Devil ain’t so Bad

Banished from His Presence

for a spectacle of Dust;

Banished from His Presence

for a question asked;

Banished from His Presence

for civil disobedience:

I am the Devil.

Devil ain’t so Bad after all.

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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.

Happy Moments, Endings, Eternity & God!

1975

I see the passage of time and a moment of moments lived and appreciated in hindsight!

I am not a child anymore. The boy became a man and a shadow of himself. I now understand my beloved grandmother (Maa): This is a world of endings! Everything in it  perishes except the Face of God!

The song by Jagjit Singh, Who Kagaz Ki Kashti, captures the nostalgia Audio:  01 Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti. English translation follows:

Do take my gold, and my fame, if you must
 You can have my youth if you so do will
 But do give me back my childhood showers
 My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

Do take my gold, and my fame, if you must

 You can have my youth if you so do will
 But do give me back my childhood showers
 My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

She, who, lived here as old as the road

She, whom we children, called granny
She, who wrapped fairies in sweet songs

She, whose wrinkles of years so many

 And who, try as much, could forget them
Her fresh long tales filling nights so tiny

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

 To walk out in the scorching heat
To larks and those jays and chasing butterflies

We’d marry our dolls and fight over it

 High in our swings jumping far from watchful eyes

And those little trinkets of copper and bark

 Those deep scarlet marks of broken bangles and cries

My little paper boat, the fresh rain’s thrill

To drag our feet over smooth high dunes

A castle here, a hillock there

 Our innocence filling every picture and tune
Our life of toys and dreams

In a world of joy, relations none did prune

Wasn’t it beautiful, that life of ours?

Naked Beauty

Let water touch your naked skin;

Remove the cloth of decency & hypocrisy:

Let Water Purify You.


Photograph curtesy of Jordan Swavely, a photographer residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
http://jordanswavely.com/


Lost: Life & Death

Lost

I walked to the store,

In longing to buy what I had lost.

Though I found it was not there,

So I ran back in agony.

Then I realized that what I had lost would never come back,

Though that was not up to my deciding.

I walked to the store everyday,

Looking blissfully at the shelf where what I had lost would have been.

One day I got lost too,

And saw my loved ones checking everyday if I was on that shelf,

Though of course I was not.

One day my loved ones got lost as well,

And their loved ones came to see if they were on the shelf.

The I truly did realize that once we were lost once,

We were lost forever.

And that was the circle of life.

 

Happiness

My Salvation is beyond the Garden of Eden

or Noah’s Shore:

It is in Sin and Drowning Itself!

I seek a world

without Pain and Pleasure;

cancer and cure;

God and Devil;

Love and Hate;

Lost Dreams and Hopes;

Beauty and Beast.

But it will never be,

Never Be

while I Am:

I am the the Duality:

My Salvation is beyond the Garden of Eden

or Noah’s Shore:

It is in Sin and Drowning Itself!

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.

786/110: The Nature of God & Why We Struggle (caution: the language may offend some readers)

You are a whore to men

women and children too;

Been a lover to beast and man.

Longing to belong we slept with You

in hopes and dreams of today and tomorrow.

In my childhood I gazed upon you with innocent eyes

and a child like heart wishing for things that children do

making me believe I belonged to You and You alone and You were mine.

Now I approach death and realize:

You are a whore from eternity to eternity,

a lover to both young and old,

beast and men: making them believe what they wanted to believe-

filling the void of Longing to Belong.

I approach death knowing that you will have a different lover at your bedside.

But I am not alone in this: many others have passed before me and many more will follow.

The fault is mine: I presumed You to be mine,

an Eternal companion:

Instead You are a whore to every One.

Yet I believe in you still and thank you for this gift which You enjoyed with Me

while I slept with You Longing to Belong.

It is unfair that the faithful companion should die while the whore remains!

Yet You were honest in Your Treachery as I was naive in my love:

You had said it all along: “Everyone will perish except the face of God.”

An Apology & God’s Reply:

I am sorry for My Anger, My Friend:

I climbed from earth towards heaven gazing at Your Face

and I tumbled and fell to the pith below both Heaven & Earth

where darkness and despair prevails.

I cannot fathom why, my Lord, I hear your voice where darkness is intense

and yet you do not hold my hand and lift me out the pith of darkness and despair?

God’s reply:

I am caterpillar who wants to be a butterfly:

You are the metamorphosis.

I created You in My Image:

We lift each other out of darkness into Light.

Your joys and pains are mine:

Yet You are Not Me and I am Not You:

I am the First & the Last,

The Living God who, one day,

You will meet with a content soul on the day

when the Object will exist without a shadow:

I, without an Image.

Personal Reflections on Hajj- Part 1

I wanted to write my reflections on Hajj since 2007- I am finally getting around to it, abandoning all hope in “perfect expression” and simply telling you what I witnessed in my heart. I will post my reflections on Hajj in numerous postings, as necessary, to ensure I finally get around to sharing them.

