Clouds

Each day begins with Ar Rahman*, Ar Raheem**,
as you float in and out of my window screen,
lighting the world brighter each time you leave,
Or shading the world, providing reprieve,
a thermometer of mercy for our ailing atmosphere,
Both majestic and mild, opaque yet sheer.

When overwhelmed with grief,
Al Muquit*** becomes chief.
Your heaving tears lash the wayward sky,
pouring onto plants, your plentiful supply,
seeping through their hardened skin,
nourishing the life of their kith and kin.

But when Al Jabbar**** appears at the drop of a hat,
your electrical power combines in a vat
of energy that can strike, any moment, any place,
trees charred, homes burnt, human lives effaced.
With a fury, the wind begins to whip.
To a torrent of floods, you say, “Let ’er rip”,
adding thunderous applause all on your own
drowning out people’s screams, prayers and moans.

When you are As Salam***** though,
there is no greater peace and flow
than to gaze upon your billowing forms,
reminding us of time’s passing charms.
If only we paused our mindless actions,
looked towards your ivory abstractions,
adjusted our frantic pace to match yours,
laughed at your changing shapes and contours,
got lost in your ethereal wisps and wonders,
as you reminded us daily to rethink our blunders,
that what at first may appear solid and real,
is only an illusion, another layer to peel,
heavenly ephemera through which we’ll one day fall
into the realm of Divinity, keen to answer the Call.

This poem incorporates a few of the 99 names of Allah. Their meanings are as follows:
*Ar Rahman – The Beneficient
**Ar Raheem – The Merciful
***Al Muquit – The Sustainer
****Al Jabbar – The Compeller
*****As Salam – The Embodiment of Peace

I Need This Prayer More Than You Do

I need this prayer more than You do.
It brings me solace.
It stills time.

I need this prayer more than You do,
to distract myself from all other distractions,
hide away from the incessant noise,
tuck myself into child’s pose,
connecting with the earth
and all its myriad wonders.

I need this prayer more than You do.
It gives me discipline,
reminding me where I came from,
and to where I will return.

You say I must pray,
despite infinite angels at Your behest,
despite knowing the exact state of my soul,
the direction of my journey,
the judgement that awaits me.

Sometimes I remember to pray
and sometimes I don’t,
but one thing I know for sure is,
I need this prayer more than You do.

Without it, I wouldn’t know
where to begin,
how to carry on,
or when to finally fall.

This prayer is my refuge.
Each word I recite is a bridge
that I hope will carry me
from here to eternity.

Bliss

Sparking magic and wonder in an innocent child’s eyes,
autumn trees swathed in emeralds, rubies and citrine,
summertime sunsets reflected in still waters,
the sound of steam rising from a kettle,
sharing long-held secrets with a trust-worthy confidante,
stolen kisses with a long-time love,
gentle breezes skirting past during evening walks,
and the tingling sensation of reuniting with your Beloved:
this
is
bliss.
Moments borrowed from heaven.
Moments that make you wish
you weren’t so numb.
Moments that make you yearn
for the courage to feel
these blissful reminders
of Bliss itself.

The Beginning of the End

The beginning of the end for me
was the day I finally saw You for You.
Before that, you were just a name to bandy about,
a pacifier for those who had no clue.

You were to be more feared than loved,
that was simply the order of the day.
At least, that’s what I had been told,
and I wasn’t one to disobey.

Ironically, the moment
I felt You close by,
was when breaking the rules,
this I cannot deny.

Yet still, You revealed to me
a deep truth from within,
hidden under layers
of worldly din.

I believed at the center
of my lonely, lonely heart
that You didn’t love me,
I was somehow apart.

That belief shaped my actions,
my relationships, my core.
How could I flip this thought
so deeply stitched into my lore?

The answer is slowly and gently,
bouyed by the strength of Your love.
Could there be a stronger force
in this earthly world or above?

Now that I know You are on my side,
anything and everything seems possible.
An entire lifetime has been examined,
motivations analyzed and found tossable.

Frameworks have been readjusted,
future plans left open for guidance to come.
Some things are ending, others just beginning.
It feels like I’m mourning, my heartstrings a’strum.

As I bury my former self in the ground,
I wonder how long this grief will last.
I beg You, please, don’t give up on me,
as I overcome my treacherous past.

What will the other side look like,
I ask every day.
You present me with options
to choose from, but nay!

This time,
we’ll chose together,
You and I.

