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The City of Light

The City of Light gets brighter and brighter / As they wait for the King’s arrival

A sketched city framed by mountains, with a sunset backdrop. On a cliff, a red figure holds a torch.

The people of Madina keenly awaited his arrival. Suddenly, atop a hill, someone announced the Prophet had arrived. On hearing this, the people became wild with joy and recited “God is Great!” The children chanted in loud, cheery voices: 

?ala‘a ‘l-badru ‘alayna - The full moon rose over us 

min thaniyyati ‘l-wada‘ - From the valley of Wada‘ 

wajaba ‘l-shukru ‘alayna - And it is incumbent upon us to show gratitude 

ma da‘a li-l-lahi da‘a - For as long as anyone in existence calls out to God 

ayyuha ‘l-mab‘uthu fina - Oh our Messenger amongst us 

ji’ta bi-l-’amri ‘l-mu?a‘ - Who comes with the exhortations to be heeded 

ji’ta sharrafta ‘l-madinah - You have brought to this city nobility 

mar?aban ya khayra da‘ - Welcome you who call us to a good way 

“Speak good or remain silent” 

—Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Islamic prophet) 

The following villanelle is reminiscent of a poignant moment from Islamic history: The Prophet Muhammad’s migration to Medina. 


The City of Light gets brighter and brighter 

As they wait for the King’s arrival 

Who asks them to speak good or remain silent 


Men weld new beds and women pull out bigger pots 

To welcome home a new quest for survival 

The City of Light gets brighter and brighter 


Empty-handed they depart, leaving lovers, homes, and jewels of sorts 

The Muhajir¹ hiding in his house was always ready for a new trial 

And repeatedly whispered to his camel: ‘speak good or remain silent’ 


They spend the night of miracle at Jabal Sawr² hiding in fraught 

After calling him a mad poet, some magician, their archrival 

The Meccans ask, how is the City of Light getting brighter and brighter? 


The borders of Yathreb³ glisten as its children dance, chant, and trot 

Waiting impatiently for the Messenger who sowed the seeds of revival 

Come sooner O RasulAllah4 and make this City of Light get brighter and brighter! 

Alas, he arrives! He graced the people who sought 

the message he left for each and every disciple: 

As long as the City of Light gets brighter and brighter… 

Oh Ummati5, you must learn to speak good or remain silent. 


¹Muhajir (plural: muhajirun). Arabic for emigrant. The Muhairun migrated in the year 622 due to the torment they faced at the hands of the Arabs of Mecca/Makkah. 

²Jabl Sawr: The Cave of Thawr. The Prophet Muhammad spent the night hiding in Jabl Sawr with his friend, Abu Bakr. The Meccans had set a hefty prize for those who found Muhammad, dead or alive, and bring him back. Since he feared persecution, he hid in the cave until the hunt was over. 

³Yathreb. The former name of Medina, the City of Light. 

4RasulAllah. The Messenger of God. The Prophet was often referred to by this name. 

5Ummati: My people/followers. When the Prophet addressed his followers collectively, he often used the loving term: ‘Ya Ummati’ (O people of mine). 

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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