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The Muezzin

for Seyyed Javad Zabihi

A seyyed—

the Prophet’s descendant—

he wore a fez—

as a pious Muslim

chanted the azan and

spiritual supplications

on the national radio—

His pleas

converted Muslims to Islam

His deep voice and tremolos

the purest praise of the divine in Persian

His instrument his throat

Like the arrow of Arash

the Muezzin’s soul—

would leave his body

and touch the believers and deniers

After the revolution

he was accused of

being in league with the kafir

Radio archives were purged

of his recordings

He came to fear for his life

petitioned ayatollahs for protection

was jailed for a while

Some time after his release

in the holy Muslim month

he was invited to a religious gathering

Later a photo

of his body

was sent to newspapers—


with his tongue cut out—

Young men brought into the fold

by the likes of the muezzin—

claimed responsibility

Still later, the Sharia ruler who sentenced

thousands of political prisoners to death

wrote that he had ordered the execution

The muezzin

became a muezzin

in a secular dictatorship

and was martyred by fellow-Muslims

in an Islamic Republic

in the month of Ramadan

Now he is in Heaven

His chants

transcending tongues

for an audience of one—


Islam immigrant

by Bänoo Zan

Bänoo Zan is a poet, translator, essayist, and poetry curator, with more than 280 published pieces and three books including Songs of Exile and Letters to My Father. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Canada’s most diverse and brave poetry open mic (inception 2012). It is a brave space that bridges the gap between communities of poets from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, poetic styles, voices, and visions. Bänoo, along with Cy Strom, is the co-editor of the poetry anthology: “Woman, Life, Freedom: Poems for the Iranian Revolution.” Deadline for sending poems is March 2024. Find the submission guidelines here:


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