December

There’s a wind that bites on the coldest nights In the frozen lap of December, And it leaves its marks of depressing truth Everywhere that it blows. Remember All the lonesome old, and the suffering youth And the desperate cries of a mother As she scrapes what once had graced her womb From the street in the wake of another Downpour of fire; every home’s a tomb With its epitaph on the faces Of the drenched who dried everything they had In the rain, of all the places. As a village dines on a morsel, glad For the fact that their meal was bigger, Don’t forget blood spilled, all of it unwilled By that tot enticed by a trigger. But we all rejoice for the time we killed In our hot pursuit of pleasure, Just don’t be ashamed of the tears you shed They might be our only treasure. (Take it down just a notch for the dead.) There’s a wind that bites on the coldest nights In the frozen lap of December, And it leaves its marks of depressing truth Everywhere that it blows. Remember. Happy New Year!

Mall Blues

I stole this candid shot of my son at the mall. I don’t know why I’m here at the mall, It’s so painful, but I’m biding my time While my sisters, and my mother of all Are deliberating some fashion crime. Dad reminds me I’ll get used to the wait, But I know I need a miracle prayer That, until I learn to welcome my fate, Can dissolve all of this time in the air.

If I Were Time

If I were time and had my way, I’d go back to that wondrous day, When Yousha and his army won, And then I’d wish I were the sun. And as the sun, I’d rise and shine Upon the folk of Palestine, Where Isa made the blind to see, And then his blessed breath I’d be, To gust with winds and blow around Until I reach that battleground And let upon AlBadr rain, Longing to be a man again.

Of Tears And Rain

A year had passed, but not a drop Of rain had fallen down upon The land of Makkah, and its crop Did suffer. And its men were drawn Toward their kind and noble chief, Abu Talib, the Hashimi, Whose charge it was to bring relief To his ailing community. He sat upon the dusty ground, And listened till their tales were done, Then gathered all the children ’round; And when he saw his brother’s son, Abu Talib let out a cry Of pure, uninhibited joy, To see the apple of his eye: Abdullah’s one and only boy. He held the child close to his breast Then stood him ‘gainst the Kaaba wall And gently proffered his request To pray to God for rain to fall. Muhammad raised his handsome face And as he closed his blessed eyes, He supplicated God with grace, His heart beyond the cloudless skies. Then in that moment, Mikail Released the long-withheld decree, And angel crowds rushed down to feel The light of higher company. A drop upon Muhammad’s cheek, Then silence, as the heavens turned, To rain upon a people weak The mercy that their son had earned. And thus the much awaited rains Revived the Makkan hearts and crop. I’d equal all the rains with tears For something of that foremost drop.

The Qasida of Imam Zainul ‘Aabideen

  The first stanza of this translation is adapted from Yusuf Islam’s rendition as heard in his album, Footsteps in the Light.   If you, O winds, happen some day Upon that garden, sacred, blest, Then must you my salaam convey To where the blessed Prophet rests. Whose splendid face the midday sun, The full white moon his blessed cheeks, An ocean wide of gen’rous love, A light to every eye that seeks, Who bore the mighty word from high That shattered all that was before, And stood alone to clarify The Truth that no one can ignore. This separation pains me so: A dagger pressed into my side; How fortunate are those who by That patch of paradise abide. O Mercy to the worlds who shall For all his fallen intercede, Include us in your plea that day When bare is laid our every deed. O Mercy to the worlds, I hope You find me, Zain-Al’aabideen, I stand alone amongst the crowds Of tyrants, longing to be seen. Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad

The Man From Nineveh

Inside the belly of a whale, Within the belly of the sea, Is where the man from Nineveh, Eventually came to be. And now, recovered from his shock, He lay against the dismal grime, And thought about his Ninenveh For what might be the final time. There, with his keen prophetic eye, He plumbed the depths of honest thought, Of what upon poor Nineveh, His gross abandonment had brought. And in a moment of such depth, The Truth descended on the heart Of our good man from Nineveh. Who sat up with a sudden start; He’d left his people in the dark, And here he was in darkness cold, But Nineveh, his Nineveh, Ought not to feel this loss untold. He’d set without his Lord’s command, Upon a quest for solitude (Away from needy Nineveh), And now with such was he imbued. His fears turned to love, he wept, Beseeched his Lord with moistened eyes. O Yunus, best of Nineveh, Upon you peace the day you rise.

