2020 – Age 19+ Years: Winner

Nihal Valji (29)

Theme –  Rising for Justice

Judges’ comments: This past Muharram has been an introspective journey for all of us.  This poem captured the feelings and emotions of a lot of mourners who had to re-evaluate their relationship with Imam Hussain (a) and search within to understand how well the truth of Azadaari was embedded in their souls. This poem served as both a sympathethic ear and a warning voice.

Moharram 2020

Eyes, glistening, blood-shot and sore

Heart, broken, soft and forlorn

Chest, beaten, red and raw

Feet, heavy, as I walk to the door.

Candles, flickering, black drapes on the walls

Ambience, sombre, gathered to mourn

Every Ashura, the grief is reborn

Every Ashura, we lament until dawn

Weeping, wailing, in sorrow adorned.

We gather to remember, to grieve, to pray

The dark night consecrated by the lover’s wail

Never tiring of the pain, internally we burn

As we remember, for our Master we yearn.


But this year I find myself reflective,

Is it time to ruminate, reassess my perspective

Shrouded in sadness – is this all it’s about?

Ceremonial ardour – I may be devout

But achieving his mission? Am I held to account?

Or do I limit myself, unable to transcend, to surmount?


Another year, another Moharram has passed us by

I shout “Labbayk ya Hussain!”, but heeding his call – how hard do I try?

Am I just in love with Hussain’s name on my tongue?

Content with traditions to which I’ve so tightly clung

Not delving deeper into his sacrifice for me:

For the continuity of Islam, he stood against Yazid’s army.

Hussain taught patience, steadfastness and virtue

Never bow to oppression but to your faith stand true

Famished gaunt children – Yemen – we’ve seen on the news

Occupied Palestine, settlements, the Zionist ruse

Saudi, Bahrain, Pakistan – violence on the rise

Our brethren are suffering, for their love they’re chastised


Hussain’s call for help is being echoed today

Silent, resonant, unanswered, we have yet to obey

We have so much to learn from his stand in Karbala

I needn’t look far, for every day is Ashura

When oppression is normalised, the pleas for  help are unheard

Then, when it’s too late, our emotions are stirred

“I cant breathe!” a frantic cry that sent ripples through the world

A black brother, for the colour of his skin murdered

Twentieth century, yet I feel we’re in the dark age

Flagrant injustice met with temporary chagrin and outrage


Individualistic and frivolous pursuits-

distract me from devotion to where I’m needed

Hal min nasirin yansuruna, have I even heeded?

Hussain revolted to save the Islamic nation

But are we just stuck, spectators of admiration?

How many Abbas’s will charge to their death

Unwavering, selfless, right until their last breath

His love for his brother caused him to abstain

Thirst unquenched, refusing to drink before Hussain

How many Zaynabs who symbolise strength and nobility

Eloquent, defiant, yet leading with humility

Endowed with steadfastness, fortitude

Seeing only beauty in Allah’s will, filled with gratitude


Year upon year, I commemorate

Walking miles to those blessed domes I gravitate

But maybe it’s time that I start to look within

Allow my soul its revolution to begin

Love and devotion that now must translate to action

Not be misled by false altruism and benefaction

Woe upon me, my eyes were averted,

A creature of habit, around my duties I skirted

May my love truly soar to the heights he deserves

At last, let the lantern of his guidance set me free

From the shackles of my negligence as I embark on this new journey

To embody the action, mind and spirit of a true Hussaini


Forgotten Password?