Ages 19+ Years: Winner

Nihal Valji

Category 19 years & above

Theme – Courageous Choices

Judges’ comments:

A unanimous favourite of the judges, this poem was spot on the theme. It told a great story about a choice we can all relate to in today’s world and did so to a beautiful beat. It was personal, it was about courage and it was about victory through courage.


The Journey


The people of the world are like travellers who are being carried while they are asleep. (Imam Ali (A))


Dreary overcast London sky, commuters hurrying by

Smart suits and polished shoes, Gucci bags and Jimmy Choos

Big bonus looming soon, time is flying, soul immune

Too tired to feed my soul, career growth – that’s my goal

London living, fancy and fine, socialite circulating, out to outshine.

But this morning, is different.


I blink my eyes and look around as I begin my routine journey trying to stay awake,

Something stirs as I reflect, is this the path my life is set to take?

Am I happy in this bubble of materialism or am I a spider trapped in my own web

Caught up in the dunya- reality check-climbing up the ladder but I’m no more than a pleb

I’m just another hijabi sitting on the train

My youth is passing by and what can I really say that I have attained

Degree in my pocket and maybe Master’s one day

Job security set, and I can cook just not quite gourmet


But I want more than just to be another soul who’s trapped in the cycle of life

Work a few more years then just end up someone’s wife

My soul wants more, I have so much to be grateful for, but there is something lacking

Could it be that in this cycle I am caught and in my spirituality I am slacking


I want to learn, I want to soar, I want to rejuvenate my core

The city of ilm is where my heart yearns to be

Preparing for al-Qa’im and advancing intellectually,

The city of scholars, simple and pure

Focus is on the sublime and resisting the materialistic lure

The city of purity where hijab is so important

Morality is emphasised and religion undistorted

Hearts immersed in remembrance of the divine

Self-betterment and knowledge is where priorities lie

Masooma al Qom, Karimat al-Ahlulbayt,

In her presense, near that holy shrine, I will pave my fate…


But how can I leave my life here and all that I know

My family, my job, my friends, am I strong enough to let go?

This path that I thought that my life would take

Which seemed so set now seems so meaningless, but there’s so much at stake

Can I leave my life of comfort in pursuit of something greater?

Or will I not survive in Qom and return homesick and deflated


I can, I will, I must,

In the Almighty I will submit my trust

This choice is mine and mine alone

For my years that I have lost, I must atone

I will free myself from the shackles of convention and expectation

I will leave behind the London life for I have elevated my aspiration


‘This train terminates here, all change please’


The driver’s voice jolts me back to reality as I gather my belongings and head for the door

But my heart feels lighter, today is not just any day, today I’ve chosen more

I smile and inhale the fresh air as I step off the train

I will toss aside my apprehension for I have Paradise to attain


I walk towards the office with a spring in my step and a sense of relief

I have finally decided to embark on a new lifestyle, but one centric to my beliefs

No more fitting in religious duties around my work routine

Why have I reduced myself to a moneymaking machine?

My time is precious and my deeds are all I can truly claim

My quest for knowledge awaits, my humanity I will reclaim

My real journey has just begun.


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