting stories to light hearted poems. Asim began his journey as a page poet, with the intent of expressing love of the beloved Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, spreading positivity and hope through his words. He now continues this through both written and spoken word to engage audiences as he conveys powerful messages to help, inspire and motivate others.
Abdus Salaam is nobody, son of nobody. He found poetic inspiration after meeting a wandering dervish who mirrored to him his Selfhood. Ever since he has been journeying on the horizons and within as a process of unveiling.
Saraiya Bah is a poet, writer and cultural producer who draws on the traditional West African storytelling style of the griot to wax lyrically about identity, faith, the relationship with self and everything in between. Saraiya is a co-producer of The Black and Muslim in Britain Project, a social engagement initiative that strives to highlight the importance of ensuring that a platform exists to present a plethora of stories, struggles, rich history, challenges, culture, politics, family traditions and the beauty of being Black and Muslim. Through her engagement in the creative arts and social activism, Saraiya has been invited globally to engage in large and intimate performances, panel discussions and facilitating poetry workshops in venues such as The British Library, The British Museum, Amnesty International Head Quarters and The National Poetry Library. She has been featured in articles and productions by BBC One, The Times, Stylist Magazine, Al Jazeera, Amaliah, Dazed.com, Muslim Girl, The Muslim Vibe, Islam Channel and British Muslim TV. Saraiya is a member of ::nana:: Poetry Collective. www.saraiyabah.co.uk
Matthew Bain is a dual English-Australian national and his heart is drawn to Kashmir and Andalusia, which have influenced his poetry as well as his Sufism. Matthew lives in England’s Peak District with his wife Diane. He works as a CyberSecurity architect, and enjoys music and dancing 5Rhythms.
Iljas Baker was born in Scotland where he discovered Islam through Subud. He is a graduate of Strathclyde, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities. He is a university lecturer, writer and editor and now lives in Thailand.
Eisha Basit is a Canadian writer and artist in her free time when she’s not being a mother. She aspires to write poetry that portrays the everyday truths of the wayfarer and to explore the ups and downs of spiritual life through the medium of art. She views sacred Islamic art as a necessity in the modern world and a means of inspiring hearts when combined with the written word.
Rabea Benhalim is a lover of the law committed to finding nuance and truth. She is a seeker of connection, finding the divine in the simple moments between souls. She sustains herself through immersion in beauty. Hybridity is a particular favorite, as she is of hybrid Libyan and Irish American heritage. She works as Associate Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, where she spends much of her day pondering comparative Jewish and Islamic Law.
Suhayla Bewley – English occasional poet and daughter of converts to Islam. Mother of three and a lawyer in her day job.
Yohosame Cameron – ‘Yohosame Freeborn Cameron’ (as it reads on his birth certificate) was born in Clearlake, California, 1969, at home in the gentle company of just his parents. His first word was “Allah”, (his mother says that he used to ‘sing’ it) and everything else that he has ever said (or sang) pales in comparison. As a child his favorite color was green, favorite animal the cheetah, and he often had vivid dreams of flying. Thankfully, not much has changed since then. Drawn towards nature, music, dance and poetry, he has nurtured his relationship with all of the above, and although he sometimes appears to be clean-shaven, in Truth his beard is much, much longer than yours.
Yasin Chines is a writer, journalist, editor and photographer who lives in Manchester. From a young age, his love for language led him to pursue a higher education in Creative Writing. Yasin studied Creative Writing at University of Leeds and graduated in 2011. He also studied poetry and nonfiction writing under International writer Rommi Smith. Since then, Yasin has continued to nurture his creativity with his photography, typewriter poetry and short poem series. Covering themes within Sufism that stretch from mysticism, the self, to memory, journeying and repentance, Yasin credits his teacher – author Dr Muzamil Khan (Bury) – from whom much of his inspiration is drawn. As a creative, Yasin has edited books, poems, short stories and numerous newspaper editions. He believes that nothing quite matches the power of creative art and writing in breaking barriers and building familial connections.
Halee I Cosar is a Sydney based teacher, bilingual poet and community artist who is interested in writing for the page as well as stage. Her first collection of poems, ‘Hijabi in Jeans’ has been published in 2018 by Guillotine Press. She also has work that has been published in anthologies ‘Poetry without Borders’, ‘On Second Thought’, ‘Can I Tell You a Secret’ as well as journals, ‘Mascara’ and ‘Australian Poetry Journal.’ She likes working on projects of intersectionality in particular those platforms where poetry meets other art forms. She has performed as a feature in reading circles, ‘Live Poets Society’, ‘Gugubarra’ as well as experimental theatre, ‘The Prophet – Remix’ and ‘Night Sky’. Find out more on her website.
Jessica Daqamsseh is an American poet, writer, teacher and student of Islamic knowledge. Her work on Islamic spirituality and the Muslim American experience is featured on Muslim Girl, a website aimed at amplifying American Muslim Women’s voices. She writes in a wide array of formats from essays and poetry to children’s fiction and short stories. Daqamsseh’s writing centers on Islamic spirituality, self-awareness and discovery, politics, and crafting authentic narratives which dismantle Islamophobic sentiments. Through her writing, she seeks to spark individual’s of all ages personal connections with the Divine. She works with young children at a Montessori school and has been blessed with one daughter.
