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Archive for the ‘Layla’ Category

after all is said and done

after 20 years of effort and choices

the plain truth is

i have been given that which is uncountable

and so what i have done

is insignificant

as an expression of true gratitude

and what i should not have done

means i owe even more thanks

for the forgiveness without which i am lost

so whichever way i turn

there is the Generous starting back at me

and all i can do is bow down

offer inadequate praise

and submit

to the Lord of ‘Ali

اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد

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a life in preparation

to take one sip

from 14 oceans

 

drunk on God

soul struggling to be freed from body

willing to trade life away

 

drink again

and again

and again

 

each satiation

follows into a new thirst

which is again satiated

 

from 14 oceans

upon whose shores i wander

unable to fathom

the depths of what they contain

 

“Truly, the Prophet (S) cannot be described, and how could a servant be described whom God, the Almighty and the Glorious, has concealed with seven veils and made obedience to him in the earth like obedience to God in the heavens, declaring, ‘And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbids, abstain from it.’ And ‘Whoever obeys him assuredly obeys Me, and whoever disobeys him disobeys Me.’ Hence, God has delegated authority to him. And we cannot be described…” -Imām al-Bāqir عليه السلام

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One of the first religious texts that helped me express my longing for God was the song “Saranagati” by the band Shelter, released in 1992. I read the lyrics recently to one of my friends whose body is failing due to ALS, and it made me think that it might be beneficial to share with the wider world:

 

people in this world try to claim they possess

land and sky and water, but they try to forget

that everything that they build and everything that they kill

was handed to them by Your free will

 

second hand gods, that’s all we are

not creating, manipulating, and leaving the scars

robbing from the earth and stealing from the trees

not out of need but greed and false prestige

 

but it’s all yours, what can we own

not family, property, it’s all on loan

but our miserly minds of “I”, “ME”, and “MINE”

fight in wars for what’s not ours so here’s my plea for

 

saranagati, surrender

 

i’m trying to understand you’re the Supreme Friend

You’re beside me and You guide me like no one else can

help me see You in everything and everything in You

when will I appreciate all that You do

 

even pain in this world is to help us see

the reality of material misery

please help me transcend, i want it to end

happiness apart from You, I can just pretend

 

and ’cause You’re so kind, You give us a mind

to choose to love You or leave you behind

forgetting reality, we create this duality

i’m sick of this fallacy

 

saranagati, surrender

 

You’re the roots of creation and we’re just some leaves

by fufilling Your desire, we find our relief

enjoyment apart from You creates just more grief

these leaves become dry, we cry, and drop with the breeze

 

i’ve tried to gratify my senses, but what have I gained

this so-called pleasure is just a cessation of pain

fooled myself with love, again and again

attracted by romance and smashed in the end

 

surrounded by people, but left all alone

and even amongst friends, i felt far from home

we’re one with each other, but You’re different from me

Like a drop from the sea, if we want to be free

 

saranagati, surrender

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my Lord

there are things i want to tell the world

but they are secrets between You and i

buried within the pages of my life

weaved into the fabric of my self

but You are closer than my jugular

which if cut

would spill what i am

pouring out for all to see

and so i keep it close

protected

but You are closer

so this is nothing but a love letter to You

to say

that even though at times it has hurt so much

i am happy that i have made it this far

arriving at a place

where i have somehow unwound

some knots within

by a tawfīq that comes

from none but You

and i am becoming more

of what You want me to be

even though i have lost some

of who i thought i was

because i will change for You

i may be slow in process

i may be stubborn to start

but i can change

as long as i live

even when i am old and grey

let me always be ready

to change for You

so that what is taken away from me

of what i love so dearly

becomes an empty space in my heart

to be filled by that which You love most

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Generosity

i affirm that You are the source of everything

One

Unique

Singular

الصمد

You have always been as You always were

and will always be

Manifest and Hidden

Outward and Inward

الظاهر الباطن

Unfolder of time and space

Giver of bodies

Breather of spirits

الخالق البارئ المصور

this realm is supported by You alone

these words manifest with Your decree

and i am accountable

الغفور الغفار الرحمان الرحيم

You gave me these hands

You gave me these eyes

You gave me this computer

You gave me this floor

You gave me this desk

You gave me this security

You gave me this health

You gave me this reality

i can never pay you back

“The most thankful of Your servants has not the capacity to thank You”

الكريم الوهاب النافع الهادي الباسط

my good deeds add nothing to Your Perfection

and my bad deeds stain no one but me

i seek refuge in Your Eternal Generosity

by which all that i have ever known is

and by which i am

and through which i will live again

after a period where the world goes on without me

just as it went on for so long before i was born

as You have promised

so may Your Beginningless Endless Blessings and Peace

be upon Muhammad and his family

يا أرحم الراحمين

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moments in Infinity

no matter how many times i talk to You

it is never enough

there is no limit to our relationship

it is forever

truth is

i am not talking to You

for there is nothing You do not know

rather

i am slowly melting away

as the You that sustains me

at every moment

becomes more real in my perception

You did not create this is vain

this moment

this body

this place

and the vast expanse that shoots out in every direction from here

for billions of miles

Subhan Allah

how can i understand You when I barely understand the tiny speck that is this moment that You create

Subhan Allah

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Perhaps someone somewhere has explained this better than I can, but I wanted to share what I consider to be the supreme profundity of our simple dhikr: Subhan Allah Alhamdulillah La ilaha ill Allah Allahu akbar.

 

سبحان الله – Subhan Allah

Subhan Allah means that nothing is like Allah. Anything you see, hear, smell, taste, feel is different from Allah. Allah is transcendent above all of our embodied experience.

الحمد لله – Alhamdulillah

Alhamdulillah, on the other hand, is related to everything. Anything that you can conceptualize is from Allah, and thus all praise for everything in all existence belongs to Allah. There is no wanting something that is not, in the final analysis, wanting Allah, for that which is praiseworthy in that thing could not be there without Allah. Thus, Subhan Allah and Alhamdulillah are two sides of the same coin.

لا إله إلا الله – La ilaha ill Allah

If Subhan Allah was metaphorically like pushing Allah away from everything you can conceptualize, and Alhamdulillah was like bringing Allah as close as possible to everything, then La ilaha ill Allah is the stripping away of that distinction. Is there conceptualization without the Knower of everything sharing a drop of knowledge? Is there an existent world without the Living sharing a drop of life? Is there something to experience, and an experiencer to experience it, that is ever, for even a single moment, independent of Allah?

الله أكبر – Allahu akbar

Subhan Allah was based on the plain understanding that Allah is unlike the creation. Alhamdulillah flipped that observation on its head, and made the creation reveal the Creator at every moment. La ilaha ill Allah erased the distinction entirely. Allahu akbar brings us back into a relationship, where beyond every horizon there is something greater. Where the furthest limits of our imagination cannot reach. For no matter what I say, or do, or experience, or think, or imagine, or want…Allah is always greater than that.

So the next time you repeat these four phrases, try to remember that this simple dhikr is an expression of all that ever was, is, or will be.

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