An Ode to An Nahl

A poem by Shagufta K Iqbal

artwork illustration of figures praying
Artwork by Sabba Khan.

We know we are no different
from the honey bees.
We too are creatures
with wings of hope.

Every living thing
in a state of worship,

A harmonised falling,
we place foreheads to earth,
whisper gently our praises,
plant duas into palms.
Let the wind carry
our trust to the Almighty.

Hope is the centre of the hive,
gleaming back at the faithful,
The ummah is one note in a hum
reverberating into the next duniya.
Calls us to place one foot before the other,
to find ourselves at the door of prayers.

This calling speaks that the moment is now.
We know it like the sound of the azaan.
Know it like the removing of shoes
before entering the masjid.

The bowing of heads,
in Jummah prayers.
The collecting of nectar
from the wildflowers of spring.
Know it, like we know the sacred.

The miracle of it all,
brings you to your knees.
Does it not?

Yet we are eating a land and a sea
that tastes of what we have done.

But there is a song,
that starts as a slight buzz,
sends a murmuring ripple,
building like waves through bodies,

You are being called to do better than this.
You are being called to protect more kinder than this.

The earth is waiting
for the touch of a forehead,
for the whisper of hope,
for the collective placing of hands
against the heart of it.
For we know the way back
to the Almighty
is through this very soil.

This poem was made possible by Cape Farewell’s SIRENS programme, funded by Arts Council England – a unique take on the climate emergency and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

About the SIRENS programme

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