Asiya Sian Davidson grew up on the wildly beautiful island of Tasmania but she now lives in Melbourne, Australia. In 1996 she spent three weeks in the Rif mountain town of Chefchaouen in Morocco, a visit that was to radically change the course of her life. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Tasmania majoring in Painting and Art Theory. She is a single mother of five children; Ruqaiyah, Hamza, Mustafa, Hana and Idris. Interested in all meaning systems and religions with a special love for Sufism she finds it difficult to fit ‘God’ into the boxes and languages that human cultures devise to know ‘Him’. She is a student Herbalist with an interest in all forms of healing.
Marissa Diaz is an indigenous activist and community organizer. She was born in New York, grew up in Seattle, and currently resides in California . Her father is Mapuche from Argentina, and she is from a people and land who the conquistadors and long-frustrated colonizers begrudging labeled “The Land of the Giants”. Giant in heart, stature, and love for independence and their indigenous traditions, it is this legacy that is at the core of Marissa’s work and poetry. Her father fought against the Argentinian government as a guerilla during one of the most brutal periods of repression in twentieth-century history, and she continues this fight in her work for indigenous communities, MMIWG (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls), advocacy for decolonization and for environmental justice. Marissa was raised Muslim by her West African step-father, an accomplished musician and gentle giant from Ghana, who taught her the beauty and poetry of his people, including those songs of praise for the Prophet, everlasting peace and blessing be upon him, and of the saints and awliyya of his region.
Mohammad Durrani is a Pakistani born Canadian, with focus on the inner workings of spirituality, steering clear from the outer forms and traditions. Penetrating insight with a deep rooting in philosophy, Buddhism, Taoism, Mohammad considers himself a wayfarer traveling through this temporary world, while attempting to heal and touch as many souls as he can. Where most people are busy building, acquiring and buying houses, wealth, dreams and cars, Mohammad has chosen to focus on ideologies and philosophies that are permanent, that fall outside the scope of entropy and erosion, and therefore, time and space. Having recently lost both his wife and mother to cancer, Mohammad is a firm believer that all things in this life are a blessing, and every experience is a teacher.
Peter Dziedzic is a doctoral candidate studying Islamic literatures, particularly from Morocco and Kashmir. His most recent homes include Jordan, India, Italy, Morocco, and Egypt. His first collection of poetry, titled Symphonies of Theophanies: Moroccan Meditations, was published in 2020. More about Mr. Dziedzic can be found at peterdziedzic.com.
Efemeral– It’s all ephemeral except the One. Rooted in the Pacific Northwest, Efemeral’s multilingual written verse and spoken word performance entwine reflections on faith, language and the human psyche. Her latest works are published in anthologies by Rumi Center for Spirituality and the Arts and in The Puritan’s Summer 2019 issue. Her Arabic poetry is currently featured in the public art piece “Weaving Cultural Identities: Threads Through Time” curated by Vancouver Biennale. Efemeral acknowledges the xwməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ Nations on whose territories she writes and performs. Efemeral can be reached on social media as @poetefemeral or by email at poetefemeral(at)gmail(dot)com.
Abdalhamid Evans (1951 – 2018) rahimahullah, was primarily raised in the United Kingdom where he was educated and discovered Islam in 1978. He was a creative, a scholar, and a visionary who shared his outlook for a meaningful, ethical and fulfilled life for all through his writings and eloquent speech. In his 50s he found he had poetry and songs in him that needed to be written and played. He proceeded with learning how to play the guitar and recorded two CDs of these songs with deep meaning and published a book of poetry he called ‘Songs in Search of a Musician’ before he passed away in Ramadan, 3 June 2018. www.fitrablues.com
Fatima’s Hand is a nomad who likes to write and who before becoming a mother of three was in academia exploring themes in Sufi poetry and notions of spiritual ‘state’ in the work of Ibn ‘Arabi. She has lived/studied across the Middle East, taking epic train/bus journeys and meeting with mountains. She can be found in the woods of English shires or exploring Scottish glens in her spare hours. She is a lover of flora and fungi, the old, the analogue and cycling around her beloved Edinburgh. She can be found at email@example.com
Rakaya Esime Fetuga is a poet from London of Ghanaian and Nigerian heritage. Her work joins conversations on overlapping identities, faith and culture as self-affirmation. Rakaya won the Spread the Word Poetry Prize in 2017 and the Roundhouse Poetry Slam in 2018. Rakaya has performed internationally and across the UK at venues including the British Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Trafalgar Square and The Ivy. Among others, Rakaya has been commissioned by Bloomberg Philanthropies with Vanity Fair, English Touring Theatre and Kyra TV. Rakaya is a member of ::nana:: Poetry Collective.
