Holistic Poetry

In Between Ramadan and Eid

With the end of Ramadan comes a bittersweet moment when tasted in the company of a patchwork of communities stitched together to celebrate Eid. Each contemplation piece I have posted is a reminder of the valuable lessons that I have come to know during this blessed month. Each iftar that has led to the day of Eid served not just food or drink to break the fast but provided an opportunity to call a stranger a friend, to meet friends as brothers and sisters, and to recognize the One that made it all possible. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

“Be in this life as if you were a stranger or traveler on a path. If you reach the evening then do not expect to reach the morning, and if you reach the morning then do not expect to reach the evening. Take from your health before your sickness and from your life before your death” (Sahih Bukhari).

Since the day I chose to journey outside the comfort of my home to places around the world to make real the vision of my career, I have been gifted by God with the company of those that remind me of Him. In every Ramadan since my university days, these new additions to my extended family became apart of blessings that I couldn’t help but keep count of in both mind and heart.  They were the phone calls before dawn to make sure I started my fast on time. They were the shoulder to lean on when nights grew heavy on the mind. They were the hugs that embraced the best our worlds had to offer. They were the controllable laughter at the face of what was uncontrollable. They were the lending hand that served more than the kindness in every shared cup of tea. They were and still are the mirror to moments of strength and weakness that span as long as their example serves. Whether they reside in my past, present, or future, know that they will always reside in my duas. May we meet again at a time and place much better than we part ways, insha’Allah. Eid Mubarak :-)

30 Days of Ramadan

Originally posted on Holistic Poetry:

Within 30 days, we starve to purify our state
During 30 days, we break to eat many dates
For 30 days, we pray together on sacred rugs
After 30 days, we embrace strangers with 3 hugs
In these 30 days, we choose what God picks
30 days later, we greet all with “Eid Mubarik!”

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Principles

Once upon a time ago
Call me, maybe 5 years old
I just wasn’t that cool
So I figured I’d just go to school

Sitting in my little chair,
Feet dancing in the air
Staring at the teacher there
Sharing views without a care

“Okay class, attention please
Today, we speak of honesty
When you hear it honestly
Applaud that choice unconsciously!”

“Teacher, teacher, I got a question
I’m not really sure what you’re testing
Something’s missing in this lesson
There’s a deeper issue present”

“Why elevate those that speak honestly?
Why clap our hands to a standard that we all should truly be?
If the truth decided to work from 9-5
Then everything between would be moments we live lies”

Jaws dropped, the teacher stopped, he didn’t know how to respond
He decided not to hear me out and pushed to move on
My hands were still raised, and I wasn’t trying to be satirical
But I just pointed to the door and sent him to the principles of

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Principles you cash in

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Ideals forever lasting

After a decade or two
I fell in love with the world, I called her “my boo”
Any wrong she’d ever do
Man, I just thought it was too damn cute

From sunny days to starry nights
Highs and lows, yeah we still fight
But in the end, she’s always right
Until she gave me some insight

“We are not forever
And we are not together
Without me, you will never
Live a life any better”

My heart broken, air chokin’
Couldn’t believe the words spoken
But I didn’t budge and I hold no grudge
I just chose to share these words of love

“20 something years passed
Who needs swag if I’m in class
Graded by the One that lasts
Earning gold stars on His path”

“Moving past the past days
Treat each day like it’s my last day
And if you think it sounds cray
They said the same when Prophets pray”

My tears dried, the world cried, I chose to live this life of mine
If I never heard the truth how could I speak of the Divine?
I forgave her harsh words, no matter how critical
So I embraced the world into my arms so she could see the principles of

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Principles you cash in

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Ideals forever lasting

They say that money is time
So I guess I lived more than a pair of dimes
Shifting my paradigm
Young in body, Muslim mind

This faith of mine is not a crime
Sometimes misused at times
When you read it line by line by line
You end up seeing signs, principles to the nines, like

“Don’t just live to die
But die to live beside
Principles by your side
You’ll never need to run and hide”

From those guys that fantasize with many lies
Trying to grab that easy prize
Truly weak inside
Not knowing principles like

