“Say it!” the angel Gabriel commanded Muhammad, who had been chosen to channel the message of Allah to mankind. “Write it,” the angel might have said, because the words the prophet recited became a book, the Koran. And in the hands of artists over the centuries that book became a devotional object of surpassing beauty.
July 25, 2012
I wrote this last year right after the Khatim of Tarawih, the last night of Ramazan.
We’ve come a year from then, and have had another great momentous day to add on to the ‘moments’ written of. Last year, Grandfather and Grandmother had their days of pride on their grandson Hafiz Yahyas graduation day, as well as their 2 eldest grandsons Qais & Ibrahims, University & Law school graduation days, where their tears showed the extent of their happiness. This year, I was able to see my Uncle’s and Grandfather’s dream come true with the opening of our new Masjid. Their faces glowing and alight, they showed me around the entirety of the place. I really took the time to reflect on the barakah and depth of such days. We need to be grateful for these days. Year after year, it seems to only get better and more fruitful. May we always see such light upon us, amin.
OH & to add to the rest, Grandfather’s dream of becoming an official American, came true today, 7.25.2012. Hes so happy! Haha, hes something else. My 2 Grandfathers, 2 different beautiful sides to 1 coin. 😉 I love them beyond understanding. They treat(ed) my Grandmothers like the Queens they are, and they’re living to see the fruit of their grandchildren’s successes. Alhamdulillah.
November 12, 2011
You have no idea how hard I’ve looked
for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to
the gold mine, or water to the ocean.
Everything I came up with was like
taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my
soul because you already have these.
So I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.
August 27, 2011
In these moments we find our entire lives,
In these moments we see the veils rise up,
We start to see the Truth, the Haqq, behind our every breath,
Our very motions, thoughts, and desires are awoken.
Who we live for, what we live for, why we live,
Are all defined within the immediacy of these moments.
Which moments are these?
The ones where we learn what love is when we see the Light shining forth from our Grandfather’s eyes as he bask’s in the happiness of his grandchildren as they run around him.
The ones where the comforts of our family homes encompass the security & safety of our heart’s daily worries and stresses.
The ones where the aroma of Grandmother’s cooking overtakes our senses and lets us relish in the life long memories of her food, no matter childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. Through just that aroma.
The ones where the never-ending screaming, running and laughing of the children completely go without discomfort due to the familiarity of its presence.
The ones where the late-night chants for pizza and sleepovers go heeded and unheeded, time and time again.
The ones where Ahmedy’s Rock & Rolling, and Amina’s jibber jabber all entice the rest of us to ponder upon their enchanting young characters. 😛
The ones where the thermoses of tea never end for our Mothers, and the Fathers dining room conference table never sees a day without some calendar plans for FL, Carib getaways, summer weekend vacations, or just next week’s memani.
And proudly, now, the ones where the black of the girl’s cloaks, and the whites of the boy’s thobes, mix and mesh night after night for a month long, standing and prostrating under Sayed Yahya’s beautiful deep recitation..
Where the prayers of the youth are embraced by their Mother’s and Grandmother’s greater dua for them. Where the efforts of the youth are pushed to their highest by the barakah of their Father’s and Grandfather’s prayers of nobility.
Which moments are these?
The ones where we see the true face of happiness as the thundering laughter of children rings out above all the other noise of the world, and we finally understand, this is what we live for.
The ones where the understanding between young, old, and middle aged come to a beautiful serenity through the exchange of a deep sense of communication, that which might not need words at certain times.
The ones in which the elderly are living their lives time and time again through the beauty of their young surrounding them with love and compassion. The ones in which the youth learn to sit still in complete awe of those who are trying to guide them through their pearls of wisdom and experience. The moments in which old and young alike learn the power of love just by looking into one anothers souls through the light shining forth from one another’s eyes.
What living is this, what life is this, that the Most Merciful has blessed us with? Where we see the circle of living and loving within our every breath, within our every day, within our every week’s end. It is something that purely amazes me, to the point that I sit and contemplate, what did we do… what did I do.. to deserve such bountiful love.
To see the Love of the Divine manifest in His creation, in pure form, is not easy in this world of chaos and confusion.
So to truly see that love come to life, through the plethora of family, is like witnessing heaven on earth. The pleasures of the Garden are infinite, so too, the pleasures of this love, of this eternal compassion stemming forth from the eyes of our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, is infinite.
God says “Neither My heaven nor My earth embraces me, but the heart of My believing servant does embrace Me.”
Do you take heed? Do you understand? Do you truly see? For if you do, then give your thanks, give your time, give your life to those who have given you so much already.