Fikasophy is rooted in The South East Asia, Cosmopolitan city of Singapore. She is a traveller, a soul adventurer and a history lover. Her poetry is inspired by her inward and outward travels. You can find her rocking the bars of lines on Instagram: @fikasophy
Jamila Fitzgerald – Born in Texas, 1947, middle daughter; UCDavis grad in fine arts; painter, gardener, married Michael Abderrahman Fitzgerald, emigrated to Morocco 1976, Tiznit resident one year, Rabat Casbah of the Oudayas resident 7 years; Meriam’s mother, Nora’s mother. Farm owner near Atlas Mountains farm house builder, cattle, sheep and chicken cooper. Grandmother of Karima, Abdullah Imran, Amine, Haroun, Youssef, Safiya and Yasin. May they be always in Allah’s way. Art teacher, twice Artist in Residence at Frank Waters Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, show of oils in Marrakech; partnership in Center for Language and Culture, Marrakech. Quadrilingual, bi-alphabetic, sometime writer of poems.
Barbara Flaherty, a dual Irish American national, has been a university instructor, a dual diagnosis counselor, a poet, an essayist, a mother, a grandmother, a healer. Her books include the poetry collection, Holy Madness, and Doing It Another Way: The Basic Text. She has been published in journals, anthologies, and university textbooks and was a winner of the Drogheda Amergin Poetry Award, Ireland in 2005. She was a co-founding companion of a multi-faith spiritual community and is interested in issues of bio-spirituality and the spirituality of sustainability. Her heart explores the way of holy poverty in the borderlands where Christianity and Islamic Sufism meet.
Ron Geaves is better known as an historian of Islam in Britain, especially for his ground-breaking biography Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam (2010, 2014). He has recently co-edited Victorian Muslim with Jamie Gilham (2017) and his new monograph Islam and Britain: Muslim Mission in the Age of Empire will appear in early 2018. He has held several chairs at British universities and remains Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK based in the University of Cardiff. He has been writing, publishing and performing poetry since the 1980s, recently appearing at the Bradford Literature Festival along with Ben Okra and others in a session entitled Modern Mystical Poets. His first single authored collection of poems Rumi Weeds was published in 2017 with Beacon Press.
Dr. Alan ‘Abd al-Haqq Godlas is Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Georgia, where he co-directs the Islamic Studies BA, MA, and PhD programs. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991, in Islamic Studies, specializing in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Sufi literature. Dr. Godlas was included in The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (2009- 2012). He discovered Islam through Sufism and has been guided at times by the Chishti, Ni’matullahi, Maryami, Naqshbandi, and Shadhili Sufi orders. Dr. Godlas’ works in progress deal with Ruzbihan al-Baqli’s Sufi Qur’an commentary, the relationship between cognition and emotion in Islam, and the calligraphic vision of Islam.
Vedad Grozdanic was born on February 21, 1991. He resides in the city of Sanski Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina. His book of poetry, Aquamarine Earth, was published in 2020.
Randa Hamwi Duwaji is a widely travelled poet, author, and researcher into the linguistic marvels of the Holy Qur’an. Seeing all of Humanity on a single plane, she has been conveying the richness of her heritage to the societies she interacts with, building bridges between cultures through her poetry compilations, children’s books, and decades-long Qur’anic research, penning her thoughts and findings in both English and Arabic. Growing up as a Syrian diplomat’s daughter who was constantly asked about her background, Randa’s interest in her faith and her quest to understand and convey its peaceful message has accompanied her throughout life. Randa brings this peace and richness to all her writings, as well as the vision of humankind joined by common values and united in the desire for a better future.
Tazmin H. Uddin is a seeking soul, based in NYC. She is an empath, a lover of Love and life, and a dreamer committed to changing the world one smile at a time. Through courses offered by @rumicenterarts, she has learned to combine her spiritual and poetic journeys and see writing as a form of spiritual practice. You can find her musings on Instagram @soulful_reflections.
Professor Joel Hayward is a New Zealand scholar, writer and poet who has held various academic posts, including Chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Khalifa University (UAE) and Dean of the Royal Air Force College (UK). He has earned ijazas in ʿAqīdah (theology) and Sirah (the Prophet’s biography). He is the author or editor of many books of non-fiction, particularly in the fields of history and strategic studies. He has given strategic advice to political and military leaders in several countries, has given policy and religious advice to prominent sheikhs, and was tutor to His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales. In 2011 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 2012 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 2016 he was named as the “Best Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences” at the 2016 Middle East Education Leadership Awards. He has published four collections of Islamic poetry and two books of Islamic fiction.
I.AM.SHAHEED is a writer and spoken word artist, whose work explores the conditions of the heart, the power of vulnerability and the resilience of the human spirit. His debut performance of ‘Unwritten Letters’ is now the stuff of poetry folklore. This opus has earned him the nickname ‘sensei’ amongst his peers and bookings at established events such as Flo Vortex, Word On The Street and Mind Over Matter. He has also performed at The Holland Festival in Amsterdam, alongside Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets. I.AM.SHAHEED is now in the process of compiling his first book.
Ayesha Ijaz writes to understand the ineffable mystery that is existence. Born in Pakistan and raised in New York, she now resides in Canada with her beautiful family. As an educator, she’s interested in alternative modes of learning and can be found mingling with farmers, scientists, and poets on any given day! Grateful for her backstory which allows her to belong ‘nowhere and everywhere,’ she longs to spread hope and healing to fellow seekers, wanderers, and whiners, in some manner. She can be reached @ineffable_mutterings on Instagram.
