Paradise is Under Her Feet: Honoring Our Sister’s Sacrifices

Visual Verse [A Poem & Film] By Mustafa Davis and Amir Sulaiman

 Film director/photographer, Mustafa Davis and poet/recording artist, Amir Sulaiman teamed up to do an art series entitled, VisualVerse. These are spontaneous mash-up collaborations. Sometimes Mustafa will shoot something and Amir will give his interpretation in verse. Other times, Amir will write and record a poem, song, monologue and send it to Mustafa for him to add visuals. This collaboration was completed in a 24 hour period.


This was a very emotional film for me to make. I was in tears most of the time while cutting the footage together.

I shot this footage while in Malawi and it was just as emotionally difficult to shoot as it was to edit. I wept due to the immense beauty of the images coupled with the very real hardship the film depicts. It pulls at the heart and makes one want to smile and cry at the same time…a sort of beautiful melancholy.

The young woman in this film is a 14 year old orphan girl named Sosi struggling to survive against unimaginable odds, with no parents to care for her. I decided to make the film more abstract to visually show an inward reality that I was feeling…and possibly to mask the sorrow by making it more dreamlike.

My work is often as much about me as it is about the characters depicted and that’s possibly why this film was so difficult to make. I have to get to a very vulnerable place in order to bring out real emotion and its not always easy.

I’m a visual director and I believe that some of the most potent stories can be told without the need for dialogue or explanation. I was curious how Amir would interpret the film and if he would understand what I was feeling when I made it. I was concerned that the words might take away from the serenity and subtleness of the story. When Amir sent me the poem, I was once again in tears. His creative mind and sincere heart brought more out of the film than I was able to do on my own. He understood the message at an ever deeper level than I did.

I originally named the film “BEYOND” to signify that whatever it is we were feeling while watching it, whatever it is we thought we understood…that the reality was beyond what our minds could fathom. After hearing Amir’s poem I was so moved that renamed the film “SACRED.”


This was the most difficult write of all of the VisualVerses so far. When I finished, it was also the most satisfying. Alhamdulillah [All due praises to God].

This poem is about this young woman but also about women in general. The poem revolves around a quotation for Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him and his noble family. Once a man came to the Prophet saying,”O Messenger of Allah! I intend to go on a military expedition, but I have come to ask your advice.” He said, “Is your mother alive?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then stay with her, for the Paradise is under her feet.”

The poem is also specifically about my mother. Watching this young woman walk a mile or so and walk back a mile or so carrying 6 or 7 gallons of water on her head, I knew without a doubt that mother would do the same for me. That made my heart proud and my stomach sick. I am proud to have such a mother and I feel sick that I have not striven appropriately to show my gratitude.

I say “in her breast is a thousand allegories/ in her limbs is a million other stories/ in her womb is God’s Pride and Glory… Jesus Christ/ my paradise is at her feet.” This is about women in general. Particularly the Black Woman as the womb of all civilization.

In addition, since the creation of Adam (as), God has not brought forth a prophet or messenger (God’s Pride and Glory) except that he had to pass through the private parts of a woman. Our highest spiritual masters all came from a woman’s lowest opening. Surely, in this are signs for those who consider.

Jesus, for example, did not have a father but even he had a mother. This is why I mention him in particular. Then what is the appropriate honor given to these women, this noble creation, these prophet makers? Can we even measure or make a just estimation? I cannot. I can only say what my beloved spiritual master, has said, “Paradise lies at the foot of the mother.”



my paradise is at her feet

her soles make the dust sacred

her soul makes the dust sacred

what atlas carries on his shoulders

she carries in her arms

on her hip

her soles make the dust sacred

make the dust sacred

my paradise is at her feet

heaven help her

but heaven has

heaven has veiled her

like a bride

given away by her heavenly father

to man

but her holy matrimony

doen not match their ceremony

she was genuine

he was gesture

in her breast is a thousand allegories

in her limbs is a million other stories

in her womb is God’s pride and glory

Jesus Christ

my paradise is at her feet

her soul makes the dust sacred

her soles make the dust sacred

my paradise is at her feet

her soles make the dust sacred

make the dust sacred

taken for granted

my tongue

taken by granite

my ego

an embankment

to prevent what are heart is saying


so simple, holy and naked


so silly, phony and vacant

what atlas carried on his shoulders

she carries in her heart

on her head

my paradise is at her feet

her soles make the dust sacred

her souls makes the dust sacred

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