A Lullaby

I modified this older work and converted it into couplets, each comprising a tetrameter followed by a heptameter. I think it reads better now. Oh, go to sleep, AbdurRahmaan, The stars are out, the sun is gone until another dawn, When a splash of gold on angel wings Shall wash you in the warmth it brings as its companion sings A song upon your dew drop face, Your petal palms and sweet embrace; our fingers interlace. And then my worries melt away Like snow that sees a balmy day, when we peacefully lay Upon the grass so soft and still, Beneath a leafy bough until a garden on a hill Is where we find ourselves with glee- Ful sweet familiarity with our destiny. So, go to sleep, AbdurRahmaan, The stars are out, the sun is gone until another dawn.

Ya Sayyidee, Don’t Turn Away

Inspired by the khatm du’aa of Shaykh Mohammed Amin last Ramadan. Ya Sayyidee, don’t turn away, Don’t turn away from me; I’ve waited long this endless day For just a glimpse to see. I know my sinful eyes have brought Upon my heart disgrace, But know they have forever sought The brilliance of your face. My ears are filled with empty chat And words of lesser choice, And now they crave the pleasure that Accompanies your voice. My tongue and lips, I fear, have cursed My self and left me dry; I beg your leave to slake my thirst Beside your fountain high. Ya Sayyidee, don’t turn away, Don’t turn away from me; By Him, the Master of this day, I love you, my Nabi.

The Slave From Abyssinia

Consumed completely by a word He managed through his many pains In spite of which was only heard That word, now coursing through his veins: “Ahad! Ahad!”, was all he said, Enduring at Umayyah’s hands For every chilling night with dread, A day upon the burning sands. Yet not one mite did he relent To rocks that pinned his body down, Or lashes that were freely spent To bit by bit his spirit drown. “Ahad! Ahad!”, was all he said, And when he couldn’t breathe the word, He raised his finger up instead; Then doubled was the wrath incurred. When Abu Bakr heard about Umayyah’s rabid mania, He quickly set to helping out The slave from Abyssinia. Umayyah turned him down at first, But as he saw the ransom grow, His greed outweighed his mindless thirst To break his slave; he let him go. And so secured the mighty sum Bilal bin Rabah’s safe release; With every drought Umayyah come The rains of Abu Bakr ease. If the drought were to defeat you, Know: your rains await to greet you.

The Congregation

At least one hundred thousand men, all standing side by side, Had gathered in Jerusalem, within that hallowed space, Behind the man who came to them on his celestial ride, To lead a congregation so unmatchable in grace. A timeless prayer by timeless folk compels a timeless night Transcending spatiality that so frustrates the mind: And thus this brotherhood had filled that night with so much light, That all the heavens and that tiny shred of earth combined To call for Peace and blessings on Aadam, Idris, and Nuh, Hud, Saleh, Lut, Ibrahim, Isma’eel, and Ishaaq too, Shu’ayb, Musa, Haroon, Yousha, Dawood and Sulaymaan, On Zakariyya, Yahya, and the children of Imraan: Yes, Peace and blessings be upon Isa, good Maryam’s son, And on the others in between, on each and every one, All standing silently in rows behind their new Imaam, Muhammad closed the circle which with Aadam had begun. Oh what a night, that timeless night, in sweet Jerusalem, Where all the very best of men had met the best of them; Oh what a night, that timeless night, outside Umm Hani’s place, Where man and angel and their steed abandoned time and space. Allahumma Salli ‘ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa baarik wa sallim.