Archive for the ‘Layla’ Category


وَعَادَاهُ لَكَ بِحَقِيقَةِ الْعُبُودِيَّة

shows enmity toward [Shayṭān] through the reality of servanthood



once upon a time

someone knew You

he knew You better than most

he loved You

he worshipped You

the mysteries of the unseen were his

and yet

he did not obey You

he did not affirm the rank of what You created

he did not submit

thinking that his knowledge of You

saved him from You

and so he was banished from Your mercy


even though

he was not banished from knowing You


so we seek Your mercy

for only You are to be feared

and we seek refuge in You from You

for knowing You

does not necessarily save us from You


so grant me the realization of my eternal servitude

by Your mercy

send me where You will

not as i will

engage me in that which You want

not what i want

surround me with those You choose

not those i choose


if you want me to make sajda

to someone You created

i will

for You know that which i do not

and i am Your servant

nothing more

لا إله إلا أنت سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين


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Unexpectedly, I am brought back to reflect on how this blog began 10 years ago. March 2008 to March 2018.

I don’t think anyone knows that the name of this blog, “A Mercy Case,” came from the Hindu story of Jagai and Madhai. In short, two sinful guys (Jagai and Madhai) throw an earthen pot at a religious person named Nityananda, causing his face to bleed. Nityananda’s spiritual master, Chaitanya, is about to kill them in response, but Nityananda intercedes and they are spared. Moved by this act of compassion, Jagai and Madhai reform their lives and follow the teachings of Chaitanya.

Back in March 2008 (when this blog began), a Hindu friend described the incident of Jagai and Madhai as “a mercy case,” and that was my inspiration.


In my very first post, I alluded to this:

Guidance can sometimes come from the most unexpected of places. The inspiration to write came from a chance encounter a week ago, and the title of this endeavor came from a phrase used by a friend of mine who is not a Muslim. Wherever we turn, God is there, no matter how often we forget.

The same Truth still holds today.

I have lived the last 10 years in the tension between believing that God is guiding me and admitting the possibility that I am in a state of delusion. The atheist surely believes I am deluded, whereas a Hindu might consider me to be more or less going in the right direction, but with some serious modifications to be made if I want to succeed at the moment of my death. But the most important thing to me is that, if you have lived life through my eyes, then God is surely real and in whom else can I possibly hope except the One who is with me wherever I am. And I can not live life through any eyes but my own, as much as I may wish I were able to experience existence the way millions of others do. Only God can do that.

لَّا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ

No vision can take Him in, but He takes in all vision. He is the All Subtle, the All Aware.

Over the last 10 years, these posts have contained many many quotes. It is inevitable that our religious ideas are formed by the ideas of others. And so I want to share a quote (see video below) on this special occasion that describes my experience of faith probably better than anything else. Maybe in the next ten years faith will mean something different to me than it does now, but I do not know my future. All I know is my present and what I can remember of the past. It is no surprise to me that this quote comes from Hamza Yusuf, one of my teachers and someone who has had a lasting impact on thousands if not millions. Whenever I speak with him, I am reminded that we are both searchers.

Almost without a doubt, 10 years from now some of us will not be here. Only God knows. Best to keep on doing our best, worshiping our Lord until certainty comes.

May the Most Merciful of those who show mercy lead us all into Eternal Mercy, ameen.


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i will never be good enough

i will never know enough

i will never do enough


so in what do i hope


وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِين


my Mother

hold me close

my Father

please be proud of me

my Lover

do not leave me

my Lord

save me from punishment


i have nothing to offer except my neediness

nothing to give that is worthy of You


for what can i give that is not already Yours


i am sorry

a thousand times over

i am sorry


i am sorry i cannot be better

i am sorry i have failed so many times

i am sorry i forget You

and feel entitled to what You have blessed me with


this is me

but You are You

the One that everyone needs

and yet needs no one


يا أرحم الراحمين



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there was once a woman named Zaynab

who was more important to God than i will ever be

and she witnessed things far worse than i have ever known

and yet she said

ما رأيت إلا جميلا


there is a Love that never ends

يا ودود

there is a Light that always shines

يا نور

beyond the sadness and darkness


the angels knew we were rapists and killers

but they couldn’t see the secret within

that could know all the Names


how do you know Love

how do you know Light

how can a woman see mutilated bodies

and say

ما رأيت إلا جميلا


“…The fact is that it is not the eyes that turn blind, but what turns blind are the hearts contained in the chests”


