When the Imam Cries By Farah Billah

When the Imam Cries

Sitting next to my mother, under mosaic,
I wonder how Rumi had such an unshakable faith.
How we read poetry about a God we rarely pretend to know.
The bodies hum to it,
The prayers…
The teenage girls sway alongside their mothers.
We are all palms in the wind in that moment.
We are all hands holding onto something important,
finally allowed to feel an energy we cannot comprehend
but cannot live without.
I put down my notebook in the masjid to finish dua.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to have this here.
There are so many questions I have for god.
If we ever meet I’ll ask him. Rumi and his faith sit next to me.
I realize God is the closest thing we have to believing in magic.

The imam cries during the dua.
Ya allah, give us strength to live this life.
They are taking our faith from us.
We are praying for some quiet down here.
My mother looks down at her hands.
I feel her thinking about all the pain we collectively feel.
He speaks in another tongue over the loud speaker
but she understands this heartbreak language.
Her sister sits beside her.
War was stitched into their eyelids a long time ago.

A child cries in the masjid out of hunger.
He does not understand how much.

By Farah Billah


Farah Billah is a contemporary painter and poet from Sacramento, CA.
Widely recognized for her photo series Coriander Cats, her work has been featured on Buzzfeed, Pop XO Daily, HYFN, The Dhaka Tribune, and NBC News. She is the author of Wrong Turns Lead Here, her debut collection of poetry in the United States.
Farah believes in the ocean, the forest, and solid street food. She believes the art already exists and we are simply messengers of the art. We must honor it as such.

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