Thankfulness is an attribute to be understood, in good times and bad. It is this thankfulness that will take your soul to the skies after your body has left this earth. It is this thankfulness that your Creator will measure when He calculates the blessings and tribulations you have been given. For every tribulation is a blessing in disguise, never forget this. Even His shahr is His khayr. Even above sabr comes shukr. Above the patience in times of trial, comes gratitude. Once we understand this, we will have understood a few drops of His mercy.
April 23, 2011
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,
Oh mother of my mother, there was no one who I could have loved more, than you…
The crowds have amassed in the thousands, in prayers, in remembrance, and in reflection of your holistic beauty,
May you be given the joys, pleasures and brilliance of the Akhiraat,
for which you have worked so long and hard for. May you be relieved, finally relieved.
November 16, 2010
May 23, 2010
November 7, 2009
I trust that I will Trust.
I trust that Trust will save me.
I trust that Trust will save us.
He will save us. I know.
There are no thoughts any longer… no more process, no more reaction;
Just knowing. Stop thinking and you will know. Stop listening to all else, and you shall hear the beautiful silence.
That silence, tells us, all we need to know. It tells us, Trust.
~ When your heart’s on fire, and your head is deep in the water, hearing and seeing nothing, lost in the call of the One, Most Powerful, Most Merciful.. keep to yourself and understand the beauty occuring within and without. Keep the flames burning by turning them to light, for otherwise, they will only die into ashes.
October 29, 2008
LOOKING For Your Face
From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it.
Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for.
Today I have found you
and those that laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did.
I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.
My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold.
I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine.
Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow.
My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you
has lit a fire in my heart
and you have made radiant
the earth and sky.
My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer.
Divani Shamsi Tarbrizi,
from “Magnificent One”,
by Nevit Orguz Ergin
~ What is this… what is this…what is this new feeling? One whose scent has always been blowing my way, but it never fully arrived, and it seems its truly on its way now! This burning, this burning, it burns, it truly does. Let’s seperate the light of the burning fire from the darkness, lets look at it for what it really is. Is it meant to be? Let’s wait and see, wait patiently for its arrival. Everyone is waiting to see its beautiful face! ~
The winds of winter may be blowing in, but the waves of summer still sway within me…
The maturity of autumn maybe attractive, but the purity of Spring has its own beauty.
That purity is where love & in love mesh together, leaving no room for thoughts.
October 11, 2008
The art of the book and the art of writing are the subjects of paired exhibitions at Asia Society, “Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, Circa 1600-1900” and “Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an.” Perfect in size and proportion, carefully thought out and gorgeous, they are worthy of the book they honor.
Gorgeous is important. Precious jewels should be superbly cut and set. Many would say that the word of God is the most precious jewel of all. “Traces of the Calligrapher” is about how that word was packaged for earthly consumption. Basically, the show is a manual of fine handwriting and luxury bookmaking, illustrated by superb examples of tools of the trade and finished products.
No tool was more essential than the ink pen. From the time the first Korans were written in the seventh century, a traditional kind of pen was preferred, one made of a plain, dried, hollow reed, cut at the end to form a nib. Yet when it came to the holy book, nothing was ever really plain. Every aspect of its production took on symbolic weight.
The pen was an emblem for the creation of the cosmos, when primal matter issued forth from God like ink on a page. Its use had ethical implications. The skill with which a calligrapher trimmed the nib — ideally with a single, deft knife stroke — was assumed to say everything about his force of character.
Calligraphers were not regarded as ordinary artisans. They were members of a subculture with its own set of aesthetic codes and foundation myths and often with strong connections to Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam still too little understood in the West.
Exalted as it was, the pen came with sumptuous accoutrements. Knives used to trim it were fitted with ivory, agate or coral handles. Small flat objects, called maktas, originally bits of stone on which the pen rested when cut, were transformed into miniature sculptures of walrus tusk and gold.
Parchment was used for early Korans. Then paper became common and inspired yet another line of ornate and ingenious instruments, evident in the show.
Scissors from 18th-century Iran fold into a sleek, compact dart shape, rounded at the top and pierced with pinpoint fine openwork patterns. The finger holes of a large pair of scissors made in Ottoman Turkey form calligraphic characters that spell out one of the names of God. With every slice, the idea is, you say a prayer.
Over time, an entire industry of calligraphic accessories flourished, from pen-cases and ink wells inlaid with tortoise shell, ebony and mother-of-pearl to an Ikea’s worth of specialized furniture, including calligrapher’s tables as ornate as altars.
Most sensuous of all were book covers of tooled and gilded leather, or painted and lacquered pasteboard. Many Koran covers had abstract decorations, but on one Iranian example roses and tulips palpitate against a hot-red ground as if drawing vitality from the writing they enclosed and protected.