there are times when what my heart sees is more real than what is before my eyes


i asked the young Rohingya girl what her name was

“Zaynab,” she said

and she told me that her Play-Doh

was rice and some aloo and an onion

but all i could see

was Beauty


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right now

right now

three billion souls are speaking to God

one invokes the name of Jesus

upon him peace

dreaming of Rome

another imagines Krishna in his mind

as she speaks her need

longing for Vrindavan

still another looks at his palms outstretched

as he invokes the Creator

yearning for the Kabah


an inhabitant of Earth


a sacred soul


believing they are heard


i worship the God Who Hears what i type

as well as the secret whispers within

Who Sees between the atoms of my liver

beyond the reach of scientific minds

Who Speaks to me through Arabic words

بَلَىٰ قَادِرِينَ عَلَىٰ أَن نُّسَوِّيَ بَنَانَهُ


the Lord of my fingerprints

in whose Hand is the cosmos

and everything beyond


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trying to speak to God

Last night, I felt so close to God that I felt like I was not real – a fading shadow, soon gone from the world. For hours, I was trying to put into words what I was feeling, but nothing felt adequate. Then I read the words attributed to Imam al-Sajjad, upon him peace, and they expressed it better than I ever could.


O God,

if You will

You will pardon us through Your bounty

and if You will,

You will chastise us through Your justice.

So make our ways smooth to Your pardon through Your kindness

and grant us sanctuary from Your chastisement through Your forbearance,

for none of us has the endurance for Your justice

and none of us can reach deliverance without Your pardon!

O Richest of the rich!

Here we are, Your servants, before You.

I am the neediest of the needy toward You,

so redress our neediness through Your plenty

and cut us not off from our hopes through Your withholding,

lest You make wretched him who seeks felicity through You

and deprive him who seeks help from Your bounty!

Then to whom would we return after You?

Where would we go from Your gate?

Glory be to You!

We are the distressed,

the response to whom You have made incumbent,

the people from whom You have promised to remove evil

That thing most resembling Your will

and that affair most worthy for You in Your mightiness

is showing mercy to him who asks You for mercy

and helping him who seeks help from You.

So show mercy upon our pleading with You

and free us from need when we throw ourselves before You!

O God,

Satan will gloat over us if we follow him in disobeying You,

so bless Muhammad and his Household

and let him not gloat over us after we have renounced him for You

and beseeched You against him!


[modified translation of du’a #10 from al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya]


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dear God

i am so tired

the world’s woes pile up in my heart

which cracks and cracks


the idea that i have a heart

seems like a delusion


there is an essence of who i am

somewhere deep below

that i can only reach

if i let You wash away everything

other than it


names like al-Naqi


and others

are “names along with other names”

but they speak to me of essences

beyond the quark

transcendent yet historical links in a chain

back to the burial of Your Prophet in 632 AD / 10 AH

send him and his family blessings and peace!

back to You beyond time

but also

traveling companions for 2017 AD / 1439 AH

whispering to me

that one day

every tear will make sense

but also

forms encasing meanings

each an ocean

from which every time i take a sip

i am satiated

but also

dreams of another world

the resting place of human hopes

from the time of Adam

unto the end of the world


and i long for the one who carries their living legacy

who can speak to fire and make it cool

strike at the sea and provide safe passage

tell the dead to walk

and unfold every meaning of the Qur’an

for behind him

we would have no doubt in our direction

infallible commands

worthy of every cent under our control

more valuable than every drop of blood in our veins

the living leader of billions of embodied essences

attesting to Your oneness

so why suffice

with anyone less


my Lord

what i know is insignificant to what i do not

this is the best i have


this is how i feel You have washed me away

i planned none of this

wave upon wave of al-thaqalayn

has battered me

and asked me to consider it all

from beginning to end

the whole cosmos

my place in it

the reason we are

and where we hope to be

so that when ‘Allamah says

everything in itself is no more than a tale and a dream”

i feel my heart let go

my entire story

the last 38 years and whatever remains

as my essence gently settles

upon the soft petals of roses

upon them all blessings and peace!

