Waking Up

I wrote this piece to motivate my children to rise before dawn. They helped me with the first two stanzas. An angel whispers something sweet, I think it is my name, I feel a hand upon my feet And wonder what became Of angel words, for there I see Before my sleepy eyes My mother smiling down at me, A smile to make me rise. But when she leaves, I tuck my chin Into my knees, upon My bed that feels so cozy in The early light of dawn. And now another whisper takes Me back to yesterday, To wonder why the heart awakes Around this time to pray. I open wide my eyes and think Of all the peace I felt, Exchanging sleep’s delicious drink For thoughts of when I knelt. And all this thinking makes me long To feel that love divine, I stagger through this wake-up song To make ablution fine: The water on my hands and face, The drops upon my head, Around my feet they stream and race Till all of sleep has fled. Responding to the morning call, I stand prepared to pray, Then raise my hands and push it all Behind me as I say Allahu Akbar.

Still In My Way

The less of you that stands between Your Lord and what you pray, The more expanse of fertile green; For every word you say Shall root itself in timeless soil That timeless waters flush, For all remembrance comes with toil That tends your garden lush; Your wretched self need step aside And let your heart reflect The Light that ever shines to guide The lost it may detect. That all the words of praise that share Your tear-moistened lips, Sprout trees of wonder foliage where The dew of nectar drips. And when the angels span your spread One thousand years or more, They’ll marvel at the words you said That such a wonder bore, Then rush to splash as waves of light Upon your heart intent, Inspiring your inward sight With some of what you sent; And thus the intellect of those Who went before was blest, For from their nothingness arose A movement in their breast, To soar up high on angel wings And flourish in the land; It comes with what remembrance brings With its prophetic brand. The less of you that stands between Your Lord and what you pray, The more expanse of fertile green For every word you say. But I’m still in my way. Inspired by what I heard at a recent reading from Mishkaat Al-Masabih by Shaykh Amin.


The Prophet kept an even eye On Amr, son of Abdi Wud Who shouted out with every cry, A word insulting, harsh and rude. For Amr was a massive man Who towered well above the rest, A man of war with scars that ran Across his bold, embattled chest. Beyond the wide, forbidding trench, Stood Yathrib’s best, but even they Perceived the words of Amr wrench A bit of their resolve away; But when the challenge to a duel Rang in the still and silent air, Ali advanced with manner cool, And sought the Prophet’s leave to dare. The Prophet swiftly turned it down When he said, “This is Amr”, and Ali withdrew without a frown While Amr’s mount swept up the sand. “Is there no man a match for me?” He boomed across the great divide, While those he had for company Rejoiced in laughter at his side. Ali advanced again to ask The Prophet to allow him fight The giant Amr, but a mask Of declination met his sight. And so Quraysh persisted in Their condescending ridicule, Insulting who were once their kin For failing to accept a duel, Upon which Ali, somber, grim, Again approached the Prophet who, Saw, when he turned to look at him, Deep in his eye, a sight he knew. The Prophet’s face grew soft with care, He gave Ali the leave he sought, And made his dear cousin wear The blessed turban, then he brought His double-bladed Zulfiqar, And girding it ’round […]