A Flowery Prose in Shame

Say not:
‘But for the Grace of God’
‘Karma’
‘Alhamdullillah’

A flowery prose in shame

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Both God and men abdicating free will

In the Design of pain and suffering.

‘Is God a slave to man’s free will?’

A hungry infant asks.

We repeat without thought,

‘But for the grace of God’

‘Karma’

‘Alhamdullilah’

Soothing, self assuring,

Except to the child

I swear by The Forbidden Tree

This Is:

An instinct, an emotion;

An Old love and Hate;

God and Men playing Roulette

Abdicating Free Will

Note: This poem should not be taken literally. There is beauty in being grateful to God provided one understands that the relationship between us and God is a complex one involving each having the freedom and responsibility to act. For instance, in every scripture, God asks us to be good to others- the Grace of God is given through our freedom. In this sense, the injustice is in our choices. For us to give our choices the name of God’s grace without acknowledging our freedom in the result is abdicating our free will.

The reference to the forbidden tree; an old love and hate; both men and God playing roulette is again mystical and ought not to be taken literally.

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The Story of the Bee and the Human Being

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Armed with righteous authority of legal title

to a piece of land I call home, backyard and all,

A Bee made its hive no more than a foot by foot

on the side of my deck,

disturbing none.

Does not the Bee know I am the owner of this all; I have a paper to say so?

I set out to destroy the hive.

Confused, the Bee asked:

How do humans live?

Cannot a Hungry Child eat a fruit in plain sight?

Cannot a Homeless Family build its nest on vacant land?

Is that not the Law of “It” who you call God?

“We are civilized,” I informed the Bee.

“We respect both the Fat and the Hungry; the Homeless and the Sheltered:

A child may eat a hanging fruit in plain sight as long a fence and titled deed gives her the right;

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The homeless may build on vacant land not owned by someone else.

Yes, this does not feed and shelter all

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but without our laws chaos would ensue and civilizations crumble.”

The Bee fled thinking all the while:

I have not seen hunger or thirst following “It”:

Unto man his laws.

I have not seen a Mightier Fool.

Poetic Uproar

When will charity end and justice begin?

Charity feeds me one day,

keeps me hungry 364.

You sanctify the Way things Are at my expense:

You feel content for one day’s giving while I starve 364.

I rather you burn your Crescent and Cross (*1)

and starve with me: Then you will see the tyranny of the Way things Are

and the Evil of your Charity:

Your charity presumes ownership of what you store for a rainy day

while I starve in poverty without a today or tomorrow.

Without Justice,

Charity is Satan’s cloak:

You presume to give what is not yours.

Foot Note 1: The reference to “You rather burn your Crescent and Cross” is not to be taken literally. Both Christianity and Islam are great religions. The purpose is to invite the reader to ponder on the hypocrisy of those who take the shell and abandon the spirit of their religion. To that extent it is to be taken literally.

We are the Hungry Games

This past Friday (March 24th) my son and I went to see the movie “The Hungry Games”. I really enjoyed it, partly because the little guy/gal wins at the end even though the system is set against them. I am assuming that most of you know that hungry games is a movie about a ruling class which forces competition to death between selected members of different poor districts in a selected location and this competition is witnessed on live Tv.

What struck me was that the child who is poor and starving in Somalia may see me and you- the ones who live virtually with our fancy gadgets while they starve-as if we are the perpetrators of the Hunger games. Now surely, I tell myself and hopeful you concur, we have no power. We are part of a system and this system allows for poverty, hunger, starvation, loss of limb and life, and lack of universal human rights and dignity, including universal (world) health care. We have no control.  Or do we? We play in the Hunger games by participating in the system. Perhaps the Occupy movement, though insignificant in its impact, makes a point- we, within the system, who are more privileged, will not step outside of our comfort zone because we are doing okay- we are the beneficiary of the Hungry games.

Visual Ziyarat of Bibi Zaynab/ Zainab binte Ali, Damascus (6 minutes, HD Video)

For those not familiar with Zaynab binte (daughter of) Ali, I respect her for her commitment to truth and justice even after she was taken prisoner of war after the defeat of her brother Husayn in the battle of Kerbala on October 10th, 680 CE (10th day of the first month of Muharram in the Islamic Calendar 61 years after Hijra). Husayn, the grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam, and the son of Imam Ali and Fatima, refused to swear allegiance to an unjust Khalif (King) Yezid  who did not respect the individual, social and religious rights of his people. Armed with only 72 men, and accompanied by his family, he stood up against army of thousands. Even after three days of siege where water was cut off , he refused to surrender and walked peacefully to death knowing that what he did was right and necessary. Amongst the dead included his 6 month old child who was killed when Husayn requested for water for his 6 month innocent child, his 18 year old son Ali Akber, his brother Abbas, the commander Hur of the enemy army who joined Husayn at the last minute knowing it was the right thing to do, his friend Habib ibne Mazahir, and the sons of Zaynab, Awn and Muhammad who were teenagers at the time. His sister, Zaynab, along with many others, was taken a prisoner. Even in chains, she eloquently spoke out against the injustice of Yezid. She was also mystical. When taunted by Yezid about the fate of her family and friends in Kerbala, she said she saw nothing but beauty. In that she was right-the worst crises brought out the best in men, women, and children who stood by justice and moral perfection till the end. Fearing a revolution, Yezid released the family of Imam Husayn. Zaynab spread the message of the fearless struggle for freedom and justice till the end of her days. Yezid was overthrown shortly after the tragedy of Kerbala. The message of Husayn which resonates with me is: “Even if you do not have a religion, at least be free in your world”. Mahatma Gandhi said of Husayn “I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed.”

Zaynab is buried in Damascus, Syria.  I call her the door to Ali. There is a sense of peace and calm at her monument. I could feel the peace and her powerful presence. I consider her to be a Saint and she has my love and adoration. Yezid’s palace remains in a sorry state of decay, his legacy is that of a tyrant and there is no monument or grave to mark his demise that visitors to Damascus may witness.

Freedom

“If you do not have a religion,

or fear resurrection (to be judged for your deeds),

then at least be free in your world”

These are the words of Husayn ibne Ali and are a call to freedom in the most universal sense.

I have not known any human being who has been more free than Husayn or whose call for freedom was more powerful.

He was a man who was saintly without giving up his humanity (while refusing to accept the unjust leadership he pleaded for water for his six month old child ), and human being who loved without attachment. He pursued what was right and fought for social, political and economic justice against the 6th Khalif (Ruler) of the Muslim world more than a thousand years ago. He sacrificed more than any man I know as a father, husband, brother, cousin, friend, comrade and individual. He was a free man in that he did what was right and was not bound by what he knew would be a terrible consequence for himself, his family and comrades in refusing to recognize an unjust leadership: death for those who fought with him, imprisonment, poverty and desolation for those who survived. Yet I know of no man who was blessed with the company of better human beings than him: his family, friends and lovers stood by him till the end.

Husayn was beheaded after the battle fought in the lands of Kerbala on the tenth day (Ashura) as he made his last prostration. But not before the commander of the enemy army responded to his call, and chose to be free by doing what was right, abandoning the “winning team”, and joining the cause of justice. This man was aptly named “Hur”, meaning free. Husayn’s sister, Zaynab, was taken as a prisoner after his death but even in chains she stood by justice and when mocked by the enemy she said she only saw beauty.

There was shortly thereafter a revolution leading to the overthrow of the despot Khalif Yezid.

The slogan for many that know Husayn and wish to follow in his path of freedom and justice is “Every day is Ashura, every land is Kerbala”.

I commend the story of Husayn to all lovers of freedom.