I grew up in a home of Allahuakbars and Amens. 

Of Quran and Bible verses with song lyrics sprinkled between. 

I grew up in a home of prayer and prayer.  

Of Jesus and Isa. 

Of clasping hands and dhikr beads,  

“oh god” and “ya allah”, church Sundays and masjid Fridays. 

Of Christmas and Eid and the holidays between.  


What I mean, is that I grew up in a Muslim home  

witha Christian grandma and interfaith just be the way we live. 

Just be the way we breath and say “god is good” and “lord help me”  

And mean the same things. 


I grew up going to church when Auntie Charity, Granny, Darrell passed away  

and calling the pews my friends when the tears came and they held me.  

I grew up driving to the masjid every night in Ramadhan 

calling soft rugs my friends as I sat and ate iftar. 

I grew up wondering what could possibly be more beautiful  

than the commonality of our belief in God?  


My grandma, brown sisterlocks and fingernails polished red  

or green or blue, she taught me many things.  

Taught me Michael and Aretha. 

Taught me all the holy things that exist in the space between sunday choirs and R&B songs.  

Even taught me that saying “yo mama” is the fastest way to win an argument. 

But most importantly she taught me the grace of occupying a space that was not built for you.  

And loving it still because it is for the people you love. 


She stood in a circle one time, clasping hands with a room full of people unlike her  

and returned every “salaamu alaikum”  with a wide smile and “wa alaikum salaam”  

laced with a New Jersey accent.  

Her lips, teeth, and tongue finding home  

in the words of her daughter’s faith.  

She took us to church once,  

all four of her black muslim grandkids. 

Showed us the space  

and set us to work stuffing folders for their next event.  

No one wondered at our places there.  

Because what be more home than a black house of god? 

What be more natural than a grandmother and her grandchildren  

bound by blood 

and love  

and god, 

unafraid to speak their names at full volume. 


We, unafraid to list the things their mother, her daughter, taught us. 

Like how a prayer rug is the safest place to be during the apocalypse. 

Or the exact contour and value of a heartfelt “bismillah”. 

Or how there was only one force in this world more powerful than Mommy and Grandma.  


I grew up in a home of kaabas and crosses  

and perhaps all this means is, 

I grew up loving and knowing I was loved.  


Youth poet laureate Sasa Aakil shared this original poem at the November 3, 2022 “Celebrating Black Interfaith” event where nearly 300 educators, scholars, writers, activists, faith leaders, and philanthropists gathered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to explore and celebrate Black interfaith stories.