rising upon a Divine wind

carrying me home to You


When they tell you your life is naught but breath in the passing wind

That your history holds no beauty—show them from your end, you begin

Tell them your soil cradles seeds that when planted in blackened hearts

Are embraced by the sun’s touch, and at once from them darkness departs

That budded mouths that seem muted, blossom with sweet melodies

And hum heartbreaking tunes of a trampled garden’s tragedies

Tunes of beautiful flowers that once lived, looked on all with soft eyes

Gentle lions that in death are immortal, souls to heaven, they rise

But upon passing, broken petals have left a trail, a fluttering scent

Of minds empowered by love, of hearts that to the brim are content

There are gardens, but few roses, and the few that are found

Were long ago buried, abused, crushed deep into the ground

But called true Roses for having rose, risen after every demise

Lost everything but their God, so everything did they find

“Frangrance of the Found” by Aqeela Naqvi


“The message of Shi’ism to the world can be summarized in one sentence: ‘To know God.’ Or in other words, it is to instruct man to follow the path of Divine realization and the knowledge of God in order to gain felicity and salvation. And this message is contained in the very phrase with which the Holy Prophet commenced his prophetic mission when he said: “Oh men! Know God in His Oneness (and acknowledge Him) so that you will gain salvation.”

As a summary explanation of this message we will add that man is attached by nature to many goals in this worldly life and to material pleasures. He loves tasty food and drink, fashionable dress, attractive palaces and surroundings, a beautiful and pleasing wife, sincere friends and great wealth. And in another direction, he is attracted to political power, position, reputation, the extension of his rule and dominion and the destruction of anything that is opposed to his wishes. But in his inner and primordial God-given nature, man understands that all these are means created for man, but man is not created for all these things. These things should be subservient to man and follow him and not vice versa. To consider the stomach and the region below it as a final end of life is the logic of cattle and sheep. To tear-up, cut and destroy others is the logic of the tiger, the wolf and the fox. The logic inherent in human existence is the attainment of wisdom and nothing else.

This logic based upon wisdom with the power which it possesses to discern between reality and the unreal. It guides us toward the truth and not toward things our emotions demand or toward passions, selfishness and egoism. This logic considers man as a part of the totality of creation without any separate independence or the possibility of a rebellious self-centeredness. In contrast to the current belief that man is the master of creation and tames rebellious nature and conquers it to force it to obey his wishes and desires, we find that in reality man himself is an instrument in the hand of Universal Nature and is ruled and commanded by it.

This logic based upon wisdom invites man to concentrate more closely upon the apprehension he has of the existence of this world until it becomes clear to him that the world of existence and all that is in it does not issue from itself but rather from an Infinite Source. He will then know that all this beauty and ugliness, all these creatures of the earth and the heavens, which appear outwardly as independent realities, gain reality only through another Reality and are manifested only in Its Light, and not by themselves and through themselves. In the same way that the “realities” as well as the power and grandeur of yesterday have no greater value than tales and legends of today, so are the “realities” of today no more than vaguely remembered dreams in relation to what will appear as “reality” tomorrow.

In the last analysis, everything in itself is no more than a tale and a dream. Only God is Reality in the absolute sense, the One Who does not perish. Under the protection of His Being, everything gains existence and becomes manifested through the Light of His Essence.

If man becomes endowed with such vision and power of apprehension, then the tent of his separative existence will fall down before his eyes like a bubble on the surface of water. He will see with his eyes that the world and all that is in it depend upon an Infinite Being who possesses life, power, knowledge and every perfection to an infinite degree. Man and every other being in the world are like so many windows that display according to their capacity the world of eternity which transcends them and lies beyond them.

It is at this moment that man takes from himself and all creatures the quality of independence and primacy and returns these qualities to their Owner. He detaches himself from all things to attach himself solely to the One God. Before His Majesty and Grandeur he does nothing but bow in humility. Only then does he become guided and directed by God so that whatever he knows he knows in God. Through Divine guidance he becomes adorned with moral and spiritual virtue and pure actions that are the same as Islam itself, the submission to God, the religion that is in the primordial nature of things.

This is the highest degree of human perfection and the rank of the perfect man (the Universal Man; al-Insan al-kamel), namely the impeccable Imam who has reached this rank through Divine grace. Furthermore, those who have reached this rank through the practice of spiritual methods, with the different ranks and stations that they possess, are the true followers of the Imam. It becomes thus clear that the knowledge of God and of the Imam are inseparable in the same way that the knowledge of God is inextricably connected to the knowledge of oneself.

For he who knows his own symbolic existence has already come to know the true existence that belongs solely to God who is independent and without need of anything whatsoever.

“Shi’ite Islam” by ‘Allamah Tabataba’i, pp. 195-6

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