Ahmad Ikhlas is an international Dub Poet, reggae and garage musician who draws on his Jamaican heritage and his British upbringing to form a unique style of music and poetry, which he uses in praise of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and to send messages of love and empowerment. Ahmad Ikhlas was born and raised in South London. Although he always had a love of music, a deeper appreciation of music as a means for change and empowerment developed during the rise of the UK garage scene where he was known for his musical abilities and frequented radio stations under his then Moniker Mc Meelos. It was on the Music scene that Ahmad-Ikhlas became good friends with UK-Apache, Who then invited him to the Mosque. At the age of 17, while still in school Ahmad embraced Islam. For the first 10 years of his life as a Muslim, he stopped music to form and focus on his spirituality. Now Ahmad fuses his faith and identity and travels, sharing his experiences and singing songs of praise..
Hanan Issa is a Welsh-Iraqi poet and writer. She has been featured on both ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales and worked in partnership with National Museum Wales, Artes Mundi, Warwick university, Swansea Fringe, StAnza festival, Wales Arts International and Seren Books. Her work has been published in Banat Collective, Hedgehog Press, Wales Arts Review, Sukoon mag, Lumin Journal, Poetry Wales, Parthian, Y Stamp, sister-hood magazine and MuslimGirl.com. Her winning monologue was featured at Bush Theatre’s Hijabi Monologues. She is the co-founder of Wales’ first BAME open mic series ‘Where I’m Coming From’. She was a 2018-2019 Hay Festival Writer at Work.
Her debut poetry pamphlet ‘My Body Can House Two Hearts’ will be published by BurningEye Books in October 2019. www.hananissa.com Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram: @hananiscreative
Hina Jabeen-Aslam – From the clinical corporate world Hina’s deep connection to her faith and spirituality has been her therapy in balancing her evolution into the big and incredibly disconnected world she hopes to raise her family in as a metropolitan Muslim mother. Balancing tradition and modernity Hina hopes that her poetry will be what connects those looking to reconnect to their maker.
Rashida James-Saadiya is a cultural educator, and multidisciplinary artist invested in transforming social perceptions through creative literature. Her work explores migration, identity, and the transmission of spirituality and cultural memory amongst Muslim women in West Africa and the American South. In addition she is the Arts & Culture editor for Sapelo Square a digital hub documenting the experience and legacy of Black Muslims in America and the Creative Director of Crossing Limits, a multi-faith non-profit organization which utilizes poetry as an instrument for social change, highlighting the intersections of faith and social injustice.
Nabila Jameel is currently working as an English GCSE teacher in a secondary school. The main themes in her work are motherhood, childhood, mortality, spirituality, religion, culture, injustice and the rights of women. She describes her poetic voice as nostalgic but also progressive, writing from a place of truth, unapologetically. She enjoys reading and takes inspiration from an eclectic mix of English, Panjabi, Urdu and Persian writers, both classical and modern. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and journals, including Poetry Review. She has also published articles which contribute to topical discourse in poetry (Poetry News and NAWG’s Link poetry magazine). Nabila has a passion for languages and a keen interest in bilingualism, which led her to research Urdu, Panjabi and Persian poetry and run taster sessions in eastern poetry in translation.
Emny Kadri has enjoyed reading and writing poetry since a small child. Growing up in her earliest years in a Sunni/Sufi household, she learnt early to look at the world from a highly spiritual perspective, learning to see Allah’s presence in every aspect of life, never believing in simple coincidence and always knowing that everything happens for the most perfect of reasons. One of her most fundamental lessons has come in the reminder of love and compassion. No matter from where it has come, if love and compassion is genuine, its origin is always from the Beloved. Monumental life changes and experiences drove the most recent collection of poetry, for which she is eternally grateful to Allah and his servants (for being a part of the process), and indeed the unparalleled transformation at that moment in her life. With gratitude always for these opportunities of witnessing Allah’s manifest Beauty. and the poetry that flourished from this divine inspiration.
Mohja Kahf, professor of comparative literature and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Arkansas since 1995, is author of My Lover Feeds Me Grapefruit, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, Hagar Poems, E-mails from Scheherazad, and Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque.
Amal Kassir is a Syrian American international spoken word poet. She has performed in 12 countries, and over five dozen cities. She has lectured, performed poetry and taught workshops in venues ranging from orphanages to refugee camps to youth prisons to universities. Her work is heavily influenced by her Syrian culture, her experience as a minority in the United States, and the plight of the oppressed all over the world. She designed her own undergraduate major, titled Community Programming in Social Psychology, where she has been able to create programs for a range of causes and communities. She is working on her first book, due for release by the end of 2020, Inshaallah.
Wajiha Khalil is a seeker of sacred knowledge, a poet, and translator. she lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and three children.
Asma Khan started writing five years ago after a significant event in her life blew her heart open and words came … since then it has become a therapy and a joy, using language and expression in navigating life situations. She shares with others a deep need to express the Muslim heart and thanks to her insistence the idea of this anthology as a reality came into being as a way to share Muslim voices through poetry with a wider audience. She is also a doctor and a mum and works in a peacemaking charity.