Writing — the written word — was the essential thing. If “Traces of the Calligrapher,” organized by Mary McWilliams and David J. Roxburgh of Harvard University, is primarily an ensemble of the instruments that produced it, the show also evokes calligraphy as a physical act.
A film of the American-born master calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya at work is a mesmerizing part of the show. So are the wall texts that describe stages of calligraphic training. Hands-on study entails the preparation of materials and the mastery of pen techniques.
But it begins with a prolonged contemplation of existing calligraphy, a total immersion in the written word, which means keeping it in front of your eye, living with it, absorbing its particular pulses and energies before attempting to send your own version out into the world.
The second and smaller of the two shows, “Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an,” affords something like this experience. It is a deep-end dive into writing and its history.
Two parchment sheets, their edges nibbled away by time, date to the seventh century, when Islam was new. The words that crowd every inch of surface might even have been copied during the prophet’s lifetime. At that early date, though, the word of Allah was customarily presented as Muhammad had presented it: orally. The manuscript at Asia Society was probably a kind of prompt-book for recitations.
But very quickly, copies of the Koran became primary objects, esteemed for their beauty as well as their content. Stretched-out Arabic letters on a single surviving page from an eighth century Koran have the stop-start rhythms of a music score. And on a page from a different copy the same script appears in gold on a rich midnight-blue ground.
Expressive new script styles developed: Eastern Kufic with characters tall, thin and slightly flexed like blades of grass in a field; Maghribi from North Africa, with its flourishes of downward lines, like roots reaching into desert subsoil.
Ornament entered the picture: red and green accent marks; verse markers in the form of fat gold knots; and in a 15th- or 16th-century page, a teardrop-shaped medallion, ripe and showy, floating in the margin. And the later books bring us back around to secular examples of calligraphy in the first show.
In an early 17th-century composition, the strokes forming the letters of a poem about a celestial garden are filled with tiny birds and flowers. An imperial degree ordering that generous wages be paid to an artist is topped by what looks like a Christmas tree.
And a third sheet refers to just such an artist in the making. It is a calligraphy student’s graduation certificate, with writing in different sizes and scripts, by the student himself. His work looks more than confident; his teachers have signed off on it; clearly, he is ready to start a career.
Just for luck, though, he adds a prayer: “O Lord, make things easy and do not make them difficult. Make everything come out well.”
October 10, 2008
I try to shut my eyes to the deafening roar of the world
The drops delicately flowing down the surface of my cheek,
the waters flowing in and out of me, desperately
In attempts to purify, rejuvenate, intoxicate…
the harder they fall down my face, the clearer my eye sight becomes,
the more intensified my cries become, the brighter the light becomes,
burning my eyes, my heart tossing and turning, in complete drunkeness, in utter wild commotion, whispering in hushed voices, where have I come?
Where has your Love brought me?
Here and there, I search, rushing to and fro, where are you oh Love?
Have I sought You long enough…have I loved You strongly enough…
have I beheld You in my heart,
through my eyes, my ears, through my flesh & bones, has it been enough?
Kala! No, never! It’s never enough!
Keep seeking, keep coming, keep drinking!
The ocean of wine will never dry out, the seas of Love will never lose their taste,
don’t you know… yak chakre en daryaii Muhabbat az ashqe Mothaar meftah…
don’t you see…
It will never be enough.
Never cease asking!
I say, I didn’t hesitate to ask before,
and with what pearls and rubies, emeralds and opals I was rewarded with.
What didn’t I receive…
Mercy in its greatness cannot be perceived, mercy in its detail cannot be counted.
I asked, and from a most generous drop of that beneficent, benevolent ocean I received.
Now, that I sit and contemplate my bejewelment,
I sense the scent of dishonesty luring its way through the thief.
Who is coming to take my jewels, my wine cups, my treasures…
Where to run and hide, where to protect myself from the harsh winds of the bold,
lieing winter sun.
Flee! Flee! For otherwise, your treasures will be taken and only a trace,
a scent of all that once was will be left.
No, I refuse, I will stand still, and I will fight my enemy face to face,
Hit me with blows! thousands of times over! Hazaar ba hazaar dafah,
You will not see me flinch.
I am stone with skin as hard as the oyster shell,
and treasures more beautiful than any pearls you can imagine.
Whose to say I will open for the enemy,
revealing my inner most secrets to mere illusions, never!
Take your blows, then leave me be, I may be battered, but I will not crack, I may be stricken but I shall refuse to weaken! Afterall…what is skin and bones, flesh and nerve, if not protection for the deepest locked treasure.
They are meant to be blown at, meant to be torn, but as long as the Light pulses from within, as long as Love screams in delight from the depths of my soul, I will never leave that which I came in search of!
Behold! The strength of the Lover! The intensity of intoxication! The brilliant radiance of the Light!