We’ll rebuild this life from love, not fear.
Even when I’m alone, I’ll know You’re near.

And this I can say
one hundred percent,
my heart has grown porous,
there’s no more cement.

I live only for You
and whatever good I can do,

till the end of time,
till the end of mine.

Dream Garden

Follow the dirt path bordered by translucent stones.
It will lead you to the garden of the heavenly Unknown.
To enter, move aside the large, rustling palm leaves,
then adjust your sight to a scene you won’t believe.
Meandering pathways crisscrossing in every direction,
trees of all shapes and sizes, shading lovers and their affections,
creating the perfect nooks for all seekers to rest,
to feel peaceful and content, abundantly blessed.
Some gather in groups, others in pairs,
some grasp books that appear out of thin air.
The sycamores, weeping willows and magnolia trees
provide respite for reading, for finding life’s keys –
be it the story of the very first woman and man,
epic tales of adventure, redemption, failed plans,
sprawling sagas of families, united, divided,
journeys to unknown lands, however misguided,
or fables of greed, revenge and downfall.
Here, you will find just the right book to heal all.
When you do, be sure to sit by the old banyan tree,
dip your feet in the cool waters of a stream running free.
As you lift the weighty cover of your truth-telling tome,
be sure to read the inscription before the rest of the poem:

“This is the story of an awakened lover,
whose pain led her far away from her mother,
led her astray and yet ever nearer
to the One who reflected her soul like a mirror.
Her heart was unveiled to the One and Only Task.
Her eyes glimpsed this garden in which you bask.”

Sit back, my friend, and enjoy the tale,
as a light breeze tickles your toes without fail,
and the fragrance of lavender lulls you to sleep,
dreaming of travellers who will urge you to creep,
who will lead you down rugged pathways, oh so steep,
bring you to your knees, and force you to weep.
They will tell you it’s time and that you must reap
whatever you’ve sown, like a powerless sheep.
But ignore their words, you must, so cheap!
Open your mind, let the Divine light seep,
into your soul, into your heart, so deep.
Know there’s only one way back to this garden keep,
and that is once you have learned how to make the leap,
yes,
once you have learned to how make the leap.

House of Mirrors

Some days this world is like a snow globe
in the hands of a gleeful child
being shaken with force and fury,
snowstorms, hurricanes, wildfires, riled.

Other days this world is like a house of mirrors,
each speck of love and good will
reflected from one crystalline heart to another,
multiplied, magnified, distilled.

Our crystal hearts come in all shapes and shine,
rubies, emeralds, sapphires, divine,
slate grey stones, cloudy pebbles,
prismatic diamonds, onyx rebels.

Some are cracked, some have coating,
bubble-wrapped or free-floating.
Some have dark stains, deeply set,
Others are polished, gleaming with sweat.

Each light reflects and absorbs
the One True Guiding Light.
Though we sense it all around us,
it blinds even the sharpest sight.

This life is like a treasure hunt,
with clues and signs at every turn,
nudging us in the right direction,
each prize, another truth to learn.

As I gaze upon the night sky,
I wonder if our microscopic atoms
revolve in synchronous dance with
our universe’s planetary patterns.

We started out as only One,
then separated into dualities,
branched into clans and countries,
created divisive mentalities.

How seriously we take this illusory life,
how foolishly we resist our intuition.
Surely, it leads those who listen with care,
to eternal peace and submission.

Mixed Messages

You say You gave us ample warning.
You say You made it clear.
You say we’ll find our way back to You,
even if it takes a hundred thousand years.

And so it is.
And so You did.

Yet still, we lie here in confusion,
so many choices weighing us down,
each one leading to countless others
like tree roots burrowed deep into the ground.

For each choice we make,
we beg for guidance,
but often all we get
are mixed messages.

Perhaps every choice is the wrong one
if not made solely to seek Your pleasure.
Or perhaps our choices
are actually chances,
portals to the Divine,
like the waves of the ocean
flowing gently, to and fro,
clinging doggedly to the promise
one day they’ll meet the vast horizon.

Do we choose education for our benefit or Yours?
Do we choose to work for our profit or Yours?
Do we marry, have children, treat others well,
for our legacy or Yours?

Only You know the landscape of our hearts.

Will choosing You mean everything becomes easier,
our choices less difficult,
our decisions less painful?
Maybe or maybe not.
It’s hard reading Your mixed messages
with this damned veil upon my heart.