Yahia Lababidi, Egyptian-Lebanese, is the author of eight books of poetry and prose. His new book, Revolutions of the Heart, is an essay collection at the intersection of social activism and mysticism. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, three times, Lababidi’s writing has been translated into several languages, and he has participated in international poetry festivals throughout the USA and Europe, as well as the Middle East.
Khadija Lacina grew up in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley. After converting to Islam and becoming fluent in Arabic, she and her family lived in Yemen for ten years, until the war brought them back to the US. After five years living on a homestead in the Missouri Ozarks with her children and various animals, she has recently returned to her Wisconsin home. Her writings have appeared in various anthologies and many internet venues. A Slice of Sunshine: The Poetry of Colors was published in 2012, and her chapbooks Nightrunning and Under the Sky have been published by Facqueuesol Books.
Ray Lacina is a Professor at Delta College near Saginaw, Michigan, where he teaches writing and a variety of literature courses. He embraced Islam in 1989 and in 1991 he married into a Hyderabadi (Indian) family which has tolerated him reasonably well for the last 27 years. He has written all of his life, starting with his first poem in the third grade (“I like birds/and birds like me/but I live in a house/and they live in a tree”). Over the years has moved on from ornithological verse to “I’m T.S. Eliot. Seriously. T.S. Eliot” verse to fiction, both speculative and mainstream. He lives in Michigan with his family.
Marguerite Lake is a poet, writer and artist. Her poetry reflects her life’s journey with self, Soul and the Sacred. Her geometric art expresses the thread of unity that weaves through the multiplicity of forms. Her work is informed by creative imagination and the ancient wisdom traditions. “Mystical poetry and Islamic geometry are archetypal languages expressing the causal relationships of creation. Their beauty lies in the dynamic flow of symmetry, proportionality, rhythm and harmonics in an ordered whole. My work explores the space between the seen and the unseen, the fixed and the fluid, the temporal and the eternal. As patterns are transformed by light and colour, so self is transformed by the light of Soul.”
Nargis Latif is a business development manager, poet, writer, feminist, traveller, mother of 5 children and overall loud London girl. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science with over 12 years experience in IT. She travels mostly alone, with an aim to connect to the divine and learn from each experience. Nargis believes poetry like all art, is a divine expression, we are all paints and pens in the hands of God.
Yacoob Manjoo is a South African writer, blogger, husband, and father of two. Professionally, he works in the communications field, however, he’s shared his personal writing for many years via his blog at https://dreamlife.wordpress.com. He has also written articles and produced content for various Islamic media platforms – including Productive Muslim, AboutIslam.net, and AccidentalMuslims.com.
Jessica Artemisia Mathieu is a poet, writer, and slavery abolitionist. She does digital marketing by day and has a Master of Science from New York University in Global Affairs, where she studied the relationship between international political economy, transnational organized crime, and human trafficking. Her work focuses on unity, connection, and exploring the growth of the human soul. She loves solitude, nature, animals, reading, traveling, and meeting people in the inner world.
Aaishah Mayet was born and bred in the City of Gold, Johannesburg, South Africa. She works in the Healthcare sector which, for her, has bridged the frontiers of our shared human experience. As a self-confessed bibliophile of many years, literature remains her teacher and her sanctuary. Her works include Haiku published in the Lotosblute, as well as poetry published online in the Agbowo Limits issue, Poetry Potion, Active Muse, the Brittle Paper and Amaliah.
Tasnim McCormick Benhalim – Growing up in a large Texas family, her earliest memory was “Why?”. Light, color, and patterns were – and are – her primary ways of knowing. In her early teens, finding first one – Rumi – and then others who spoke the same language guided her, over time, to Islam and her larger family. Through her company, DiversityWealth, Tasnim works to build bridges across cultures and generations, creating community and belonging. Through her independent trainings and her facilitation of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead™ program, she helps others answer the “Why” in their work and lives. Tasnim feels awash in grace and gratitude for life and our wealth of family and connections. …here we are breathing, the sky deep and endless, and the night full of stars.
Idris Mears was born in Cornwall in 1951. He moved with his parents to Bahrain in 1954 and it became his family home till he went to read English at Oxford University in 1970. He entered Islam in 1973 and has travelled the breadth of the Muslim World since then, building up a network of contacts and a catalogue of experiences. As a teenager, he wrote poetry and won a national poetry prize adjudicated by the then poet laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis. He returned to writing in the last few years but does not identify himself as a poet but as a chronicler of his life and times as a Muslim.
Malika Meddings is a Craniosacral Therapist with a love of plant and Chinese medicine. Her poems are an expression of gratitude for experiences with people and nature that have been transformative. She finds words a medium for healing and real expression a gift that helps us to find solace in ourselves.
Abbas Mohamed has a huge appetite for life and what is beyond. He is involved in community projects focused on food, poetry, and the arts with organizations that include GAMA, Compassion Crew, and Halalfest. Abbas has been writing poetry since 2008 and humbly presents his stanzas as an offering of peace and blessings. You can find him on Instagram at @babyshamss.
