Sorry! An apology from Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) to humanity

We’re pleased to be able to republish a poem by the Syrian Kurdish poet Amir Darwish with permission of publishers Smokestack books. A collection of Amir Darwish’s poetry can be found in the book Don’t Forget the Couscous.   

Pic: Sharon Mollerus/flickr
Pic: Sharon Mollerus/flickr

An apology from Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) to humanity

We are sorry for everything
That we have caused humanity to suffer from.
Sorry for Algebra and the letter X.
Sorry for all the words we throw at you;
Amber, candy, chemistry, cotton, giraffe, hazard,
Jar, jasmine, jumper, lemon, lime, lilac,
Oranges, sofa, scarlet, spinach,
Talisman, tangerine, tariff, traffic, tulips,
Mattress (yes mattress) and the massage you enjoy on it:
We are sorry for all of these.

Sorry that we replaced alcohol with coffee for Enlightenment philosophers.
Speaking of hot drinks,
We are sorry for the cappuccino the Turks brought over.
Sorry for the black Arabian race horses,
For the clock,

Abdul in the US is sorry for what so and so did;
He does not know him but he is sorry anyway.
Sorry that we accompanied Columbus on his journey to the States.
And sorry for the Arab man with him
Who was the first to touch the shore and shout ‘Honolulu’
And named the place after him.
Sorry for the architecture in Spain and the Al Hambra palace there.
We apologise for churches in Seville
With their stars of David at the top that we built with our hands.
We say sorry for every number you use in your daily life from the 0 to
the trillion.
Even Adnan the Yezidi (mistaken for a Muslim)
Is sorry for the actions of Abu whatever who beheads people in Syria.

Sorry for the mercury chloride that heals wounds,
Please give us some –
Because the guilt of initiating all of the above
Gives us a wound as big as this earth.
Sorry for the guitar that was played by Moriscos in Spain
To ease their pain when they were kicked out of their homes.
Sorry for the hookah as you sip on its lips
And gaze into the moon hearing the Arabian Nay.
Sorry for cryptanalysis and the ability to analyse information systems,
To think what is at the heart of the heart of the heart and bring it to the world.
Sorry for painting Grenada white to evade social hierarchy.
Sorry for the stories in The Arabian Nights.

Every time we see a star, we remember to be sorry for Astronomy.
We are sorry that Mo Farah claimed asylum here
And went to become the British champion of the world.
Sorry for non-representational art,
Pattern and surface decoration.
We are sorry for all the food we brought over:
From tuna to chicken tikka masala,
Doner kebab
Right up to the shawarma roll.
And don’t forget the couscous.

If we forgot to apologise for something, never mind,
We are sorry for it without even knowing it.
Most of all we are sorry for Rumi’s love poems,
And we desperately echo one of them to you:

Oh Beloved,
Take me.
Liberate my soul.
Fill me with your love and
Release me from the two worlds.
If I set my heart on anything but you
Let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,
Take away what I want.
Take away what I do.
Take away what I need.
Take away everything
That takes me from you.

Please forgive us.
We are sorry and cannot be sorry enough today.


  1. Eloquent reminder that Western society is founded on contributions and influences from other parts of the world. I would imagine that the Bedouin’s use of mould to heal horses that influenced the discovery of penicillin and antibiotics, the single most important medical advance in history that has saved millions of lives must be worth an apology.

  2. The only people who need to apologise are those who are trying to take us to war and conflict. If anyone in any capacity is doing that in any way, they are either the last people who would apologise and the some of them wouldn’t even recognise themselves as warmongers anyway. And those kinds of people are found in every location, amongst every group of people and in every walk of life. The more war, competition, strife and conflict there is, the more of us begin to see the sheer bliss of peace and simply living in harmony with other people, whatever they believe or don’t believe for that matter.

  3. Of course no apology is necessary and none is being offered. The point I think being made is that self-education may be difficult but it is infinitely preferable to willful ignorance of these facts .

  4. Point well taken . Of course this was no apology and for a good reason, there is no need for one. Only the ignorant would demand such a thing and it is to be hoped for that those ignorant will take the time to be educated by this writing.

  5. The tile wall is in the Alhambra in Grenada, in southern Spain – this remarkably beautiful building, built in the 13th and 14th century by the Muslim rulers of Andalucia, is mentioned in the poem.

  6. This is brilliantly eloquent. I love the humanity of it. The simplicity. The way one knows from one’s own experience how it feels to be unsure, oneself, whether one is being ironic or sarcastic or sincere — how all these qualities co-exist simultaneously thrashing around within the human being because he is human or she is human.


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