I beg of you
to lift the veil,
to clarify my path,
and coax me along it,
because this limited mind,
this constricted heart,
this darkened soul
is blind.

I am nothing without Your light.

You say You gave us ample warning.
You say You made it clear.
You say we will find our way back to You,
even if it takes a hundred thousand years.

And so it is.
And so You did.

And I will hold You to that promise.

Your Compassion

Bathing in a glistening pool of Your compassion,
I stretch my body taut,
floating on a current of utter bliss,
happy to let go of all control,
relieved to hand over the reins,
skimming around rocks,
being led by waves and wind,
falling over a precipice,
only to have You catch me.
I’d been living like a blind man
struggling behind a steering wheel,
when all I really desired
was to let go,
submit,
to You.
My control was an illusion,
unhappiness, an illusion,
separation from You, an illusion.
Lift up the curtain between our worlds
so that we may finally be One.
And if you must make me wait then
turn me into a mad and gushing sea,
or the spiraling winds of a tornado,
a terrifying eruption of sizzling lava,
or a quaking deep within Mother Earth.
Let me wreak my havoc on this world,
with uncontrolled abandon.
Or else,
bathe me in the glistening pools of Your Compassion,
where time will not stalk me,
pain is a figment of the imagination,
and pleasure awaits at every turn,
the pleasure that I am on my way,
hungry for a taste of,
aching to reunite with,
finally ready to give in to,
You.

The Why Behind the Why Behind the Why

Inspired by Rumi’s “The Root of the Root of Your Self”

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in,
I look for the why behind the why behind the why.

Why…do I feel so alone?
When I know that You are with me
everywhere I go.

Why…do I forget Your presence?
When I can see Your signs all around me –
water curled up in the clouds,
the freshest air atop the tallest peaks,
Your grand design woven through the very chrysalis of creation,
as mankind grows and evolves,
sinks and dissolves,
paints the world in ugly colors,
turns its mess into a masterpiece.

Why…do I not see Your signs,
even when my eyes are wide open?
Is it You who placed this veil on my heart,
or my inner demons who blinded me
by lulling me into soulless slumber?

Why…do I still then feel pain,
despite every attempt to be numb?
Is this a punishment for my many transgressions,
or a merciful reminder,
more bitter than sweet,
of the ache,
the longing,
to be whole again?

If you look for the why behind the why behind the why,
the answer to every question is You,
Your infinite love,
Your magnificent mercy,
Your enigmatic plan.

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in
what I’m really doing
is meeting You at our favorite rendezvous,
dancing around You like a giggly school girl,
trying to get as close as I can.
What I’m really doing
is looking for the One
Who never gives up on me,
brings me gifts wrapped in pain,
wrapped in pleasure,
sends me love notes in every song I hear,
writes me poems in every word I read,
breaks my heart
only to put it back together again,
reminding me every second of every day
how dearly I am loved.

When the weight of the world overwhelms me,
I just look for the why behind the why behind the why
because that’ s our special spot,
and it’s a date for which You’re never late.

I Used To Live For Words

Although I’ve never been the most consistent blogger, today, I’m posting after about six months. The world has been through so much this year. During this time of uncertainty, I hope you’ve been well, and able to take time out to do all the things that feed your soul and help you cope.

One of the things I did during my hiatus from blogging was take a few online courses at the Rumi Center for Spirituality and the Arts, such as The Book of Love (about the teachings of the Quran), An Ocean in a Drop (about Rumi’s poetry), Opening the Eye of the Heart (a poetry writing course), and, currently, Awakenings (about the 99 Names of Allah). Each course created a safe space for me to write and reflect, and share my thoughts with a community of like-hearted individuals. The courses were lovely and I would highly recommend them to anyone out there who’s interested in poetry and spirituality.

I wanted to share some of the poems I’ve written during these past six months. The first one, below, is entitled, I Used To Live For Words.

I used to live for words,
the sounds they made 
when strung together,
the epic tales they told,
the deep emotions they evoked.
But with the passage of time,
I find I want to speak less,
breathe more,
and just be.
I want to use fewer words
to speak larger truths,
distill the essence
of my awareness
into a bottle
like a love potion,
to be passed on to others,
from one mouth to another,
till we’re all entranced and intoxicated, 
left speechless by Your magical presence.
I used to live for words,
but now I’m the one who
breathes life into language
and must speak from the soul,
hoping each word builds a bridge
towards the One I live to find.