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore (1940- 2016) rahimahullah, was born in 1940 in Oakland, California. He had his first book of poems, Dawn Visions, published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, San Francisco, in 1964, and the second in 1972, Burnt Heart/Ode to the War Dead. He created and directed The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley, California in the late 60s, and presented two major productions, The Walls Are Running Blood, and Bliss Apocalypse. He became a Sufi Muslim in 1970, performed the Hajj in 1972, and lived and traveled throughout Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Nigeria, landing in California and publishing The Desert is the Only Way Out, and Chronicles of Akhira in the early 80s (Zilzal Press). Residing in Philadelphia since 1990, in 1996 he published The Ramadan Sonnets (Jusoor/City Lights), and in 2002, The Blind Beekeeper (Jusoor/Syracuse University Press). He has been the major editor for a number of works, including The Burdah of Shaykh Busiri, translated by Hamza Yusuf, and the poetry of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Munir Akash. He has been poetry editor for Seasons Journal, Islamica Magazine, a 2010 translation by Munir Akash of State of Siege, by Mahmoud Darwish (Syracuse University Press), and The Prayer of the Oppressed, by Imam Muhammad Nasir al-Dar’i, translated by Hamza Yusuf (Sandala). In 2011, 2012 and 2014 he was a winner of the Nazim Hikmet Prize for Poetry. In 2013 he won an American Book Award, and in 2013 and 2014 was listed among The 500 Most Influential Muslims for his poetry.
Muneera Pilgrim is an international Poet, Cultural Producer, Writer, Broadcaster and artist who works across disciplines and form with words and text as her stimulus. She conducts expressive based, purpose-driven workshops, shares art, guest lectures, hosts and finds alternative ways to educate, exchange ideas and grow. She is a co-founder of the Muslim female Spoken Word and Hip-Hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage, and since that point has been exploring narratives and stories that are rarely centralised. As a writer and broadcaster Muneera regularly contributes to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought and has written for The Guardian, Amaliah, Huffington Post, The Independent, Al Jazeera Blog and Black Ballard and many more. Muneera holds an MA in Islamic studies and an MA in Women’s Studies where she focused on intersectionality, spirituality, auto-ethnography and methodologies of empowerment for non-centred people. For her academic work and use of poetic enquiry, she won the Ann Kolaski-Naylor award for creativity. Muneera is the current Artist Associate with The English Touring Theatre where she is writing her first play, and she is a Resident Creative at Pervasive Media, a hub of creatives, technologists and academics. If she were asked to describe herself in three words, she would say “Just Getting Started”.
Bushra Mustafa-Dunne is a poet, writer of mixed Iraqi and Irish parentage. Her poetry explores gardens, imagined homelands, womanhood, uprootedness and the sanctity that draws these imaginings together. When she is not in her grandmother’s garden, Bushra pursues a degree in Comparative Literature with Arabic, and hopes to write and translate in her mother tongue in the future.
Nimah Ismail Nawwab – Descending from a family of scholars from Mecca, Saudi Arabia Nimah is an English poet, writer and photographer, an international lecturer whose work and writings span issues on spirituality, empowering youth, diversity and mutual respect for genders and races. Her poetry has been featured in documentaries and film. She is also a poetry judge and is engaged in mentoring writers, journalists and young poets through interactive workshops on the arts of writing and verse. Her best-selling poetry volume The Unfurling with over 7000 copies sold worldwide, is the first book by a Saudi poet to be published in the United States. She had a major groundbreaking book signing in Jiddah the first ever such singing in Saudi Arabia by a male or female writer and a historic signing at Barnes and Noble, Washington DC. Her last book to date Canvas of the Soul Mystic Poems from the Heartland of Arabia, promotes Islamic arts including calligraphy, Turkish miniature art and ebru with reviews by acclaimed scholars and artists. She has been a featured poet at schools and colleges in the East and West with readings, presentations and lectures at major institutes, forums and venues. Her poems on women, spirituality, Arabian society, and global issues, as well as the universal themes of love, loss, and simple joys have been taught at schools and universities in Arabia, the U.S, Canada, Venezuela, Singapore, Japan, India and others. Her poetry has been translated from English into numerous languages and her work been included in numerous anthologies. Some of her work is featured on www.nimahnawwab.org.