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Principles you cash in

Truth, Compassion,
Forgiveness, Never rationed
Words not heard but
Ideals forever lasting

Day 19 – True Strength

It’s at its weakest can strength be at its greatest. This has been the overarching theme in the days since my last contemplation piece during this blessed month of Ramadan. Through the countless iftars hosted by my fellow brothers and sisters in this small Muslim community while floating on a tiny island in the Caribbean, I have been again reminded of what true strength really means. With nothing more than a desire to live out the best in the remaining days left, we have come together as one people embodying what this month had intended from its beginning. Race or nationality became an exterior shell easily removed to reveal the richness in faith that bound us together under one ummah (community). As I appreciate and live this blessing within the confinements of my small world, how could I not partake such lessons in worlds beyond my shores? As an ummah, we choose to struggle with physical restriction to attempt to understand the path of those not blessed to have such a choice. We may not reach a complete state of empathy, but we strive to be on the path towards it during this month. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “When Allah loves a servant, He tests him” (Tirmidhi). Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said, You will never obtain what you desire except through patience with what you despise” (Al-Ghazaali). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) said, “Truly my Lord is with me, He will guide me” (Qur’an 26:62). It’s through the divine collaboration of these prophets of God that the poor, the hungry, the sick, the orphan, and the oppressed become living role models and not dying statistics. No matter who they are, where they live, or what creed they follow the only distinction worthy of notice is their place in what’s right above that which is wrong. They are in my prayers not just in words but within the lessons learned in this blessed month. They embody true strength. I pray that I can understand even a sliver of it, insha’Allah.

Day 13 – Unconditional Maturity

When we fail to address that which takes peace from the mind, it can seep into other areas of life it was never intended to reach. Nonetheless, living out obligations as a desire and not just an expectation becomes the struggle irregardless of the condition that fulfills them. As I headed to lead Friday prayer, this circumstance cemented the pillar that challenged my maturity. Looking to my own childhood, it’s one of many aspects of adulthood my youth mistakenly saw as the intrinsic nature of my parents. With a limited scope of experience, our youth sees the conscious choices of our caregivers as unconscious and expected. To live a task to its end with only its end in sight requires tunnel vision, a deliberate choice of amnesia, and the focus of a trauma surgeon. With every blessed month of Ramadan, I am grateful to be more aware of the source of these giving qualities of my parents. In the Qur’an God speaks to

“Be kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor” (Qur’an 17:23).

I can find no better way to honor them then to live out the best in their example, insha’Allah.

Day 12 – Forgive and Not Regret

Alexander Pope, an English poet living in the 18th century, believed that “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” This delicate distinction becomes necessary whether disappointment comes from you or is received from another. When unwilling to face our own humanity and its ability to make mistakes, we develop a deceptive feeling of immortality and infallibility when those mistakes are made against us. It tells us to cover ourselves with pride rather than reveal an honest heart beating vulnerably inside. It is within this blessed month of Ramadan should we look within ourselves even when wronged to understand if our hand played a part in it. No index finger pointed at another is without three fingers pointed right back. It’s at this fork in the road are we faced with the choice between a tempting road that blames with ease or a forgiving road firm on a straight path. By no means am I advocating to simply be content with being wronged. When you choose to “show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant” it becomes a divine investment made towards God Who is both Al Ghaffar“All-Forgiving,” and Al-‘Adl“The All Just” (Qu’ran 7:199). Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us that “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy” (Al-Bukhari). Let us remember to embody the quality of forgiveness we seek from God in order to impart it to those that sincerely seek it from us, insha’Allah.

Day 11 – Be the Reality to Opportunity

Within Ramadan is a month filled with opportunities to give up more than just your lunch for the day. In limiting the physical, what is spirtual can unveil paths to serve others that are otherwise hidden in our own preoccupied lives. While immersed in medical school on a small island in the Caribbean, a local Muslim convert gifted me with such an opportunity. After sharing my salaams with her while at the marketplace, it became the very comfort she needed to share a real struggle with me. After choosing Islam for herself, her concern was for her son’s understanding of a religion much different than the community he is immersed in on a daily basis. The potential in his youth, the focus in his drive, and the influence to his aspirations became the catalyst to his mother’s plea for guidance for her son. After she shared her thoughts, I asked her to bring him to our student-led Jummah (Friday) prayer to see first hand what Islam can be to a generation that may better understand. When she introduced me to him, he no longer became an opportunity to do good but a reality too good not to embrace. May we continually seek to live out the best of deeds no matter our condition, insha’Allah.

