Is that jihad war for Allah and his people?, and victory that you have shown the world the evil of your foes? Allah the hundred- named if he is all you say faces no danger; the shells the bombs the phosphorus that you with pinprick rockets prod your enemies to hurl upon your homes your schools your hospitals your mosques your markets is that jihad and victory? Sick burned in bed your wives and children crushed or blasted in their kitchens — how is that jihad for Allah’s people? Rather you have satisfied fierce anger at the wrongs inflicted by your foes. Your revenge-lust has thrust aside kicked and trampled heart-wisdom has drawn down death and fire upon Allah’s people.  

Words of Joachim the prophet

Joachim the prophet lifts high his voice; he calls from where he walks and dwells in the Negev. He seeks the rulers of his people; he travels to their towns to meet them, they will not hear; the shutters of their hearts are closed against him, their mind-doors barred. So in the streets he cries: Thus says Elohim the Lord of loving-kindness, who watched you through your anguish, the years of your dispersal, allowed the scattering that held your heritage alive when foes would wipe you from the earth — thus says your Lord: Though I, your God have suffered much through centuries of watching, through times of your oppression, though I have ever born your pains within my heart, yet pain on your account has never knifed as now. You were a chosen people to me, a holy people called to teach my ways among nations, to lead them in my paths. I cry aloud. Where shall your Lord find solace, find strength, find comfort, when my folk forsake my ways and my chosen ones stray far? My tears rain on your land; bitter are its waters now, salt its once-sweet soils. You’ve spurned my message, my teaching of three thousand years; a soft answer turns wrath away, oils the waves, stills hot winds of anger. You’re not the only folk of Abraham who’ve learned to worship me and follow my commandments; you rob their life and livelihood, your cousin people; you took their lands and water by power of your wealth and arms, you drove them from their homes, built walls against them, and still you creep and take from what is left them; you slay their leaders you demand they not be armed against you, you who answer stones with bullets that the blood of children runs in streets and oozes over pavements. Three thousand years ago I bade you love your neighbour as yourself. They also are my people whom you oppress; they are your neighbour, and bear my mark of circumcision. You must live among them; that is your history, my challenge to you. Your deeds are far from loving, from giving soft reply as Solomon my servant taught you. Be not surprised then at their anger, that now you answer not with love but mortars, shells and rockets hurled from land, from sea, from air; you slaughter the women, the children the old even in their homes, their place of refuge. You burn those left with phosphorous; their skin peels from their flesh. And then to heap my pain still higher, you who fling terror call your cousins terrorists. You match in ill your enemies of old. Thus speaks your God.  

Peace Prayer

O were there a man of Gotama’s wisdom; for once he stepped along a river between two armies lined up for slaughter, to calm the keyed up kings and captains sharp with spear, with sword, with bow, holding horse- and heart-reins against both death- and flinch-fear before their fellows, and brought them at last to talking. — O were there now a man of wisdom to teach those warring sides, their leaders, their ministers, where courage lies, courage in the act of talking, courage to set down bombs and rockets, to face each other and themselves across a table, to stay the course until war’s cause is talked away; to teach them anew that ancient truth, anger breeds anger, mildness mildness and always to speak a quiet answer.   About the Poet:
Murray Alfredson BA (Melb.) MLib (Wales) has worked as a librarian, a lecturer in librarianship, and in Buddhist chaplaincy. He has published essays poems, and poetry translations in eight countries; and two poetry collections: ‘Nectar and light’, in Friendly Street new poets, 12, Adelaide: Friendly Street Poets and Wakefield Press, 2007; and The gleaming clouds, Brisbane: Interactive Press, 2013. (Available through IP at: http://ipoz.biz/Titles/TGC.htm, and through Amazon) He has won several poetry prizes and commendations, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2009 and again in 2012. He was born in Mildura, by the River Murray, and he lives now on the Fleurieu Peninsula by Gulf St Vincent in South Australia.
‘Nor does the record tell the young lad’s terror as his father raised the newly whetted knife of bronze; nor does it tell the narrow glint of sun along the edge, burnt deep, in Isaac’s memory.’ – from ‘Isaac’s boyhood’ M. A.