Archive for October, 2014

how can i find the words to express what i feel

my road to Muhammad goes through Husayn

it can be no other way

Karbala is Madina

Madina is Karbala


how can i sleep

for when i wake

something may distract me

from thinking of you

all i have is these moments

with aching legs

wishing to walk to you

and bloodshot eyes

longing to see you


in my heart

i can imagine the scene

one foot on earth

the other in Heaven

but i can only see a glimpse

of the beauty revealed

to Zaynab


i ultimately care not

for centuries of discourse

nor cultural continuity and contestation

they are only a means

so may this poem be obliterated to history

if it is nothing more

than a paragraph in someone’s dry essay

about 21st-century English lamentation poetry


what matters only

is if there is any sincerity

– a secret known only to al-Khabir

behind the tears welling in my eyes

and the burning in my chest

as i dream of standing before your palace in Heaven

my fist about to knock on your door

a long journey’s end


what would i do at that moment

when you opened it

would i throw my arms around you

and sob on your shoulder

or lower my head in awe

unable to move

until you tell me what to do


i am nothing compared to you

nor will i ever be

but hope in Mercy

means it is all possible



whatever happens

and however my life unfolds

and in whatever state i die

i simply ask that you overlook my manifest faults

and take me by the hand

to introduce me

to your grandfather


i can no longer imagine visiting him for the first time

without you


“…Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn…”


Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ali Muhammad

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Yā Ḥusayn

I am so ashamed tonight

More ashamed than I have ever been since I became a Muslim

because I don’t think I would have been strong enough to stand with you

on the plain of Karbala

I would have thought

“Why is he doing this?”

I would have thought

“I have a family that needs me and there is no way he can win”

I would have thought

“We still have the prayer, the fast, the pilgrimage and the Qur’an”

I would have thought

“This isn’t fard”

I would have thought

“I am a new convert, and I shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice so much”

I would have thought

“We are all Muslims, and I shouldn’t take sides”

but you – beloved grandson of the Beloved of the Creator of all that is –

you are not like me

you stand in the Truth

and from the center

see all the ways men go astray

such that if you had compromised, showed weakness, or acquiesced

all of us lost souls would have no qibla for our hearts

no guiding light to help us see through the darkness

and we would be left with tyranny and dissolution

where once there had been a light giving lamp

and had I lived on after your death

perhaps I would not have even been strong enough to publicly mourn your passing

fearful that those in Damascus would be watching and waiting

“We are all still Muslims”

I might have thought to myself

“I’ll just pray, fast, read the Qur’an, be good to my family, and insha’Allah that will be enough”

and perhaps many years later

I even might have signed up to march on Constantinople to absolve myself of the shame I felt inside

the shame of leaving you and your family in the burning sun

without so much as a word of protest

or a line of lament

but what value would there be in fighting the disbelief and injustice that infiltrates the cities of Earth

when my heart had already been laid waste by the forces of nafs, hawā, shayṭān, and dunyā

Allāhumma ṣalli ‘alā sayyidinā Muḥammadin wa ālihi wa sallim

yā arḥam al-rāḥimīn

yā arḥam al-rāḥimīn

I have no refuge except in Your Mercy

when You show me the hypocrisy that dwells within

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