Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan

One of main reasons I started this blog was to show Islam and Muslims from a different perspective, different from the mainstream media who frame certain issues in ways I do not really agree with. I am therefore always on the lookout for like minded people who can help us to see things in unusual ways.

Which neatly brings me on to slam poetry, which is a type of poetry performed at a poetry competition known as a slam. At a slam poets perform original work alone or in teams before an audience, which serves as the judge, so the judges don’t even have to be poets themselves. Poets perform without props, costumes, or music. In other words, just their raw selves. After performing the work is judged as much on the manner and enthusiasm of its performance as its content or style.

Just type in ‘slam poetry’ in YouTube and you will be inundated with results. I have chosen a few of my favourites and presented them for your delectation below. Because this is a type of performance art, many slam poems are not intended to be read silently from the page. Despite this, I have tried to transcribe some of my favourite quotes from the selected poems.

The poems are performed by a variety of people: an American marine, a British Hollywood actor, young girls on Eid day, and others. They speak honestly about personal experiences, feelings of heartache, and hopes for the future. Some are Muslim, some not (I think). Anyways, I hope you find each poem interesting as well as entertaining. Enjoy!

Hersi – Terrorism Is Not A Religion

I know it was your people who blew up the World Trade. So every time I see a towel head that prays the way you pray, I’m reminded of that day. I’m not racist, all I am is afraid…

I understand atrocities caused by people like me, so let me start with apologies for those inhumane nineteen so you don’t constantly blame me…What type of a country will take the actions of a few and blame it on a whole civilization? I mean, thank God we don’t live in that nation!…

In school they teach us to be outspoken but that’s not what I’m shown. I fear if I speak out I’d be the next on a no-fly zone…

I feel for the brothers named Mohammed cuz only God can give them a job…

At first they would ask me questions like if we went to war today would you shoot us or shoot them? And such radical quotes are usually taken as a joke by how long can a joke go before you start to think is this the only thing they know?…

Listen, there is terrorism and there are terrorists living. But the last time I checked terrorism and terrorists are not a religion. So for the last time what do you want me to say? Because you refuse to see eye-to-eye with me. If you want to know the truth look at the foundations of my belief, in one dialogue you’ll hear it in my greeting: upon you I wish Salaam. Which means peace.

Amina Iro And Hannah Halpern – A Muslim And Jewish Girl’s Bold Poetry Slam

We both live in a country that swears up and down that all people are equal. Our hands should be cupped together, fists raised as one, fighting against the stereotypes that this country has put upon my people…

This Jewish girl and this Muslim girl are far more similar than our religions would like us to believe, because I bet you didn’t realise that we have the same favourite movies, and that we both love…hummus! And we keep being asked the same darn questions every time we fall head over heels. Is he a respectable Muslim boy / Jewish boy? Did you meet him at the mosque / synagogue?…

Boonaa Mohammed – Kill Them With Love

Prejudice takes time but my time is business. And this just makes big dollars and sense. Why would you hate when love just costs less?…

Your ignorance leads me to believe that you really just need a hug…

Whether you like it or not, I am your brother…Yeah, you’re a racist but I’m gonna still hold the door open for you…This respect thing is just what I do…

So tell me what you’re gonna do when the love come for you? Insult my heritage? We’re both from Adam and Eve, fool!…

I ain’t impressed by money, cars, clothes, or fame. I am a Muslim, so the trinkets of this world don’t mean a thing…

I invite you all to join me in this jihad of love, and see first hand why fundamentalism still begins with fun. And if you don’t agree, I won’t even judge. I just kill you all…with love!

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan – This Is Not A Humanizing Poem

Write a humanizing poem, my pen and paper goad me. Show them how wrong their preconceptions are. Be relatable. Write something upbeat for a change. Crack a smile. Tell them how you also cry at the end of Toy Story 3, and you’re just as capable of bantering about the weather in the post-office queue. Like everyone you have no idea how to make the perfect amount of pasta still…

Tell them comedies as well as tragedies, how full of life we are, full of love. But no, I put my pen down, I will not let that poem force me to write it because it is not the poem I want to write…This will not be a ‘Muslims are like us’ poem. I refuse to be respectable. Instead love us when we’re lazy, love us when we’re poor…love us when we aren’t athletes, when we don’t bake cakes, when we don’t offer our homes or free taxi rides after the event when we’re wretched, suicidal, naked and contributing nothing. Love us then. Because if you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human…

My mother texts me too after BBC news alerts. Are you safe? Let me know you’re home okay. And she means safe from the incident, yes, but also from the after-effects…

I wonder when you buy bombs is there a clear difference between the deadly ones that kill and the heroic ones which scatter democracy?…

That rather breathtaking line ‘if you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human’ for some reason reminded me of the following quote from a Disney song:

You think I’m an ignorant savage, and you’ve been so many places, I guess it must be so. But still I cannot see, if the savage one is me, how can there be so much that you don’t know you don’t know? – lyrics from the song Colours Of The Wind, from the Disney movie Pocahontas (1995)

Sakila And Hawa – Why Are Muslims So…?