The Journey

Mawt kabli mawt: Death before Death

In my view putting on the Ehram- two pieces of white unstitched clothes- during the few days of Hajj is like putting on your Kafand (burial cloth). It is like a journey to mawt kabli mawt- death before death -only to be resurrected purified. This is my personal explanation for why, at the end of the Hajj, in order to resume marital relations, one must do another tawwaf-circumbulation around the Kaaba-as that is the symbolic act of returning to life after death. Marriage in law comes to an end upon death- being resurrected purified resuscitates it.

Mawt kabli mawt is worth contemplation. I used to pray for “mawt kabli mawt”. Then during a tawwaf – circumbulation around the Kaaba- my chest was terribly squeezed by people around me- I could not breath and felt that I may die. Right at that moment, I saw a beautiful face of a youthful man who smiled at me. His smile said it all, “You are not ready yet to give up your life”  The people around me made way and I was able to breath again!

But the willingness to give up what is dear to us for “It”- a universal seed within us-is necessary for death before death. Ibrahim (Abraham) loved his son Ismail (Ishmael) and his willingness to sacrifice his son for  “Allah” permitted him to have both- Ismail and Allah. I found many “Ishmael” within me: for instance my love for my self- what I do for a living, the money I earn, my family, my house, my car- within me. Travelling or journeying in Hajj with so little- two pieces of cloth and the bare necessities that I could carry with me- showed me how little I actually needed.  When I was tired, I sat on the ground before me; at one point, having forgotten to take water with me, I stood in line for a bottle of water generously gifted by a man. I found that the simplest of pleasures were the most satisfying ones.

But why should anyone of us seek death before death? For the love of ourselves and God. The death we seek is not to the breath of God within us but to everything else.  It is actually the pursuit of the beautiful. I am also cognizant that My Allah is He who loves us to live our lives as our nature dictates- to live it passionately, when we must  The mother of Ismail ran between two mountains in search of water for her son- and this natural of all acts was so loved by God that he made the imitation of that act mandatory on all Muslims during the Hajj. The mother of Ismail failed to get water for her son- her action had no natural effect- yet God loved us being true to our nature so much that the spring of Zamzam  emerged below Ismail’s feet!

The days that I spent in Hajj is often a reminder to me of our possibility to die before our death and become free. A poem from Ayatollah Khomeini (See Note 1)  is worth a mention,  as it puts the mystic quest so eloquently:

If Noah’s salvation was in reaching to the shore,

My Salvation is in drowning itself.

(Wine of Love, a compilation of poetry by Ayatollah Khomeini)

Equality

All dressed in white in two pieces of white cloth is and should be a sign of equality.  It became apparent to me that I should pray that God should grant the prayers of the other pilgrims and mine: we were all standing together searching a glimpse of the Divine.

Regretfully, the message of equality is necessary for us, and I fear will be necessary for many generations to come- because Muslim societies and other societies are far from “equality”. Even in Hajj,  all the white clothes are not the same: it is dependent on the money you are willing to spend. Nor all pilgrims journey with the same or equivalent difficulty.  There are some pilgrims who slept on the ground, while others who stayed in relative comfort. If Hajj reminds us of equality of human beings, as it should, it did not have the effect on our souls to propel us to eliminate poverty within our communities.

The importance and benefit of socialization & Exercise

Hajj is a social event. You cannot perform Hajj on any days except the prescribed ones. The way to God is together and not alone. I enjoyed getting to speak to people and know them at an authentic level. The old and the young, and people of different backgrounds, dressed in two pieces of white cloth, often scorched by the sun, retreated into tents and had genuine conversation. We also walked everywhere. There was something authentic about our living and breathing. We ate to live and did not eat to live. We appreciated what we received. Eating also became a communal event. I remember that after Hajj, when we were in Medina, I received the news from another pilgrim that Benazir Bhutto had been killed. I had not watched any TV for two weeks at that point. There was a joy in socialization that one cannot compare to sitting on a couch, watching TV.

Hajj also provided a unique opportunity to know yourself and others at their best and worst. You really get to know people when you are reduced to the bare necessities, you jointly pursue a glimpse of the Divine, and have to constantly make choices about  loving one another- there are some who pushed their way to the Kaaba- there were many more who were filled with Divine presence and pursued both the Hidden and the Manifest faces of God. They were helpful to other pilgrims.


Note 1: By quoting the poetry of Ayatollah Khomeini, this blog is not endorsing his views or philosophy.  This blog will, however, take beautiful sayings and wisdom from any source without necessarily endorsing the source. For example, I have quoted from the Bible, without endorsing Christianity, in my reply on the topic of Non Poetic Rant: Euthanasia and Sanctity of Life: Are they Opposites?

The Opening

When I die

do not pray for me

or perform your rites and rituals.

If you must,  Live Well-

Our creation and resurrection are as a Single Soul:

Perchance you may be the bird on whose back I soar to Heaven.

________

Comment:

In Muslim practice, one recites Surah Fatiha(The Opening)  for the deceased. What is interesting about this recitation is that it is a prayer for one’s own guidance and there is nothing in it for the deceased.  Why then recite it for the deceased?  I understood the answer to be in Ch 31: verse 28 of the Quran “Your creation and your resurrection are not but as a single soul.”

Note: This Blog does not endorse any religion. However, spiritual insights from any source is considered and welcome.