Miroku Nemeth was born to hippie mother and a father who was a combat veteran in Vietnam who was a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Born and raised in Michigan, he moved to Fresno, California at 15, which at that time had the highest per capita murder rate in the United States. After trials that many youth in America face growing up, he worked to extricate himself from negativity through the study of art, comparative religions, and mystical poetry. Inspired by Sufi love poetry, at 22, he converted to Islam near the gates of Yosemite National Park at the hands of a Sufi of the Shadhili lineage. Marrying a Muslima of Nubian origin three years later, he traveled to Egypt with her to meet her extended family, including in the rebuilt ancestral village of Ballana, where her people had been resettled after the construction of the Aswan High Dam destroyed the land that had been her peoples’ for time immemorial. His first son, Omar, was born on June 5, 1998, and seeing his eyes open and calling the adhan and iqama in his ears on that day changed his life forever. His second son, Yusuf, was born while he was on Hajj in 2002, and is forever his Eidiyyah from Allah. Miroku has academic degrees in Linguistics and English Literature from C.S.U., Fresno, and owes much to working with poets locally, though more to the Sufi poets who first connected him to his own heart and Creator in a way like never before. He has taught high school and college locally for decades, always with an eye and heart for social justice that is sorely needed in California’s Central Valley, one of the most impoverished and desperate regions in the country. Many of his students are from Huron, often the “poorest city in California” in ratings, from hard-working immigrant families who work the industrial agricultural fields of the region. Working with such communities has been a gift, and seeing former students succeed and even become activists has been a blessing. Miroku’s eldest son passed away unexpectedly on January 3, 2018 at the age of nineteen and a half. He hopes to be reunited with him and his Nubian ancestors in Jannah.
Nile Mystic is a lover of words and feelings. She was conceived in the longest kiss, the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile. And She was nurtured in the rich cultures of the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Her artistic heart has been blooming in the beautiful coasts of North America. Her love for poetry started when she was a toddler listening to her two grandmothers in Sudan improvising beautiful lullabies full of poetic praises. Then her love grew more when she came across the poetry of Mevlana Rumi. Rumi’s poetry helped her turn her feelings into poetry. Through poetry she found an avenue to express her hidden feelings and discoveries.
Sabila Raza, based in the North West of England is British born, of Pakistani heritage. Her creativity is centred in expressing the complexities of human fragility. Hoping to open consciousness, empower and convey the shared vulnerabilities within the many shades of being human. Sabila has featured in The Tempest and shares writing in her online blog and Instagram named A Million Thoughts A Minute, amtamblog. Sabila envisions to continue and develop in sharing her perspective through storytelling and writing in different mediums.
Zakriya Riaz is a British Pakistani Muslim, born in East London, with a great appreciation for the creative arts. He has performed poetry all over London at a range of events, exploring the plight of young disenfranchised people on stage. He performs as a form of therapy, as it allows him to vent his pain, as well as cover important topics like racism, feminism, Islamophobia, and personal tribulations. He is the founder of the Muslim Arts Movement campaign, designed to empower young disadvantaged people through open mic events, allowing them to tell their stories. He is a politics graduate, and expert on Islamophobia, having written a first-class dissertation on the question: “Does Islamophobia have the same meaning in the US and the UK”?
Murtaza Humayun Saeed was born in 1977 and has been engaged in an entangling yet fruitful journey in his mind and heart about how to determine what is true since his school days. Not realizing early on that he was grappling with what is described as nihilism, considered by thinkers as one of the modern world’s root crises, he has emerged more confident about matters of religion and spirituality. Gifted with the ability to draw, paint and write, his findings find expression in his work. He is a Business and Law graduate from Lahore where he has lived since 1991, having been raised in Dubai and London. He is one of the Executive Producers of the Documentary: Blessed are the Strangers (2016) (www.thestrangers.co.uk) and an Art of Seeing traveller (www.artofseeing.org). He teaches the Beautiful Patience Class at Zaawiya Trust School in Lahore (www.zaawiya.org.pk) and has been a contributor for Sacred Footsteps (www.sacredfootsteps.org). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabia Saida is the founder of Lote Tree Press which developed from an online poetry forum she started ten years ago. She is a British American second generation Muslim whose parents hosted weekly dhikr gatherings during her childhood. This tradition of dhikr and qasida singing has inspired a love for devotional poetry in the original, especially when sung. Rabia Saida studied Arabic and Persian at Cambridge and is a translator and sometime teacher and journalist.
Mai Sartawi is a lawyer, poet, and artist who currently lives in Kuwait. Poetry has become an essential tool for her to explore deeper within self the roots of injustice, its ironic beauty, and to witness the marvels of the Creator. She seeks to awaken, heal, and connect with her soul family.
Toneya Sarwar is a life long student. Writing poetry gives her emotions wings and her mind a place to explore and ponder the world around her. A British Muslim living in Dubai she draws on all her experiences for inspiration. Her three children are a constant source of gratitude and she hopes that one day they too will unlock the gifts that both reading and writing poetry give. Toneya’s teachers are Khalil Gibran and Moulana Rumi, may they continue to move the hearts of those who follow them.
Novid Shaid is an English teacher and writer of novels, short stories and poetry. Born and brought up in Aylesbury in the UK, Novid developed a love for writing stories and reading English literature as a child, which culminated in him later becoming an English teacher in local secondary schools. In 2014, Novid published his first novel, the mystical thriller, The Hidden Ones and thereafter he published a book of short stories and poetry. He shares short stories and poems on his website: www.novid.co.uk
Sidd is a spoken word artist/creative, using spoken word poetry as an outlet, to express his own political views in his early 20s. After slowly becoming more religiously conscious, his writing began to reflect a more Islamic perspective. He now produces content based around the Islamic creed, covering aspects like the afterlife, prophetic stories, etc. His long term goal is to make Islam more digestible for the Muslim youth and for it to be easier to understand for those that are not Muslim themselves.
