1st Place Winner Ali Hussain

A Letter to the Beloved
I remember when I first stood by your side,
outside an ornamented grille,
that surrounded your peaceful quarters,
and which gains its beauty from you.
You greeted me, yes, with a breeze.
What can I say, was it cold? Yes!
Was it warm? Yes. How can both be?
Well, like the perplexity of your beauty,
Which dumbfounds beauty itself,
anything, next to you, becomes nothing
and everything at the same time.
And you sent along a fragrance with that breeze,
how could you not?
When you are generosity itself.
You know better than me,
how long I had been waiting,
counting the moments,
and imagining you.
You gave me everything,
in a simple breeze with fragrance.
When I write these days,

I receive you from you in words.
But now that I’m asked to address you,
the lure and allure of love
wants to separate speech and address,
speaker from his dress,
and lover from beloved.
But love insists to ‘be loved’ with you,
you are not simply the destination of my words,
you are their spirit,
you are their origin,
you are the ink,
you are the inspiration.
Sometimes,
I seek to mention your name,
incessantly with nothing else.
In those moments,
I am not the only one,
who annihilates in you,
but language, time and meaning
become ecstatically drawn to you,
and withdrawn from themselves.
Other times,
I wish to be silent,
only to hear you speak to me
through the beauty and forms
of all things.
In those special instances,
you are more present.
I may not hear your name outside,
but I feel the reverberations
of the letters of your name,
in the forms, both inside and outside.

I pray that this letter melts away

in the ocean of those letters that belong to you!

3rd Place Winner Lina Abdul Wahab

Dearest Rasulullah,

I hear you,
When You say
That You wept
For your loss
As only a parent can feel
The suffering
Of burying
Your own
Offspring
For that,
My beloved Prophet
You gave us strength
We buried
Our offspring twice
And each time…
We thought of you
Who went through
Our shared ordeal
And just that thought
That you, and us
Have that shared moment
Where we understand
The pain…
That pain..
To be able share
That pain with you
Changes it.
It became sweet
Just because.
Nothing else. Just because.
We share it with You.

Allahuma solli Alla sayyidina Muhammad. Thank you for giving us the strength to carry on,
Ya Rasulullah s.a.w

With Love,
Umm Ihsan
(Lina Abdul Wahab)

2nd Place Winner Raidah Shah Idil

Dear Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him),
I tell my daughter about you.

She’s 3.5 and agreed to share her chocolate cake with you in Jannah. That is a big deal. She also wants her very own My Little Pony in Jannah – specifically, Pinkie Pie. That’s the extrovert, party-loving pony, much like my daughter. But you already know that about her, the way you know the shape of my grief and joy.

She asked me if you like chocolate. I said, “That’s a good question.” Have
you tasted chocolate before? I bet you’d love it, but you’d have it in
moderation. And you’d give it to everyone else, first. And maybe, just maybe, you’d have a tiny piece, just to make it sunnah for everyone else.
I tell her how much you like watermelons, and how your favourite drink is
cold water sweetened with honey. She can relate to liking sweet things. Once, she laughed and said, “I’m an ant. I like sweet things.” Later she said, “I like sweet things, like the Prophet Salam.” Progress.
I have a one year old too. Like all sisters, she both fights with and adores her big sister. Once, she turbo crawled past her big sister, grabbed her brownie, stuffed it into her mouth, grinned, then crawled away. My eldest looked at me in surprise, and we collapsed into giggles. These are the moments I wish my mother could share with us.
My mother lives in Sydney. I miss her so much. My daughter calls her Nenek. When she scribbled her biggest wish on her little teddybear notepad, it’s this:
“I wish Nenek will come here.”

She reflects my own heart. And oh, my heart.
How it chafes, in this season of my life. I long for the freedom of travelling
beneath blue desert skies; delicious, uninterrupted hours of sleep; and the
simplicity of reading an actual book in a quiet cafe – audiobooks are the only way I can ‘read’, these days.
But my heart’s deepest longing is this: for my daughters to love you. There
will come, some impossible day, a time when I won’t be around to look after my little girls anymore. The trajectory of the world is alarming. And I know that it is love, and not fear, that has the deepest, most transformative influence, on any of us. My daughters will make mistakes, like I did, and I pray that their love for you will always bring them back.

On the Day when I will run away from my own mother and daughters, just as they will run away from me, I know that you wait for us, with your patience, your love, and your mercy.
Help us find our way to you, O Beloved of God. Bind our hearts to you. Bless
my ancestors, and my descendants. May we all meet you in the Garden, and
share cups of sweet mint tea.
With peace,
Raidah