Just because a Muslim threatened you, you give us all the cold shoulder, knocking us out like we’re the pins and you’re the bowler…

May peace be upon you who let the hijabi girl sit alone during lunchtime. All she got was stairs like she’s a suspect of some crime. She was innocent but they would always whine that the hijab on her head was an ISIS sign. She was the butt of every joke, at the end of every punchline, yet you didn’t talk to her once. Couldn’t save her, not one time…

You say you are fighting terrorists from behind your computer screen, but can’t see that you’re the one terrorising me…No graffiti artist is gonna tell me to go home. No Call of Duty player is gonna threaten me. No overprotective bigot of a mother is gonna ruin my day. No ignorant bystander is gonna leave me feeling left out. No tumblr post is gonna scare me away. And no biased Border Patrol is gonna stop me from seeing my family…

Rudy Francisco, Natasha Hooper, And Amen Ra – Islamophobia

When Dylan Roof killed 9 innocent black people, we did not question his God. He wore flags of apartheid Africa. We did not question his allegiance. He committed the crime alone. We did not question his people. When Adam Lanza shot a classroom full of first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary, we did not ask him to leave the country. When Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma, we did not call this a crime against every American. When the KKK killed thousands of black people, while swearing to uphold Christian morality, we did not ask them to remove their robes, we did not call all Christians bigots. Do you see it? How we don’t label all white men based on the sins of a few. Do you see it? How we don’t have to condemn a whole class of people based on the actions of some. Do you see it?…

We should not condemn all Muslims for the radicalism of a group…Do your research. Islam is not synonymous with terror. It is literally submission. It is devotion. It is peace. Terrorism is actually forbidden and Jihad does not mean “holy war.” It means struggle. It means survival. It means standing face-to-face with everything that wants to put you in the ground, and choosing to be alive. Do your research and stop listening to CNN! Stop trading humanity for hypocrisy! Stop staring at Muslims at the airport! Stop letting your fear drag you into ignorance! Stop supporting billionaire Republicans who want to scare you into murdering the innocent, and start supporting leaders who speak peace in their native tongue! Instead of burning down the mosque, burn down the walls around the pulsating muscle in your chest and realize that we all have one. And lastly as the customary greeting goes, As’Salaamu ‘Alaikum: “Peace be upon you.” Wa ‘Alaikum As’Salaam: “And upon you be peace.” Do you see it?

Riz Ahmed – The Roots Of Terrorism…

This last video is something I recently blogged about, but it is so good I feel like sharing it again…

In these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
Guantanamo – sorry bro?
Nah, nothing, it’s fine

And in this post 7/7
Why they calling it that?
They’re trying to link it to New York
Like we’re all under attack from the same big bad guy
But it’s taking the mick
Because the truth is Al Qaeda hardly even exists
There ain’t no super villain planning these attacks from some base
The truth is so much scarier and harder to face
See, there’s thousands of angry young men that are lost
Sidelined in the economy, a marginal cost
They think there’s no point in putting ballots up in the box
They got no place in this system, and no faith in its cogs
They’re easy targets, that be getting brainwashed by these knobs
Who say that spilling innocent blood is pleasing a God
Well, it sounds good when you don’t see no justice or jobs
The gas bills are piling up, but all the oil’s getting robbed
So David’s taking out Goliath, and his wife and his dog
Segregated, castrated, now we see who’s on top!
So see, it ain’t religious faith that’s causing these crimes
It’s losing faith in democratic free market designs
It’s no coincidence that bombers came from ghettos up north
And the way that Bush and Blair talked gave a lost boy a cause
Then double standards get ’em angered, both at home and abroad
There’s a monopoly on pens that’s why they forge their own swords
They’re misguided, turned violent, strapped themselves up with bombs
But they’re still cowards, ’cause they ain’t here when the backlash is on

So in these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
Abu Ghraib – sorry mate?
Nah, nothing, it’s fine

So all the mans that wanna say that my religion has to change
That we’re stuck in a bygone age
It’s time to set the vinyl straight
Don’t you think it’s kind of strange that all this terror outrage
These last gasp castaways
These bastards that will blast away
Turned up in the last decade?
When Islam has been the way for millions
From back in the day?
Instead of thinking that we’re crazed
Investigate just what it says
Fast, help the poor, and pray
Go Mecca, be steadfast in faith
That’s the basics, that’s the base
So how did we get here today?
Well, interpretations always change
Today, they’re read with rage
Been jihad-ened up
Desperation’s kinda fucked
Makes you use a book of peace as weapons in Iraq
So listen, terrorism isn’t caused by religion or an old school vision of Islam
It’s against the Qur’an, it’s a new innovation caused by mash-up situations
That’s what makes them turn to arms
The problem is modern and it’s all local factors
Dictatorships, injustices and wars cause fatwa’s

So in these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
But it’s fine


  1. Thanks for compiling these. I’ve been using Suheir Hammad’s First Writing Since to start off my intro humanities class on Women and Islam, but sadly too few of my first-year students have any real memory of 9/11 these days for it to work that well! I was looking for the text of Sakila and Hawa’s poem to replace Hammad’s – you’ve saved me a little transcription work, and I’ll look at some of the others too (I already knew about my fellow Londoner Riz Ahmed’s piece and had seen Suhaiymah’s once or twice, but the others are new to me). Powerful collection of testimonies.


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