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An Act of Charity in Islam

They say a smile is an act of charity in Islam. I start my day with a smile, loose and easy with my head tilted to the side and teeth escaping. I smile as I walk down Rickard Road. I smile as I’m shopping. During Bankstown Centro’s lunchtime rush, I smile at the middle-aged, Asian lady behind the sushi counter with round glasses and a neat bun. I keep smiling when she ignores me and then serves a blond, freckly teenager when he walks up to the counter several minutes later. ‘Smiling is charity,’ I remind myself.

Late afternoon, the news on the radio counts the death toll in an attack on a masjid. Inside I cry. I stop at the traffic lights and an Aussie lady with a tight perm rolls to a stop beside me in her beat up Land Rover. She pokes her short and pudgy middle finger in the air. I force myself to smile at her. Down the road an old man in a business suit, his pink skin bright in the evening light, stops to check his mailbox. He yells at me as I drive past, ‘They should have shot more!’

Jaw strained and eyes tight, I smile. “Wallahu yuhibu asaabireen.” “And Allah loves those who endure patiently.” (Quran 3:146)


This poem was produced as part of a series, published in partnership with Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. Editorial support for each poem published in A Sweatshop in a Red Room, has been provided by Winnie Dunn.

Go to Meyrnah Khodr's profile to read more poems