Book Review: Survival of the Hardworking
Survival of the Hardworking is a collection of poetry and short stories published by Amina Hachemi, editor and founder of Muslim Creative Writers Network, an online space for Muslim creative writers. A charity anthology whose proceeds will go to supporting Syrians inside Syria and to refugees in neighboring countries, the pieces revolve around the theme of “survival of the hardworking” and have been written by Muslims from across the world.
Sister Amina Hachemi writes in her foreword about the book, “The constant flow of TV images depicting destruction, killings and injustice no longer affects us, it seems. We have become almost impervious to the suffereings of innocent people, victims of armed conflicts. Perhaps the daily media coverage of conflicts around the world have exposed our powerlessness, or is it guilt? We watch, mourn, pray and, in our moments of shock and pain, contemplate possible actions to help, then nothing . . . and the cycle of inaction starts again.”
This anthology is an attempt to do something, even if it may appear to be a small something to some, which can make a difference in the lives of the Syrian people that are suffering while enlightening those who may not know much about the experiences that ordinary people endure, overcome and celebrate day to day.
The first piece to jump off the page at me is titled I Speak and is written by Abdal Aziz al-Pneeli. He writes:
I speak the spoken word,
To raise the banner of this creed
Let Him be the Judge of this deed
Dawned in the east and dusk in the west
Dwarfing spires with domes and minarets
This word is preserved, protected
Sealed, on a tablet selected
Word up, elevated by guardian angels
This is scripture retold, not fables
This flag I raise for you . . .
And that is just the beginning. He goes on to paint a picture so vivid about current occurrences within the Muslim community that I am thrilled to have a copy of this book in my possession for sharing with my seventeen year old son who is still discovering for himself what Islam is and means in his life. Poets and writers such as Rafeeah Laher from South Africa, Jack Little and Josephine Rose from Britain, Abdullah Noman of Australia and Gabrielle Deonath from the U.S. take the reader for a walk through the lives of Muslims with touching glimpses into themselves and beautiful imagery that makes one reflect.
In the short story, They Were Never Shattered by Wardah Abbas, the central character Khadijah Husna tells a tale of war and displacement in Nigeria and Kenya to illustrate the resilience of the faithful who remain steadfast and who do not give up when they meet life’s challenges. Not all of the stories and poetry have the a happy ending as this one did, but all did perceptively convey some of the varied nuances of human existence and fragility.
The poem, The Water in the Rose by Donna Frances, weaves the threads of each writing piece for me when she writes:
an angel’s breath blows
into the dark dawn of life.
from that moment
the soul flows
like the water in the rose
penetrates oragnas, essence
abiding captive of our deeds
we reap, we sow
until at twilight seized
I’d love to go on and on about the works contained within this collection but one of the things that I enjoy most about discovering a good read is taking the journey through someone else’s words for myself. I highly recommend this book and have provided links for purchasing and for obtaining more information below.