Islamic Poetry in English

Rich and evocative Islamic poems of life, faith and worship

"Hayward's eclectic poetry reflects his enigmatic mind. ...
His poems are passionate and full of rich images and exert a strong and dignified intelligence."
Chaff




"Hayward’s journey of exploration, transformation and illumination forms the beating heart of this moving collection of poetry [which is] a timely and important work that reveals the struggle and profound insights of someone bridging cultures and faith traditions."

Passion Islam, November 2017.


Poems from the Straight Path reflects, chronicles and tries to make sense of Joel Hayward's conversion to Islam after two decades as a fish-out-of-water Unitarian within trinitarian Christianity. The realization that the God to whom he prayed was one, not three, and that Islam was the way for him to worship the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus prompted a life-transforming journey that led Hayward, at almost forty, finally to bow his face to the ground before God for the first time. Despite being religious for twenty years he had never bowed as a man should; as low to the earth as the human spine will allow.

The process of learning Islam is more profoundly complex and confusing, yet stimulating and satisfying, than for those who were raised in Islamic families or communities can possibly imagine. Everything needs to be learned. But first everything needs to be unlearned. Hayward's journey of exploration, transformation and illumination forms the beating heart of this moving collection of poetry. Yet his poems deal not only with his own conversion and other spiritual experiences, but, more importantly, also with the everyday challenges and hopes of western Muslims who wrestle to understand their gone-astray society and its encroaching pressures. This is a timely and important work that reveals the struggle and profound insights of someone bridging cultures and faith traditions.

Purchase Pain and Passing HERE!


Written with rawness, honesty, and pathos, these poems embrace the pain and heartbreak of loss and mourning and reveal the acute spiritual questioning that even devout believers inevitably experience. Written each day as the outpouring of a heart torn open by painful loss, this collection unfolds in a sequence that coincides with the stages of grief and healing. With deep spiritual insights, Hayward's beautiful poems shine a light on something often hidden away within Islamic discourse; the pain of loss and the wounded soul's pleas to God for explanation, restoration and solace.

"Joel Hayward has produced another striking collection of Islamic poems. This volume not only expresses all the shades of grief over the death of his beloved wife but also explores the wide range of emotional responses within himself to her passing away and to his changing memory of her. These emotions sometimes lead the poet to question God and the order of the universe; we are exposed, like him, to a variety of scenarios from the initial diagnosis to the final disposal of the body into an "ugly hole." The bereaved one searches painfully, in powerful verse, for what is left of life's meaning: "Your number's in my phone / I'll never delete it / I'll never call." Yet again, Hayward's disarming simplicity evokes a religious depth that is called upon to confront life in all its dazzling unpredictability."

—   Dr Rafey Habib, Professor of English, Rutger’s University

author of Shades of Islam: Poems for a New Century


"Much has been written about loss and pain, but I have yet to read something that even comes close to this collection of poems by one of the most extraordinary poets I have ever read. Joel Hayward is a multifaceted scholar of the highest caliber, and his genius and skills are vivid in these beautifully written, deeply reflective, and highly emotional verses. Having gone through such challenging times, the author offers the reader personal insights and practical approaches that are refreshing and consoling, and which give great hope to the mournful heart. Pain and Passing is a highly recommended work of art for anyone seeking answers to deeper questions about life and death, but also about the process of grieving and healing."

—   Flamur Vehapi, author of A Cup with Rumi: Poetry


"[Joel Hayward] is a very skilful and gifted poet whose way with words is impressive. His poems ... provide a powerful commentary on the social, political, moral and religious challenges and difficulties currently facing Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The fact that he is able to do this in an elegant, evocative and inspiring way is an added bonus. ... The poet is able to blend the personal, emotional, spiritual and existential dimensions of human experience, and do so without in any way over-playing or undermining any aspect. This is a very rare skill for a poet to possess. ... This is one of the best collections of Islamic poems I have read for some time; a must read for both Muslims and non-Muslims.”

— Muhammad Khan, The Muslim News, Issue 276 (27 April 2012)

Splitting the Moon tracks scholar and author Dr Joel Hayward's intriguing journey into Islam, his fascination with the mysteries of faith, his experiences and observations as a Western Muslim, and his thoughts on the state of the Ummah (Islamic community) today. He writes his poetry to capture events each day in the way that some people keep a diary. They are therefore deeply personal, yet reflect the ever-changing world around him.

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