Arthur Skip Maselli lives with his two teen children in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. He is an initiate on the Mevlevi path of Sufism, with Shaykh Kabir Helminski. His books, “A Sparrow Who Ate the Universe” and “Twenty Five Words Toward the Truth, #25wtT” can be obtained through most major book outlets. While completing several poetry manuscripts, he occasionally blogs at www.phosphorimental.com. A part time student of the ney, triathlete, businessman, and amateur event organizer; Skip seeks collaborations for spiritual gatherings and writing opportunities.
Abdul Kareem Stone – Getting on in the UK, a not so new Muslim, Father of three children nearly all adult. Can only write poems with the rare internal season of inspiration. Still searching for a voice. No real accomplishments but a relish for the divine.
Sukina Pilgrim is a Poet, Spoken-Word artist, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator and Event Organiser and co-founder of Muslim female Hip Hop duo, Poetic Pilgrimage. She has facilitated creative writing workshops across the world empowering communities to use the written word as a tool for dialogue and as a means for accessing their authentic voice. She has launched a workshop series called The Art of Speaking from the Heart and that she has delivered around the world. She has played an intrinsic role within the British Muslim creative communities as a performer and events organiser and has created platforms for many national and international Muslim artists to express themselves and launch their careers. She was the Project Manager of a Muslim Sufi centre in London called Rumi’s Cave where she organised Islamic courses, lectures, workshops and retreats. Her work has been featured on the BBC News, World Service and Asian Network, ITV, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera and has been written about in the Huffington Post, Daily Mail, The Voice and many other international media outlets. In March 2015 Al Jazeera screened a documentary about her group called Hip Hop Hijabis. Sukina made her theatre debut in 2016 in a production called Malcolm X at the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels which was critically acclaimed and her first play will be premiered at the Theatre in 2020. In 2017 she delivered a Tedx Talk on the healing potential of poetry. Sukina holds a she holds a BA (Hons) Degree in English Literature and Caribbean Studies and is currently pursuing an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.
Paul Abdul Wadud Sutherland – British-Canadian poet Paul Sutherland (b. 1947) embraced Islam in 2004, receiving the name Abdul Wadud from Shaykh Nazim Al Haqqani of the Naqshbandi Tariqat. He turned freelance, and married Afifa Emutallah. His Poems on the Life of the Prophet Muhammad was published in 2014, A Sufi Novice in Shaykh Efendi’s Realm a bilingual Romanian-English book followed, re-published in English only 2016. A new edition, with 30 extra pages, is due from Beacon Books with the title Servant of the Loving One. In 2017 Valley Press published his monumental New and Selected Poems, covering 45 years of his writing. It was listed by PBS, and the Morning Star selected it as one of the year’s top ten books. The University of Lincoln archives his work.
Nura Tarmann was born in a village in Austria and travelled as a child with her mixed family through several countries eventually settling in Medina, Saudi Arabia in 1978 where she married and had a son. She moved to the UK in 2009 where she writes to express her faith and sort out her impressions and feelings. She finds language a beautiful tool whose use she is still trying to perfect. She trained to be a counsellor and volunteered at MIND for several years. She now works with young people in care and her goal is to make them feel they are valuable members of society.
Aasifa Usmani is an immigrant originally from Indian occupied Kashmir with a background in Literature and Human Rights issues. She works in London with a feminist organization and raises awareness with healthcare professionals about domestic violence and abuse working in partnership with them to holistically support victims/survivors. Working in this field has enhanced and expanded her insights into the impact of trauma due to gender violence and at the same time has taught her about the resilience of human spirit and women’s agency. As a full time working mother she feels that poetry strengthens her, and is interested in issues of exile, grief, trauma, love and endurance. She describes poetry as a rooh (soul), najaat (salvation) and noor ( light) of life.
Flamur Vehapi is a researcher, poet, literary translator, academic and a leadership and success coach. He received his A.A. and B.S. in Counseling Psychology with a minor in History, and in 2013, he received his M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University. In 2009, Vehapi received the Imagine Award for Community Peacemaking. Currently, he is an Education and Leadership PhD student at Pacific University. Vehapi taught social sciences at Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University, and more recently he taught at various institutions in the Middle East. His publications include The Alchemy of Mind and A Cup with Rumi, both collections of spiritual poems, and his most recent books are Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam, The Book of Albanian Sayings and The Book of Great Quotes, and two translations of Sami Frashëri’s books. He has worked as a contributing writer for the PSU Chronicles. Vehapi and his family currently live in Oregon.
Medina Tenour Whiteman was born in Granada, Spain, in 1982 to American English Muslim parents. She graduated from SOAS, London, with a BA (hons), 1st class, in African Language and Culture in 2005. Since then she has written freelance for organs including Critical Muslim and Permaculture Magazine on topics such as history, culture, religion, sustainable agriculture, and the arts. She is the author of a collection of poetry (Love is a Traveller and We are its Path), Huma’s Travel Guide to Islamic Spain, and The Invisible Muslim (forthcoming). She also writes documentary scripts and short stories, translates, and composes and performs music. She lives near Granada with her husband and three children.