Day 10 – Living Up To A Name

Your name is a personal gift from your caregivers that transcends time even after leaving this world. History has proven this test through time with each generation that has passed. Even if you decide to legally change it, the remnants of your given name is a living reminder of a life that was lived. The good in a name is not without purpose as its meaning can serve to uplift the very people that live up to it. How beautiful is a name when lived to its meaning with both an awareness and without a care. In  this blessed month of Ramadan, we are given a chance to reflect on the qualities of God through His many beautiful names. He is Al-Haqq, “The Truth.” He is Ar-Rahman, “The Exceedingly Compassionate.” He is As-Salaam, “The Source of Peace.” He is Al-Gaffar, “The Repeatedly Forgiving.” The list goes on encompassing 99 names in total that bear such beautiful qualities of God. Reflecting on each one is a prescription written in the Qur’an that says,

“And to God belong the best names, so invoke Him by them” (7:180).

But His most unique name unlike any other is Allah (SWT), the One and Only God. It is this mark of Tawhid, or “Oneness of God,” that serves as a foundation of faith not just in Islam but in all people that recognize it. Being a “muslim” is not one that simply believes in the religion of Islam but literally means  “one who submits to God.” When we define terms that are unknown amongst us, we can lift a veil of ignorance that may have blinded us to what may bring us together. May we live up to the good in the name that we were given so we can know what it truly means, insha’Allah.

Day 9 – The Wisdom in Listening

So few partake in the simple act of just being an attentive member of the audience to the words of another. There is an art to listening that can only be appreciated when chosen for its original intent. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was an exemplary listener that perfected this art. It was his act of listening to the revealed words of God through the Qur’an that we are able to appreciate its value in our lives today. It’s a book that is not simply read aloud but recited carefully “in slow, measured rhythmic tones” (Qur’an 73:4). But it’s when you consciously listen to its recitation, meaning, context, and message are you able to traverse through time as if these words were first revealed to you as they were to the Prophet. There is a history and beauty to listening that is meant to extend beyond such an example by embracing the example itself. When employed with those around you, it can mean the world. Listening isn’t contemplating what to say while one shares their thoughts. It resides within silence meant to echo the thoughts that are shared. Think back to a time when you valued listening with silence. You’ll know its mark all too well. It’s found in the worries that are lifted off the shoulders of someone close to you. It resides within the path towards change for all that participate in its presence. It defines the difference between wisdom and intelligence. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once said,

“Speak a good word or remain silent” [Sahih Bukhari].

He was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was with emphasis and deliberation. It was because he listened, no one could forget what he said. May we embody such a beautiful quality of listening that brings value to our words when spoken, insha’Allah.

Day 8 – Liberty and Justice For All

In the past few days I have come across numerous articles and grainy videos depicting a 15 year old Palestinian American, Tariq Abu Khdeir, with hands forcibly tied behind his back being brutally beaten until he lost consciousness. It’s easy to make claims that he incited violence, but that simply was not the case here. Pictures of Tariq before and after the incident was like night and day with bruises and scars that paved the difference.  In honor of celebrating the 4th of July as an American, I signed and shared a petition that demanded the U.S. State Department to take swift action in bringing justice to a fellow American citizen held without charges. No matter who he is or what he represents, it’s what was done to him that should raise eyebrows. Regardless of either side, it has been the children that have carried the burden of these recent atrocities to human dignity. It’s because of the injustice done to this American youth that the media can no longer turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of the people there. Let us continue to extend our prayers to those affected by these horrific acts no matter whom they are done against, insha’Allah. Let us remember that justice is unbiased and meant for all of those that deserve it as said in the Qur’an,

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do” (Qur’an 5:8).

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