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olivetreesThe Reverend Jesse Jackson visited our high school senior class back in 1994 and although I cannot remember everything that he said, I remember the hope for the future that he imparted to us. We were eager for freedom but a little nervous about starting out on our own; we were bright-eyed and new to the goings-on in the world but hopeful about our prospects.

That was more than 20 years ago and today, when reflecting upon the day’s news headlines and the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, I’m reminded of one of the Reverend’s famous sayings, “Keep hope alive!”

It’s easy to get discouraged or angry or fearful when reading about the tragedies and injustices occurring in the world, but we can’t neglect to hope and pray for that which is better.

I share this little anecdote and this poem with you today in the spirit of keeping hope alive – yes we are challenged by this life, but we must remember that God, Allah, is good all the time. We must have faith that there will be better days.


Planting Trees

When the land is barren


We plant trees for the harvesting of souls

To replenish that which has been decimated

To heal that which has been corrupted

Because injustice poisons the earth


Oh Allah!

So much blood has been spilled-

How long?

How long, we cry!

The conflict of Cain and Abel remains

Pricks at the conscience of humanity



Still we wait

For the promise of Allah is true

And although we’ve wandered through the dry places for so, so long, there is relief

And the fountains of knowledge are a deliverance


The tender leaves of an olive tree contain so much potential: oil, fruit, life, peace

The gentle touch of a medicine man

Can heal a wounded spirit


What can we do, you ask?

I answer:

Plant trees

Sow seeds of mercy

Sow that which will sustain life

To reap a harvest deserving of the pleasure of Our Lord


If Allah so permits


The pill may sometimes be bitter and difficult to swallow

But if the life of your child

Of your child’s child – your grandchild

The lives of your family depends upon your willingness to sacrifice – would you not?


Sweetness comes from grace

And sometimes perseverance

Because scar tissue is a thicker, tougher, layer

We endure


I allow my heartache to move me forward

And I pray for better days

For a better Time

A New Earth

A New Heaven

When justice rules the land

When children laugh with joy, unhindered by this world’s strife


When mothers can hold their children’s hands without fear

When fathers can rest securely, knowing that their families are safe

When wife and husband can enjoy the pleasure of an embrace in peace


When a garden blooms in fertile land overcrowded by trees

And Life is full

Copyright © 2015 by Mindworks Publishing, Luminous: Collected Poetry